All of us have the fantasy - the perfect weekend getaway. The cozy, quiet country cottage amidst the pine trees is a scene out of a Jack London novel. The lake glistens and shines right outside your door, and is the ideal spot for fishing, boating, and a pleasant walk in the woods. Inside, everything you need is at your fingertips, including wood for the fire, oven-baked biscuits, and fresh coffee. The kids are quietly watching Sesame Street, and will be soon be napping in their own bedroom. Everything is quiet, peaceful, remote, and delightfully affordable.
Some of us had experiences closer to reality - being overcharged for a cabin in need of renovation, with difficult access roads that ruined your car's front suspension. Perhaps there wasn't air conditioning; perhaps the neighbors were too close. Perhaps there wasn't a lake anywhere near your luxury cottage. Many of us had remote vacation experiences that were less than ideal.
So, how does a person pick the perfect cottage rental, and avoid a National Lampoon vacation? Achieving perfection may be setting a very lofty goal, but there are some steps that will help ensure a pleasant holiday or vacation.
Know your intentions. Do you want a romantic getaway, or a large family reunion? Do you want a rustic, earthy, mountain man experience, or a luxurious retreat? Is price of little significance, or would discount lodging be more appropriate? Most importantly, what are the visions and hopes of your traveling companions? Knowing what you really want out of your experience will be key to mapping the way to choosing your perfect cottage.
Be prepared. Take the time to plan and prepare for what you will want in your vacation rental, including inside amenities such as heat, a stove, a microwave, a fireplace, and TV or Satellite hookups. Also, be sure to ask yourself questions, and make a list. Some items on the list may include:
* How many people will be staying at the cottage?
* How many bedrooms/bathrooms are preferable?
* Is smoking allowed?
* Is the cottage pet friendly?
* What kind of clothes will be needed? Swimsuit? Snow gear? Sandals? Heavy boots?
* What should I bring for recreation?
* How far away is the main highway?
* When is the best time to rent?
* What do I need if it rains or snows?
Planning for the who, what, where, when, why, and how questions is extremely important for any vacation, especially the perfect one.
Gather information. In addition to finding all of the answers on your planning list, find out as much as you can about the region you want to visit, including the altitude, weather, traffic, local attractions, and recreation areas. In all likelihood, your cottage or vacation rental will be like a base camp for you and your traveling companions. If your cottage is in a very remote location with narrow, hairpin-turn roads as the only access, it might be unpleasant if your companions have 3 children prone to car sickness. The areas and environment near your perfect rental should be close to perfect as well.
Ask. Ask. Ask. Above all, get the answers you need to make an informed decision. This includes asking friends and acquaintances for input, as they may have stayed at a place they liked, or they may have enjoyed a particular area that was perfect for a retreat. Also, they may give feedback on where not to stay, which is candid and valuable feedback, to say the least. Lastly, don't be afraid to call the rental or cottage proprietor directly for more information. A good proprietor will want to answer any questions that you may have before making arrangements, as they will want to meet or exceed your expectations before your arrival.
These steps may take time and attention, and will ultimately be worth the effort. Knowing what you want and planning for your cottage getaway will make all the difference, and in the process you may find the perfect cottage rental for you.
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