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Home rentals provide option for travelers in U.S., abroad

SHARE Home rentals provide option for travelers in U.S., abroad

Whether your taste runs to an apartment in a medieval tower in Perugia, a rose-trellised cottage in the heart of England or a suburban split-level in Orlando, you can rent a house away from home for your vacations.

Your accommodations will be more spacious, private and comfortable than if you squeeze into a hotel room, and they won't necessarily be more expensive. Plus, some houses come with amenities such as cleaning services, cooks, pools and tennis courts.You can save money by renting during the off-season or by venturing off the beaten path. A 200-year-old renovated convent on an acre of parkland in Provence costs $7,500 a week in high season, but that drops to $3,500 from November through April (book it through At Home in France, 541-488-9467).

In Italy, if you're willing to go outside the "Chianti Classico" corridor - the stretch of countryside between Florence and Siena - you can rent a house for as little as $300 a week, says Carl Stewart, president of Tuscan Enterprises (800-533-5405).

The most common way to arrange an overseas rental is through a U.S. broker who represents local companies that deal directly with homeowners. In most cases the broker publishes a catalog (or several, each representing a different region) and will send it to you for a fee, generally ranging from $5 to $11.

Many travel agents receive catalogs from brokers and can arrange a rental (though they may charge extra). But many brokers prefer to work directly with customers.

"We insist on speaking to whomever is renting so we can make sure they get what they want," Stewart says.

Several directories list houses that you may rent directly from the owners. World-Wide Home Rental Guide (800-299-9886) sends out two directories a year that list houses in the Caribbean, Europe, Latin America, Mexico and the United States, for an annual subscription fee of $18.

On the Internet, Barclay International (www.barclayweb.com) posts flats and houses for rent throughout Europe.