European Car Rental – Top Ten Tips for Europe Travel – Tip #2: The Price Is Right

When it comes to shopping for something on-line, we tend to become naturally more focused on a singular aspect of the product or service we desire. There is so much information to be absorbed while browsing sites that it is nearly impossible to factor everything in. This is very true of the travel industry, which happens to be the second largest on-line market (I’m sure you can guess what the first is) and the one thing most customers tend to zero in on is that magical of all numbers: price.

This is of course to be expected. We can, after all, only afford what is in our budget. However, the first order of business should always be to understand the requirements of our vacation, in this case, the car rental. Before you look at prices, you should have a solid idea of how many people you need to accommodate, the amount of days you are staying, whether or not you can drive a manual shift, and the locations you are picking up and dropping off at. Provided you have those things locked down, you can safely move on to comparison shopping.

While it is true that 91% of travelers at least research if not purchase their trips on-line (source: Nielsen NetRatings – EyeforTravel independent study), it is always best to have some human contact before you make that important decision. In fact, if it is difficult to elicit at least a personalized e-mail response within 24 hours of contacting a travel company, you can almost guarantee that their customer service will put you on the back burner should you have a problem. Before you settle on a price, make sure that any future dealings with the company you choose will be satisfactory, or you will end up paying much more than that number on the screen.

The time honored tradition these days is “added extras”, also sometimes known as local taxes, hidden fees, or much more malicious wordings, depending on who you talk to. Some companies only quote you a “base rate”. Some companies will tell you their price is “all-inclusive”. Sometimes this is true, other times it is anything but. As long as the company is honest in conveying this information, it should not be a deterrent, as sometimes it is not within their control. Make sure you always read any terms and conditions and if you are still uneasy, call or e-mail the company and ask if there are any other charges to be expected upon arrival. Note that I say “charges” and not “fees” or “costs”. The basis of this being that in most cases a security deposit will be held for gas and key as well as a deductible for insurance purposes. The things that should either be included or not are:

Value Added Tax: Like sales tax in the States, all the countries in Europe have a different tax structure. This can be as low as 7.6% (Switzerland) to 25% or more (Scandinavia) and is generally not refundable as it is on goods, since car rental is deemed a service.

Insurance: While there are new types of insurance being imagined up by rental companies everyday, the main ones are usually Collision and Theft (these two are sometimes covered by credit cards – more on that in later articles), liability, personal accident insurance (like medical insurance) and personal effects coverage (covers your belongings inside the vehicle).

Mileage: Only luxury vehicles and SUV’s should come with limited mileage. Beware any company who does not have unlimited mileage on normal sedan and wagon vehicles, even vans.

Local Taxes: These typically include premium location surcharges (airports and railstations especially), road taxes, additional drivers, eco surcharges and more. Like insurances, these are called something different every day.

After inclusions are tallied up, request a free quote in writing. If you can’t get a free quote in writing, chances are the company will end up billing you for something you do not know about. If the company has a website where the quotes are stored, print it out off of your browser. Make sure it has a tracking number so you can pull it up when needed. Also make sure you know the difference between a tracking number and a confirmation number. One holds a rate quote, one holds an actual vehicle.

In general, you can get the lowest price from a consolidator, who deals with multiple suppliers. They have contracted wholesale rates and typically hold more weight when confirming special requests such as hotel deliveries, additional equipment and after hours pick ups. It helps if they have a “best rate” policy. The better companies will offer to beat any rate you can find provided it has the same parameters and inclusions. Always ask if they have discounts for memberships like AAA, AARP, etc. Ask friends who have used the company if they know of any discount codes. You never know what will bring down the price in the long run.

To sum this up, always remember that price should not be the first thing you look at. Make sure the company is reputable, is easy to reach via telephone and e-mail, has the criteria you require available, and then worry about the price. It may sound like a lot of work but in the end you will be happy that made the right choice.

Tips to Consider Before You Opt for a Short Term Rental

If you are going to take a vacation in the near future, we suggest that you consider a short-term rental service. You will have a lot of options to choose from. Usually, these homes have all that you need to spend your vacation comfortably. Read on to find out more.

Nowadays, economic circumstances have lead people to opt for short-term rentals. Aside from individuals, companies have made changes to how they work. In other words, their employees have to go to different sites from time to time. In the same way, tenants have similar needs to meet.

You can find a lot of letting agencies that offer short-term rentals. This helps tenants find an accommodation that has all the required facilities. Normally, this type of residence has a high standard, which means they have all the stuff you need on a regular basis. The only things you need are your clothes and suitcases.

Now, if you are going to move to another city, make sure you do your homework first. This will help you opt for the best area. If you are moving to another city on work, we suggest that you choose a rental home that is located in that city. This is important to consider because you need a lot of amenities when you are working in a city.

If you are going on a vacation, on the other hand, then your best bet is to find a rental apartment that is located away from the city. No matter which option you opt for, make sure you consider your budget.

