For almost no money and just a little time, you can help your guests feel at home with a guest manual and compilation of local tips. Buy a three-ring binder and fill it with information about the area your rental is in, using dividers to separate categories. Some things you might include:
- Favorite restaurants, including menu recommendations, directions, price ranges, and best time of day to go
- Local boat, bicycle, sports and recreational equipment rentals
- Information on nearby museums, zoos, parks, historical sites, shows, shopping districts, etc.
- The best local grocery stores, bakeries, ice cream parlors, drugstores, movie theaters, video rentals, etc.
- Restaurants and attractions to avoid and why
- Contact information for the home itself, you, the manager (if it’s someone other than you), local hospital, police station, fire department, poison control, animal control, electrician, plumber, or anyone else your guests may need to get in touch with during their stay
- Instructions for operating thermostats, electronic and computer equipment, appliances, recreational equipment, safe, and alarm system
- Checkout procedures for dealing with trash, used linens, leftover food, fireplace ashes, turning off or unplugging all lights and appliances, keys and locking up, thermostats, dirty dishes, and broken or damaged items
- TV channel guide
- Where to find household tools, first aid kit, sewing kit, cleaning supplies, and extra toilet paper, paper towels, etc.
- A copy of your property rules regarding smoking, pets, parties, etc.
- Add a pocket folder in which to place tourism brochures and flyers for the area. Eventually, you may have to place these in a shoebox, as your collection grows (depending on the amount of attractions there are in the area, of course).
- Trail and street maps can be extremely helpful, since most guests are unfamiliar with the area.
- Print out a 10-day weather forecast from weather.com – it may not always be correct, but it at least gives vacationers a rough idea with which to plan their week’s activities.
- If you have postcards printed from photos of your home, you can include some of these in or near the guest manual for renters to send home to their friends and family. They’ll love showing off their “home-away-from-home,” and it provides inexpensive advertising for you. Make sure your contact information is printed on the backs of the cards for interested parties.
- You can even let your guests help you maintain this collection of tips by including a section at the back of the book (or adding a separate book, if need be) for them to add their reviews of local restaurants, activities, tourist attractions, and more. They’ll love being able to voice their opinions, and other guests will appreciate their fellow travelers’ advice.