Founder of VRM Intel Amy Hinote tells us why renting a vacation home is the best way to travel.
HOW DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR LOVE FOR TRAVEL?
When I was young, my parents fell in love with a remote strip of white sand beach on the Alabama Gulf Coast called Fort Morgan, and each summer we would spend a week in a private vacation home rental along this beach.
Those weeks filled with sun, surf, adventures, bonfires, and fireworks created the best memories I have of my family and childhood.
WHAT IS YOUR TRAVEL PHILOSOPHY?
Go slow and take extra time. I tack on days to every business trip to enjoy an area, and I drive instead of fly whenever possible. I like to read and write on the road and find that I’m calmer and more creative in beautiful scenery.
On my last eighteen-month road trip, for my book The Power of a Vacation, I compiled quotes, poems and lyrics by authors who wrote about how much meaning travel adds to our lives.
WHICH DESTINATIONS WOULD YOU LIKE TO REVISIT?
I’ve been traveling a lot over the last three years, so I would like to go back to non-commercialized areas like Vancouver Island, North Captiva Island, and Bald Head Island, although it looks like Bald Head took quite a hit from the last hurricane.
WHERE WAS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE TRIP?
Little Bay in St. Maarten, on the Dutch side, was amazing! I went with some friends, and we spent lazy days swimming and sunning and then had some great dinners and cocktails. Traveling with like minded friends makes everything more fun.
WHAT MAKES A VACATION RENTAL GREAT FOR TRAVELING?
Definitely the space. Having a separate living area and a private outdoor area makes the vacation better. A fully equipped kitchen helps save money with meals, and a washer and dryer means you don’t have to pack as much.
It is just unique to be able to feel like you are “living” somewhere instead of “staying” somewhere.
WHAT ARE SOME VACATION RENTALS YOU GO BACK TO?
I spend every January at Summer House in Orange Beach, Alabama. I’ve visited a few rentals that I will definitely return to: a house called Serendipity on North Captiva Island, Florida; and a cabin called Smoky Mountain Manor in Sevierville, Tennessee.
There was also a beach house called B & Ds on the Beach on St George Island; and The Lodge at Mendham Mill in County Suffolk in England. All the rentals I stayed in, in the United States, had private pools and amazing views. And the one in England had a beautiful centuries old walled garden and it even came with a canoe to use on the river that runs through the manor.
WHAT DESTINATIONS ARE IDEAL FOR VACATION RENTALS?
Most beach destinations have private beach houses and condominiums, while mountain destinations have ski resorts, cabins, and chalets.
In Europe, many of the vacation homes are hundreds of years old, and travelers can choose city flats, castles, or farm houses. We are even seeing tree houses gain mainstream popularity as a holiday rental. In short, if it there is a type of home that is your fantasy, you can find it now as a rental.
WHAT’S ONE TRAVEL ADVICE PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT?
Arrive at a rental home during the day instead of getting there at night. You will have a better overall feeling in the home if you can explore inside and outside while there is still daylight.
If there is anything wrong, you can still get someone on the phone; and if you forget something, you can make it to a store. Getting to a European manor home built in the 1600s or to a cabin in the woods at midnight has a little creepy factor.
WHAT’S THE PERFECT HOLIDAY DESTINATION THIS YEAR?
I don’t think people realize how fun it is to spend the holidays in a rental. The southeast Gulf Coast beach destinations in the United States have amazing weather and low crowds.
I have friends who take their families to a mountain cabin for a week over Christmas. For example, to Whistler, Colorado, Gatlinburg or Blue Ridge. It forces you to get your shopping done ahead of time. So when you get to your rental, you can relax, play games with the family, and roast marshmallows. And many managers and hosts will even help you put up a Christmas tree if you want.
WHAT’S NEXT ON YOUR BUCKET LIST FOR 2019?
After spending a couple of months in Europe, I am dialing it back and exploring new out-of-the-way locations in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.
Where I am in my life today, I want to see more stars and find more peace and quiet, and nature. My goal is to rejuvenate in 2019 and get ready for more travel abroad in 2020.
WHICH CITY IS MOST MEMORABLE TO YOU?
This is tough. In the United States, New Orleans is special because its history, architecture, and culture are unique. And Chicago is surprisingly easy to navigate. There is a lot to do, and the people are Midwest-true blue. Internationally, Barcelona has a whole lot to offer, and Paris is a must-see. If you stay in Paris, check out Paris Perfect if you want a solid city rental. In all these cities, be prepared to eat!
TELL US ABOUT A TRAVEL EXPERIENCE THAT STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH.
Figuring out transportation has always been my weakness. The first time I got on a bus in Barcelona, but I didn’t know how to pay. I didn’t know Spanish and I was so flustered. The entire bus was yelling at me while I desperately kept repeating je ne sais pas! — which, of course, is French for “I don’t know.” So it didn’t help the situation. I felt like the dumbest American traveler alive, but it still cracks me up thinking about it!