Once you have chosen an area, you may want to search for short-term rental service in your desired area. Take a look at different apartments and once you have found one, find out how much it costs. Usually, short-term rentals don’t come with a lot of restrictions. You can get a discount if you are going to stay there for a longer period of time.

If you are an employee, we suggest that you consider company rentals. Usually, they work the same way private rentals work, but they are a bit different from regular rentals. The competition between these providers is stiff as they want to get the best deal. Employees tend to prefer company lets as they have a lot of amenities.

Some short-term rentals are in touch with companies that need shorter lets from time to time. They can be a good option, especially if you have a company.

If you are a leisure traveler, you may want to go for short-term rentals. The reason is that these rentals are properly furnished. They have amazing kitchens that will save you a good deal of money as you won’t have to eat out. Typically, the rental price includes all the charges.

Nowadays, short-term rentals are quite popular. If you are going to move to another city for work or want to go on a vacation, you may want to consider a short-term rental service. Hope, this article will help you choose one easily.

7 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Stay at a Short Term Rental

If you are going to travel on business or you just need a place to spend your time for a couple of days in another city, we suggest that you give a go to a short term rental. You have a lot of options to choose from, such as vacation rentals, hotels, sublets, and apartments, just to name a few. So, if you have plans to travel in the near future, considering the following 8 tips is a great idea. These tips may help you get the most out of your stay at a short term rental.

1. Don’t pack all your stuff

Before you move, don’t pack all the stuff that you need on a regular basis as the rental will offer you most of the commonly used things. So, you may not want to pack off-season outfits, soaps, kitchen equipment, and furniture. Taking these things with you will only add to the unnecessary burden on you.

2. Pack the stuff you Love

Although you may not want to take all the unwanted stuff with you, you may still carry things that matter to you. Do put them in your bags as they will make your experience a lot more comfortable and happier.

3. Don’t kill your Time

Typically, you may not want to live around a lot of unpacked boxes. If you are going to travel again after a couple of months, you can just put them in a safe place in your house. You don’t want to spend a lot of time packing those things. They will only kill a lot of your precious time.

4. Remove unwanted items from the boxes

On the other hand, make sure you pack things that you know are needed. And after careful consideration, you should take out all the things from the boxes that you can easily manage without.

5. Decorate the Space

Before you leave the rental, you don’t want to worry about the things that you will have to fix anyway, such as holes in the walls. Based on your lease terms and conditions, you may or may not have to make these changes. However, during your stay, you can decorate the space without making any physical modifications to it.

6. Throw a Party

You may not like to socialize a lot during your stay at the rental as it’s not your home. However, you can fight against these feelings and invite some close friends over. But make sure you don’t let things get out of your hands. After all, you don’t want to damage the property you are not the owner of.

7. Meet your Neighbors

Getting to know the people around is a great idea. In other words, you should meet your neighbors and even help them when they need it. This will help you feel settled in the new environment.

In short, living in a place temporarily can be a good deal of fun provided you have the right mindset. So, we suggest that you accept it for what it is. This can help you turn the place into an environment where you will feel at home.

How to Book a Vacation Rental Home

While there is a growing abundance of options when it comes to booking a vacation home, many travelers still find the rental market to be a little chaotic – at least in comparison to more traditional accommodations like hotels/motels. The increasing popularity of vacation rentals as a value-packed alternative to pricier hotels has led to an abundance of options that can be overwhelming.

Here are some tips for booking your vacation rental to ensure that you are getting the most bang for your buck, while protecting yourself from scams or disappointment.

Booking a Vacation Rental Tip #1: Check out niche listers that focus on specific destinations.

Whether you’ve rented a vacation villa before or not, you’ll want to work with a local company and representatives who know their stuff.

If you’re interested in a Santa Barbara beach house rental, a qualified representative will earn their stripes by walking you through the suitable available properties based on your unique needs and desires. For instance, if you’re bringing your three Bernese mountain dogs, they’ll recommend Santa Barbara beach rental locations that are both dog-friendly and bric-a-brac-free.

Additionally, once you arrive, you’ll want to enjoy concierge services to help you get reservations at that trendy new restaurant, or simply recommend a hike that overlooks the ocean. An anonymous operator three states away won’t be able to deliver that level of local service.

Booking a Vacation Rental Tip #2: Use a credit card to protect yourself and minimize risks.

You want and expect every detail of your vacation to be perfect. But unfortunately that won’t always be the case. So you need to protect yourself.

Renting with your credit card through a Santa Barbara vacation rental management company offers you that protection. If for some reason the property doesn’t meet your expectations, and the management won’t do anything to fix it, you can keep a record of the problem and dispute the charge with your credit card company.

Property owners who rent person-to-person usually insist on a cashier’s check for 50 percent of the vacation rental to reserve it, and then the other 50 percent in cash upon your arrival. If you later discover roaches scuttling through the kitchen of your vacation home, or other elements of the property that were grossly misrepresented, you will have no leverage because you will have already paid in full in cash.

