Punta Cana, Dominican Republic - Playa Turquesa BalconyWhen traveling abroad, staying in a rental home didn’t become as common until online travel sites made it easier to locate those offering that service. An increasing number of people are choosing to rent, instead of staying in hotels or resorts.  Some of the advantages are a savings on the price of your vacation and seeing more of the local culture. The last two summers we decided to use short-term rentals in the various cities we visited. Whether you are going for a week, a month or longer, these points will help you find the best place to stay on your vacation in another country:

  1. Find online travel sites that specialize in vacation rental properties: For example, this summer we visited the Dominican Republic (DR). Tripadvisor and HomeAway are the two sites we used for our search. Home Exchange is another big site but they didn’t offer any rentals in the DR.
  2. Decide on which city to visit: We knew we wanted to visit the Dominican Republic, but we didn’t know which city to go. Considering we have two little ones, and wanted an easier stay, we chose one of the major touristic cities in the DR. That city was Punta Cana.
  3. Choose the neighborhood: Well, we decided on a city, but we didn’t know anything about the neighborhoods, which seemed the most difficult part to figure out. We didn’t want to end up in a place that was noisy, dirty or unsafe. Once we went through the listings from these two sites and read the reviews about the surroundings, then we knew which part of the city we wanted to stay in. In Punta Cana, it turned out that you can be in the center of the city and be beside a clean, quiet beach at the same time. We knew we could rent an apartment by the beach, and still be near shopping and other entertainment, as well as be able to walk to places.
  4. Search and limit the rentals you like: We searched in TripAdvisor and Home Away for rental properties in Punta Cana, and many listings came up. After looking at pictures of homes, prices and reading the reviews, we narrowed it down to less than 10 rentals based on criteria that was the most important to us. We definitely wanted to make sure to have a beach view!
    View from Playa Turquesa in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  5. Check for coupons and sales: Don’t forget to check coupons and deals for the place you want to be. You may end up getting a much more expensive apartment or home for less because the renter needs to fill up space.
  6. Send many inquires and do it early: I emailed the landlord for each rental I found, asking about the place, price, etc. Both TripAdvisor and HomeAway made sending an inquiry very easy, and you usually hear back either the same day or the next. But, a lot of times, the dates available weren’t updated, so the landlord would let us know when it was actually available.
  7. Try to consider other things that might affect your comfort (depending on where you’re going). For instance, if you’re going to a tropical place, insects and mosquitoes might be an issue and it’ll be good to rent a place that has screens on the windows. Ask the renter if there is anything that might be good to know about the place and the city.
  8. Focus on one or two places:  Finally, we focused on one place. After emailing back and forth with the agent, we made a decision on a property. I can say one little mistake we made was to send a deposit without seeing the contract. After sending the deposit, he sent us the contract to sign. But, thankfully, there were no problems with the apartment. Make sure though to read the terms and conditions before making any commitment or paying a deposit. That way, you can see if there is something you don’t agree with in the contract.
  9. Negotiate: Rental prices vary by season and the duration of stay. The longer you stay, the better deal you get. Besides, I realized you can always negotiate on the price, which is a great thing.
  10. Finally, before you go, do research on specific restaurants, shopping malls, other points of interest (including doctors and hospitals that accept your insurance), etc. near your rental home. When you go, it’ll be easier to get used to your new place.

In our experience, both Trip Advisor and Home Away are great sites to find homes in great destinations at great prices. Now relax and make sure to have fun on your next trip!

The Beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Hi, I'm Ayse! I am a mom of three wonderful children and originally began working as a librarian. Now, I love to write! I am an avid coupon finder, deal expert, and lover of anything that can save money without compromising on quality.