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Pet-Friendly Travel Options: Staying in a Vacation Rental

There are lots of reasons why pet-friendly hotels and motels are great for travellers with pets. But if you've been feeling adventurous and are looking for something different, vacation rentals might just fit the bill.

Vacation rentals are furnished, self-contained homes, suites, apartments, and condos that are offered as alternatives to hotel stays. Sometimes they are the only home on the property, while other times the property might also contain another rental or even the owner's own residence. Vacation rentals may be rented out privately by the owner, or may rented out by a property management company that handles the guest's stay from start to end.

Here's a short comparison of hotels and vacation rentals; you might find that there are times when hotels or motels fit your needs better, and other times when you want to stay in a vacation rental.

 
Hotels  
Vacation Rentals  

Lodging
Consistent - you generally know what you'll be getting when you book a hotel room.
Unique - each vacation rental is individualistic, often reflecting the personality of its owners.

Price
Sometimes you can find good deals online, though various travel sites or just by contacting the hotel directly. If you're traveling with a group and need more than 1 room, you just book as many as you need. Large groups might get a discount.
Vacation rentals can be tiny, cozy spaces at an affordable budget rate, or they can be luxurious oceanfront properties. Parties needing more than one room may find that some vacation rentals offer a more affordable choice; instead of booking two or more hotel rooms, there's the option of booking a single vacation rental with multiple bedrooms.

Services and Amenities
Some properties offer extra amenities like a gym, pool, restaurant, picnic areas, balconies, etc (but note, not all of these areas may permit pets). You can also expect toiletries, complimentary coffee, and the usual other amenities from most hotels.

Hotels might offer additional non-standard services and amenities for an extra fee, like valet parking or laundry service, or an extra cot for the room.

Services and amenities will vary widely depending on the individual owner. In general, it's hard to hold expectations of what will provided at the property since every property and every owner is unique.

Some properties will not offer any amenities at all, and will be completely "self-catering" - they provide the accommodation only, and guests bring anything else that they need or want. Other properties may offer hotel-like amenities. They might also have more unique offerings like a yard (or even better, a fenced yard!), a deck, pool, BBQ, or a dock.

Because vacation rentals are each so unique, guests should specifically ask about any services or amenities that are important to them.

Kitchen
Hotels may offer kitchenettes, usually at a small extra fee.
Vacation rentals generally have their own full kitchens, whose use is included in the rental rate. This gives travelers the option of preparing their own meals (and saving money!) if they prefer.

Housekeeping
Daily housekeeping is generally offered and included in the rate (although housekeeping staff are sure to appreciate tips!).
Vacation rentals are typically "self-catering", meaning that daily housekeeping isn't available. Guests may have access to laundry facilities to do their own laundry (if desired). A cleaning fee may be charged so that housekeepers can do the laundry and clean the home after your visit is over.

Space
Travelers generally know what to expect from a hotel room or suite, even though the size of the unit can vary dramatically. Typically the room includes the bed (although sometimes there's a separate bedroom), chair, perhaps a desk, plus the bathroom. A kitchenette might also be available. Friends and families requiring two or more rooms may enjoy having completely separate rooms and their own space, rather being all together in one space.
Vacation rentals are each unique. They can range from single rooms to whole homes, with thousands of square feet of space! They can be a good option for friends or families who would normally need to book two or more hotel rooms, and who would want adjoining rooms. Instead, with a vacation rental, a single property can be booked with multiple bedrooms so that the whole party can stay together in one space. Shared spaces like living rooms and kitchens are good for gatherings too. The extra space can also be handy when there's a pet or two also hanging around.

Yard or Green Space
Hotels sometimes have shared green spaces that guests can enjoy (of course, pet owners should always be courteous and pick up after their dogs). Extra amenities like picnic tables, BBQs, gazebos, games, etc... might also be available.
Some vacation rentals may have private yards - even a fenced yard, great for travelers with dogs!

Privacy
Hotels are full of people coming and going. Generally, pets need to be accepting of lots of strangers coming and going for them and their families to enjoy a stay at a hotel.
Vacation rentals are sometimes single homes where there are no others on the property (or with small numbers of other parties on the property). They can be a better choice for travelers whose pets are uncomfortable with noise and strangers, or whose pets may not be suitable for staying in a hotel (for example, due to a tendency to bark).

Home-like Feel
Hotels don't typically offer a home-like feel, although there are some travelers (or some circumstances) who prefer a hotel atmosphere.
Vacation rentals can offer a "home away from home" atmosphere for travelers who prefer it. Privacy, space, and full kitchens, amongst other things, can make vacation rentals seem more like home. Travelers with dogs may find it easier to manage their dogs with the extra space and possibly easy access to a yard, too.

Personal Experience
Hotels often have a "guest manual" in the room, detailing things to see and do in the area, restaurants, hotel rules, contact information, etc. Hotels with a a concierge can help guests arrange for things to see and do.
Some owners take a more involved, hands-on approach to guests and can offer personal suggestions on what to see or do around the area. Many travelers enjoy the "personal touch" and a local's perspective of hidden gems in the area.

Vacation rentals can be a good option for travelers with pets. Browse the Pet Friendly site for vacation rentals and many other types of accommodations, too.

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