5 Questions to Ask Before Renting a Cabin

Our name says it all. We love cabin living. But if you’re renting one for the first (or, indeed, the 11th) time, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with the whole idea of it. Here’s a list of 5 questions you may want to ask yourself or the company you’re renting from before embarking on your getaway.

1. What do I need to bring? And, just as important, what don’t I need to bring. Think through the meals you’re planning. You can expect the basics to be there — cookie sheets, knives, silverware, bowls. But if you need something specific — a cupcake tin, for example — you may want to stick it in. Firewood is almost always available at the cabin.

Most cabin rental companies provide a fairly detailed list of what you can expect the cabin to have. Here’s a sample list from Eden Crest Vacation Rentals. For other ideas on what to bring to the cabin, download a free cabin getaway packing list here. Also, click here for a few random things you should take to the cabin.

2. Are there seasonal rates or a required length of stay? Most cabins have a minimum stay of two nights, but that goes up to three nights during certain seasons. Almost all companies change their rates for different seasons. Rates are generally the highest from April to October and the holidays (book way, way in advance for those!). November through March, except for the holidays, is considered off-season and is when you can usually get a good deal.

3. Do I need codes for Internet/security? Is it obvious how to operate games/cable TV/media room systems? These codes should be readily available, but we’ve run into several situations where they aren’t. If you are planning to work or even just keep up on email, you may want to clarify these codes before leaving home. Just to be on the safe side and make sure things work appropriately.

4. Are there hidden fees? For most cabin companies, the answer to this will be “yes.” Expect the number you see as your cost to go up significantly before the transaction is complete. One way to tell what fees a company tacks on is act like you’re going to rent a cabin on a company’s site. Proceed until you get to the final cost page. Companies will add some/all of the following: hot tub cleaning fee, cleaning fee, damage deposit (will be refunded if you don’t destroy the cabin), or processing fee.

5. Where is it? Sometimes, it’s really hard to tell! You may not be able to put the address you’re given (if you’re even given one — sometimes you aren’t) in Google maps. It may not recognize it. A good question is — are we close to town? Is it walking distance? How long will it take us to drive to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg? Remember, if it’s a good view you’re searching for, you’re going to have a longer drive up in the mountains to get there. It’s not unusual for it to take a half hour to get into Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge from cabins up high. But if you’re only heading into town once or twice, that’s not a big deal. On the other hand, if you plan to be in town every day, you may want a closer cabin.

For other info on choosing a cabin:

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  • Scott Adams

    I’m so glad that you talked about how certain seasons might increase the required length of stay. I have been looking to rent a cabin for a family vacation, but I hadn’t thought about the required length of stay. It makes sense to check if the season changes the requirements, so I can be sure to get enough days of work for the trip. http://thevillasatcoosawattee.com/accommodations.htm