When you are “this close” to the summer vacation season, your chances of finding an affordable vacation rental property are slim at best. Especially at popular beach and lake destinations.

Saving money on your next vacation rental is possible even at this late date. You simply need to know what you want, where you want to go, and be flexible. Here’s how you can save money on your next family excursion.

All Together Now

Have a family meeting to discuss your vacation options. This is especially important with teens in the home — bored adolescents and family trips make for a bad combination.

If it is the shore everyone wants, then consider a handful of destinations. For instance, your family might prefer a certain beach, but beach front properties are prohibitively priced or booked solid for the next year. Instead, consider a bayside or off-the-beaten path stay — you may not be able to walk to the beach, but you’ll find something that is affordable.

Deal Directly With the Landlord

Quite easily you could rely on a local real estate broker to find you a vacation stay. Unless the landlord is paying the fee, that cost will be included in your vacation rental. That cost may not be obvious either, but it will quickly become apparent when you learn what other properties cost when dealing directly.

You can find vacation rentals on Craigslist as well as on local ad sites. If you visit the destination during the off season and find a “for rent” sign posted on a property, then contact the landlord directly. You may be able to negotiate a better deal by meeting face-to-face. Sweeten your offer by promising to clean the place as you leave and agree to put the trash and recyclables at the curb on pickup day.

Share Your Stay

No matter what, you may end up paying a mint for your vacation stay. Some locations charge from $3,000 per week and there is no way to get around it. Unless you choose to vacation elsewhere.

One way to reduce your cost is to share your rental with another family. Your landlord may not mind and that $3,000 rental is now just $1,500 or about what you would pay for a hotel stay for one week. Find a family that you are compatible with, but encourage each other to go your separate ways for at least part of your stay.

Cut Your Costs Elsewhere

You may not be able to save money on your vacation rental. Or at least get it for a price closer than what you want. Quite easily you may have to take what you can get or radically change your plans and take your vacation somewhere else.

Another way to look at your vacation stay is what the house offers. A full kitchen, a flat-screen television with a DVD player, a washer and dryer, whirlpool bath, a swimming pool or even a tennis court can provide amenities that are attractive to you. You may not have planned eating most of your meals at the vacation home, but if it comes with a grill and picnic table, you can cook your own meats and save money on restaurant costs.

Rental Considerations

Make your vacation rental payment by credit card or a certified check. If your vacation plans change will you lose your entire money or just the deposit? Come to think of it, you may be able to find a vacation stay for less if you snag a home that involves a cancellation by another vacationer. Give landlords your contact information to give you a call if a home becomes available.

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