Booking a Vacation Rental Tip #3: Get the most bang for your buck.

Dollar for dollar, a vacation rental gives you so much more than a luxury hotel. You get exponentially more space (both indoors and outdoors). You get a host of amenities from private pools to high end kitchens to top flight entertainment systems, all for your exclusive use. Unlike an anonymous hotel room off a crowded corridor, you have a serene home away from home to call your own.

But there are a host of priceless intangible benefits you get when you book your vacation rental through a professional management company. Working with a premier management company to find your ideal vacation home gives you a whole new level of service. A professional company has skin in the game. They are working to establish a good reputation and a list of return clientele, rather than just trying to make fast money.

In the-best-surprise-is-no-surprise category, unlike an absentee owner off Craigslist, a professional Santa Barbara rental company has someone who is troubleshooting issues 24/7, working hard to keep both the renters and the owners happy.

The most underused amenity is the professional staff. Once you arrive at your rental villa in Santa Barbara, they are at your beck and call. Concierge and housekeeping services are a mere button-touch away. The staff’s local Santa Barbara knowledge and connections can turn an average vacation into something amazing. There is no extra cost, and the return is priceless.

Booking a Vacation Rental Tip #4: Book with confidence.

There’s a HUGE difference between someone who just wants to sell you a room, and a professional vacation rental company that wants to make sure that you enjoy your ultimate Santa Barbara vacation so much that you return again and again. The key to that difference is delivering on what is promised.

Many vacation rental agencies are just big clearing-houses that list properties, sometimes all over the world. They do not usually specialize in a region and offer no other services, aside from rental matchmaking. They can’t make guarantees about the Santa Barbara beach house rental you’ve booked because their representatives have never visited them, inspected them for health and safety concerns, or even met the owners. They cannot vouch for the actual condition of the vacation rental property, the advantages/disadvantages of the location, etc.

Some agencies just want to book the beach rental and collect their fee. They may not care too much about what happens during your stay.

If you’ve never visited the Santa Barbara beach rental house you’re considering, or gotten a firsthand report from a trusted friend, you have no idea whether the photos you’ve seen on the web site are an accurate representation. They might be outdated, retouched or from an entirely different place. (It goes without saying that you should never rent a vacation rental that doesn’t offer photos!) Beware of any site that only offers view or exterior shots. If they’re not willing to show you what the vacation house rental looks like inside, you don’t want to stay there.

With a professional vacation rental company, you can be assured that the quality you see is the quality you will get.

Booking a Vacation Rental Tip #5: Go with the highest standards of quality.

Professional vacation rental agencies are held to higher standards than private owners. Even if an owner fervently believes that their Santa Barbara vacation rental is clean and up-to-date, their standards might not match your own. One person’s no-visible-dust-bunnies and hi-fi-system are another person’s filthy and anachronistic. A professionally managed Santa Barbara vacation house rental will also be a professionally cleaned and maintained vacation house rental.

Booking a Vacation Rental Tip #6: Understand the risks of booking through free listing sites like Craigslist.

Listing on a free site is, well, free. No crime in that (who doesn’t love free?), but that might point toward a general laissez-faire attitude the owner has toward his property and tenants.

The owners who are willing to pay a fee to keep their vacation houses booked and in first-class condition have already demonstrated their care and commitment to a working relationship that is beneficial to all parties. The management companies they work with are companies you can rent from worry-free.

Booking a Vacation Rental Tip #7: Don’t be afraid to negotiate.

The more often these vacation rentals are occupied, the happier the owners are, so if you are planning a last-minute or a long-term stay or if you are a frequent visitor, there is often room to negotiate on the price of your vacation rental. Sometimes the discount might be as much as 30 percent.

Booking a Vacation Rental Tip #8: Do your research and compare rates, amenities, and conditions before entering into a rental agreement.

When you’re trying to narrow down your choice of a Santa Barbara vacation rental, be sure you’re comparing apples to apples. A smaller house on the beach will likely cost more than a larger one in the hills. Know what you’re getting from each property, and from each management company. Follow your gut and go with the company that will cheerfully show up in the middle of the night to snake the sink.

Another benefit to working with a Santa Barbara vacation rental professional management company is that it’s so easy to do a background check on them. Call or visit the Better Business Bureau or a vacation rental site like FlipKey.com. Has the firm had any reasonable complaints lodged against them? How were they resolved? Type the name of the Santa Barbara vacation rental firm and its owner into Google and you’ll get a wealth of informative opinions.

The increasing popularity of Santa Barbara vacation rentals has led to an abundance of online resources. Your best bet is to do due diligence and compare rates, amenities, reputations, views, and conditions before entering into a rental agreement. It’s your vacation and booking the right accommodations will help you ensure that your holiday will meet and exceed your expectations.