Sheraton Vistana Resort, Orlando

Have a large family? Five, Six or more in your brood, or maybe its two families traveling together for vacation. Whatever the case it’s definitely a terrific value proposition when you put the rental cost of a large house or villa vs. the equivalent amount of hotel rooms.

According to, homeaway.com, that has nearly 430,000 paid vacation rental home listings across 120 countries, ranging from condos to castles, approximately 34 percent of owners say they will offer some type of special deal or incentive to attract renters during the Spring Break season.

The same HomeAway report revealed the following hot spots ranked among the most popular Spring Break destinations this year, based on traveler inquiries about stays in March and April 2010:

1. Orlando, Fla.

2. Miami, Fla.

3. Panama City, Fla.

4. New York, N.Y.

5. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

6. Destin, Fla.

7. Daytona Beach, Fla.

8. Fort Myers, Fla.

9. Marco Island, Fla.

10. Clearwater, Fla.

Sarasota Vacation Villa

Some vacation rental owners plan to offer several incentives to attract renters including: percentage off the rental rate, free nights with the purchase of a specific number of nights, free cleaning services, no minimum night stay restrictions, complimentary products or services and free tickets to local events and theme parks.

With all this you still need to be careful with your planning.

Will your large family be it or will there be friends of the kids, another family or additional family members? Will you need housekeeping every day or are you volunteering to do the dishes? How close to the beach do you want to be, or would you prefer on the beach?

Do your homework. Pictures and videos on websites are great, but it’s always nice to speak with an agent. Ask questions plenty of questions like those below. Don’t be bashful about the direct questions you need to ask.

Are the grocery stores near?

If, in a foreign country, do the locals speak English?

How is the layout of the home?

Sleeps 8 – but, are they beds, pull-outs or roll-a-ways?

How many cars can be accommodated at the home?

Are there special rules to the property that you should be aware of?

Who is the contact person to call if there is any problem (i.e. AC dies out.)

Is there a service that handles the linens?

Sources and other tips:

Use Google Earth (such as Zillow.com and Trulia.com ) and MapQuest to get a good idea of the surroundings, how far the beach may be, etc.

Choosing a popular destination point is your best bet for a successful vacation. Do comparison shopping.

www.vacationhomes.com

www.apartments.com

www.craigslist.com

www.redweek.com

Never send money until you’ve signed your rental paper work.

Always ask for references.

Read the fine print. Is there a cancellation policy for leaving early – or, not being able to get there due to family emergency? When do you get your deposit back?

What’s exactly included?

Check for hidden charges. Is utilities, internet and cable included? Does the property have WIFI or high-speed internet?

Is it a Family Friendly Home?

Traveling with a large family, family of five or more or several families sharing a large home means checking bedroom configurations. Is a fancy house the best place to be with pre-schoolers? Is the pool fenced in?

Is the home pet-friendly?

Do you take your pet everywhere you go? Is there a size limit? Is it restricted to the type of pet?

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