Booking an apartment or house in another country can be really stressful! I know because I arranged accommodation for 6 people across the pond in Breckenridge, Colorado. It’s scary booking and paying for a house you haven’t physically seen and can trust is real. I booked through a site called VRBO when I booked a house in America, it’s a site full of privately owned homes but they all have to be verified before they can advertise on the site which is great. You can contact the owners with any questions and confirm your dates and prices before committing to book. It’s cheaper than most hotels and you end up with a really nice big house that you know is well looked after.
For trips in Europe I use booking.com – it’s really easy to use and in most cases you can just pay a deposit and then the rest is due on arrival so your not committing to the full amount until you are happy with the accommodation. It also makes it easier if you are in a group because you can all pay your own amount in local currency when you arrive so you don’t end up owing your friends money. Here are my top tips for keeping the booking process stress free, it’s a lot of pressure for the person in charge as you want everything to be perfect.
- Check & double check the location!
The location is really important! Don’t just rely on the description telling you that it’s a ‘short walk’ away from town. Do your research and simply input the address into google maps so that yo know exactly where the place is. The first time I was in charge of organizing the accommodation I ended up booking an apartment that was 3 buses away from the resort which sucked!
- Confirm price & set payment deadlines for friends
The first thing you should do is confirm the total cost and then break it down to a per person cost, this way everyone knows exactly how much money they need to save to be able to stay with you. Then you must set payment deadlines, it can be difficult when it comes to exchanging money with friends but you need to be strict otherwise you might end up in trouble yourself. One house I rented for a season cost a couple of thousand dollars between 6 of us so I had to make sure all the payments where made on time to avoid losing the booking.
- Don’t overfill the house!
I can’t stress enough how important this is! Living in a house with friends is good fun but only if you all have equal space/beds. It might make it cheaper if you cram more people in but the house ends up messy and stressful which is just not worth it! If a house sleeps 6 people – keep it that way! There might be extra sofa/floor room but think about the extra people trying to use bathrooms and kitchen space that is only designed for 6 to share.
- Keep in touch with the owner
If you are renting a privately owned property it’s always nice to keep in touch with the owner. Let them know what time you are arriving and send them a nice email explaining who you are and what your plans are (it might put them at ease a bit) Being friendly with the owners also helps if any problems occur – if they are already familiar with you and trust you they won’t jump to the worst conclusion straight away. We had a party one night and even though we cleared everyone out at 10pm on the dot (which is the noise cut off time in Breck) the person living downstairs called the owner and totally exaggerated what was actually happening. Luckily we rang the owner and explained everything and she was totally fine with it. It also helps in the future if you need to rent accommodation again, even if they can’t help they will be able to recommend other places or friends houses to try.
- Book through a trusted site
Make sure you book through a legitimate website with some form of payment protections. You don’t want to be conned out of your own and your friends money! It does take hours but it’s best to really do your research and make sure that what you are booking is right.