How to Plan the Perfect Cabin Getaway

There’s nothing quite like relaxing in a mountain cabin rental while on vacation to set your mind and body completely at rest. The planning you put into your getaway will determine whether that rest becomes a reality, or a frustrating nightmare that just won’t go away, even long after your vacation is over. Here are eight questions to ask yourself to help in that travel planning process.

Water Fall in the Shenandoah National Park Virginia

Why do you Want to Go?

There are many reasons you might choose to rent a cabin. Perhaps you’re looking for a romantic getaway with that special someone. Maybe you’re an author looking for a place to write. Perhaps photography is your forte, and you’re trying to find the perfect place for some outdoor scenic images. Maybe you’re simply looking for lodging near an attraction that you’ve always wanted to see. Whatever your reason, the first step in choosing your vacation rental cabin is figuring out why you want to go. Once you know that, you’ll be able to eliminate some options, and focus specifically on those that fit your needs.

What amenities are an Absolute Must?

Some amenities are nice, some wouldn’t interest you at all, but some are absolutely essential. Make a list of those amenities that are a must-have, and you’ll be that much closer to selecting a getaway that will make you happy. Be sure to take into consideration everyone who is going. If dad is happy, but the kids and mom have nothing to do, dad will wind up miserable too.

What amenities would Add to your Experience?

Some things are not essential, but would help your cabin getaway to be even more enjoyable. Do a little brainstorming with the whole crew, and make a list of things that you’d like to have if possible. You might think of features like a pool table, cable television, fireplace, hot tub, swimming pool, air conditioning, etc. You see, the word “cabin” covers a wide range of rental facilities, from very rustic to very modern. Make sure you know what you’d like before you start looking, and you’ll be that much more likely to wind up with a good experience.

What options do I have?

Now it’s time to start looking. The internet is a good place to begin, as most rental cabins have websites to show off what they offer. Do searches such as “Virginia cabin rentals,” or “cabin rentals near (attraction or city). Quickly eliminate any that don’t have your absolute musts, and evaluate carefully the ones that are missing your desires. Hopefully you can narrow it down to a small selection of cabins that meet nearly all of your expectations.

Don’t forget to ask your friends for their advice. They can be a tremendous source of information, especially if they’ve rented something similar to what you’re looking for.

What exactly do they have?

Carefully review each of the cabins on your short list. Compare each one with your list of amenities and desired features, and rank them with your first choice being number one, second choice number two, etc. Make sure to spend time looking at pictures. Most will have either a photo album or a video walkthrough. You might find even more pictures on their Facebook page. Look through the whole website and carefully evaluate everything you see. Pay special attention to details, as the little things can make or break your vacation.

How much will this cost?

Carefully evaluate the total cost for your getaway. Be sure to check the website for the rate, the taxes, and any additional fees. Many cabin rentals charge extra fees for linens, cleaning, processing, extra persons, damage deposits, and so on. If you’re not absolutely certain from looking at the internet, pick up the phone and give them a call. This is your vacation and your money, and finding out about hidden costs at check-in will certainly put a bad taste in your mouth, and negatively affect the rest of your vacation.

Can I talk to somebody?

Use the phone to do some of your research. Talk to the owners/managers, and get a feel for what they’re like. Someone who patiently answers all of your questions would likely be a good person to rent from. Ask questions about anything you’d like to know, especially things you don’t quite understand. It may be useful to find out how far you’ll have to drive to find restaurants, gas stations, and stores. If you want to visit any specific attractions, be sure to ask how long it will take to get there. Check on what is provided, and what you need to bring along.

How do I get there?

Make sure you know the way. GPS’s are nice, but don’t depend on them entirely. Many cabins are located in remote areas, and the GPS may not find them accurately. Sometimes, even Mapquest will take you the long way around, on roads that are not the ideal choice. No one knows the best way like the folks who live there, so trust their directions. They can even help you with problems like road construction or seasonal closures. They probably have directions posted on the website, but if not, you can get them via phone or email.

Finding the answers to these eight questions will help you plan the perfect getaway, so that when you arrive, all that’s left is to kick back and relax.

About the Author:
Stan Horst, his wife Deb, and their two teenagers, have been renting out cabins since 1995 to guests from all over the world! They pride themselves on providing a quality Blue Ridge Mountain experience, with no hassles and no surprises. To find out more, visit their website at

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2 thoughts on “How to Plan the Perfect Cabin Getaway

  • Sherman Frank

    With a young 3 year old son, I agree with your article that it is very important to know where the closest grocery store, restaurants are. Of course being a last minute planner I didn’t consider this on my last cabin rental and ended up driving 2 hours just to buy milk eggs and pancake batter.