The Best Time To Book Your Vacation Rental

Looking forward to summer and feeling the need to ditch the daily grind, load up the Family Truckster and escape to the beach for a few days' R&R or a week-long getaway?

Sorry Charlie – it's May 8th and all the primo summer vacation rentals have been snatched up by saavy VRBO types way back in January. Which seems ridiculous, but according to a study conducted earlier this year by HomeAway, and as reported in its blog, the best time to book a vacation home for the summer holiday season is in January, because by April 1st, the majority of the site's summer rentals have been booked.

This is especially true for the most sought after locations – including our glorious California beaches – and premium quality pet-friendly accommodations.

So the trick is to plan ahead and book early (earlier than you might think is necessary) to avoid disappointment, dirty looks from the family unit, a depressed dog, and having to settle for something less than stellar for your family vacation.

So here's a handy guide for what HomeAway says are the best times to book beach houses, cabins and condos for every peak travel season throughout the year. Get ahead of the demand curve for the best deals and the best selection of vacation rentals.

Spring Break: Choose a place to stay before January to get the largest selection. Shake off the hangover and get planning.

Summer Vacation: Book this in January (the earlier the better) to get ahead of the demand. Most summer vacation rental homes will be full by April 1.

4th of July Weekend: Book by May 1. Seriously.

Memorial Day Weekend: Many travelers reserve in January sine this is basically kicking off summer. Failing that, booking before March will still give you a good range of home sizes, locations and prices.

Labor Day Weekend: Book right after the 4th of July to beat the late-summer demand.

Ski Season: We're not sure why some people choose freezing snow over sandy beaches and mild temperatures in the fall/winter months, but they're out there. Those coo-coo's should start looking by mid-October for the best selection of ski rentals. Half of all ski rentals are booked by December. We'll be at the beach.

Thanksgiving: This tends to be more of a last-minute holiday, so procrastinators rejoice! But don't put it off too long. You should really try to secure your booking by Oct. 2 and you can still get ahead of the demand.

Christmas, Hanukkah, etc: This is also a very popular time to travel, so try to book three months ahead for the best selection of holiday season rentals. Once you survive the holidays you'll be ready for a vacation, so get ready to start planning after New Years for next summer!

Mark these dates on your calendar as helpful reminders to break tradition and be the early birds of the vacation rentals inventory this year so you never get stuck in a Bates Motel again for your much deserved holiday. Mother says to do it now.

Be sure to book your summer vacation rental home in January in order to get the best selection. Most beach vacation rental homes will be full by April 1.

Be sure to book your summer vacation rental home in January in order to get the best selection. Most beach vacation rental homes will be full by April 1.

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