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AC Photography | Adobe Stock

How Far in Advance Should You Book a Vacation Home?

Searching for that perfect vacation rental for your next trip? With limited inventory and constantly fluctuating prices, you could get left out in the cold if you don’t plan ahead. 

According to vacation home booking site VRBO, private home rentals are filling up earlier in 2023 than they have in the past.

No Vacancy sign on a teal wall
William Fehr | Adobe Stock

“If you’re looking to book a private vacation home for a major holiday in 2023, mark your calendars,” said Melanie Fish, head of Expedia Group brands public relations. “All of these dates are two weeks earlier than they were in years past. Those two weeks can make or break snagging a coveted mountain cabin for a spring break ski trip or a beachside cottage for that annual summer vacation.”

Here’s the latest VRBO advises booking by in order to snag the best vacation rentals:

Travel Period Book By Date
Memorial Day Weekend Apr 6, 2023
Summer Vacations April 17, 2023
Fourth of July Weekend May 10, 2023
Labor Day Weekend July 14, 2023
Thanksgiving October 6, 2023
Ski Season October 16, 2023
Winter Break November 3, 2023

Tips for Booking Vacation Rentals

As you start your search for a vacation rental, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Check Cancellation Policies

Feeling hesitant about committing to a pricey vacation rental months in advance? Search for places with lenient cancellations policies that won’t charge you huge fees in case your plans change. 

Expand Your Search Range

Close up of person using iPad to search through apartment listing
terovesalainen | Adobe Stock

According to VRBO, more than half of vacation properties are already fully booked in July for popular summer beach destinations in the Northeast. If you were considering a trip to summer hotspots like Ocean City or the Outer Banks but can’t find a property you like, think about widening your search to quieter destinations that will tend to have more options—or, change your date range to shoulder season (when kids are back in school, but the weather is still good) to find great options and more deals. 

Can’t change your dates? VRBO recommends the following destinations for under-the-radar summer vacations:

  • Corpus Christi & Port Aransas, Texas 
  • Blue Ridge, Georgia 
  • Miramar & Rosemary Beach, Florida 
  • Savannah & Tybee Island, Georgia 
  • Branson, Missouri

Search by Total Price

Many vacation rentals charge huge cleaning fees that can nearly double the total cost of your stay. When you’re searching for a property, make sure you search by “total price” rather than nightly price to avoid getting sticker shock when you go to book. 

Some of the links featured in this story are affiliate links, and SmarterTravel may collect a commission (at no cost to you) if you shop through them.

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