If you like to travel with friends, you can get a lot more space and amenities than a hotel room — sometimes for a lot less money — by pooling together and renting a vacation apartment, condo, or home.

What’s more, in some places (like Paris), renting an apartment can be cheaper than a hotel room, even if you’re just traveling à deux. Plus, you get a chance to really live like a local, shopping at supermarkets and living in the center of the city… or getting a taste of out-of-the-way neighborhoods.

With a quick look around the internet, you can rent spacious houses around the world at low group rates… like a week in a five-bedroom, three-bathroom home overlooking the mountains above Tucson, Arizona with a stone patio and valley views from the heated pool for $57 per couple, per night for five couples.

Or, lap up some luxury in a five-star beachfront apartment in Thailand with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a private balcony, use of a Jacuzzi, and an outdoor pool, for about $46 per couple, per night for two couples.

To find house rentals, try searching on VRBO.com, where you can peruse photos, compare amenities, and check the calendar for rental availability. Then, contact the owner directly via the phone number given.

Vamoose.com, for house and condo rentals, claims to be the world’s largest vacation rental directory. You start by entering your desired location, then you can refine your search by rental type, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, price range, and amenities. This is just a directory, so you can’t reserve here, but you will find links to the property managers’ sites.

For apartment rentals in Europe, WaytoStay.com covers Barcelona, Lisbon, Paris, Madrid, Valencia, and Berlin. You can book immediately through the site. An initial online prepayment is required, with the balance payable on arrival.

You may have to do some sifting and sorting on your own, but Craigslist.org also lists vacation rentals under “housing.” This might be the place to look if you want to deal directly with the renter and possibly negotiate prices.

Another site to try is WorldVacationRentals.net, which divides rentals up by activity — ski chalets, golf lodgings, and beach rentals; and property type — homes, apartments, chalets, villas, condos, farmhouses, and townhouses. From the site, you can contact the renters directly, or via an online email form.

A few tips before you rent:

** Ask about amenities, making sure the rental has everything you need, like kitchen utensils, internet, washer and dryer, etc. And don’t forget to ask for the name and phone number of the person to call if anything is missing or breaks.

** Check seasonal rates before you book, as some rental prices fluctuate immensely from one season to the next.

** Make sure you’ve booked a rental car if you need one, and that you know how to get to the home or apartment you’ve rented before you leave (you’ll find secret tips from a rental car manager here in our archives: Rental Car Manager Reveals: Six Keys to Good Deals and Fast Service).

** To make sure you snag the best rentals before they’re taken, always book ahead. Now could be a good time to start booking your summer vacation rental.

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]

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