story and photo by Susan Melnyk
Traveling while stationed in Germany is one of the most gratifying ways to spend your time overseas, but packing the kids into a crowded hotel room is not always ideal. Whether you are planning a weekend or weeklong trip, renting a vacation home might be the best solution to your space and budget woes.
Steadily gaining in popularity over the past few years, renting an apartment or house specifically available to vacationers provides many perks, often at a very competitive price.
For less than the cost of a comparable hotel room, a vacation rental includes everything an apartment or house would have, including a kitchen with dishes, pots and pans, towels, and bedding. The available choices range from a four bedroom house on the Italian coast to a studio condo in the heart of Paris.
One of the greatest benefits of renting a vacation apartment is the ability to get away from the most tourist filled areas and experience how the locals live. Owners often leave guidebooks, maps and brochures so you can explore the neighborhood and make yourself at home.
Stop by a local market or grocery store and pick up a few items to snack on in the apartment, such as milk, juice, bread, cheese and fresh fruit. If you are looking to save money, simply buy some fresh vegetables and pasta for a quick evening meal. By eating breakfast and dinner at the apartment, you can save a ton of money without missing out on the local cuisine.
Lunch is often an inexpensive meal compared to a large dinner at most restaurants, so stop for lunch while you’re out sightseeing. This is also a great strategy if you have young ones that are likely to pass out early. Put them to bed in one of the apartment bedrooms and enjoy a romantic dinner for two in the living room or on the balcony.
Searching the Internet for a vacation apartment to rent is simple and easy. Many websites specialize in these types of rentals and provide photos, extensive reviews and reservations. Read the fine print, as the rental cost may be dependent upon season and on the number of guests that will be staying with you. A cleaning fee is sometimes applied on top of the nightly (or weekly) cost and pets may be an extra charge, if they are permitted at all.
Apartments and homes are usually cleaned once or a few times per week, so don’t expect to return to a made bed and tidy kitchen if you didn’t leave it that way. Unlike a hotel or bed and breakfast, the owners give you your privacy during your stay, though they will often be just a phone call or short walk away if you have any questions or concerns.
VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals By Owner) is a popular website for finding and renting a vacation home, both in the U.S. and worldwide. Holiday Velvet (holiday-velvet.com) is another well-established company, with extensive listings in Europe and vacationer reviews that can help you pick the perfect rental apartment for you and your family.
If you plan ahead, do your research, and have an open mind, renting a vacation apartment or house for your next trip might just be the best way to make yourself at home while traveling abroad.
Now that you know how to save some money on your next trip, check out our 5 must-see cities in Europe!