Travelers on vacation know to phone the front desk of their hotel for assistance if towels are missing or a lamp is broken. Yet, when staying in a vacation rental, guests will often suffer in silence when something is not up to snuff, saving their frustration for a scathing review afterward. Our advice is to speak up immediately.

According to Statista, there were 60 million vacation rentals in the United States in 2018, a number that is expected to continue to grow with the increased popularity of sites like Airbnb and Vrbo.

We stay in several vacation rentals a year and the vast majority have been of high quality. However, occasionally we’ll discover that something (like kitchen equipment) is in poor repair or that the hairdryer or towels are missing. In such cases, we recommend that you notify the owner or manager right away and give them a chance to remedy the situation.

Unlike hotels, which have housekeeping and maintenance services onsite, rentals can have a property owner who lives some distance away and uses a third-party cleaner or have a property management company. The owner might not be aware of an issue unless it’s brought to his or her attention by the renter.

In upstate New York last fall, the nonstick pans in our rental were badly scratched, causing the nonstick material to flake into the food. We contacted the owner, who apologized, and showed up later that afternoon with a new set of pots. In another case, the owner lived elsewhere and offered to reimburse us if we bought a new set. That worked fine, too.

During our stay in Bucharest, Romania, last summer, the kitchen faucet broke. Our Airbnb host immediately sent a plumber over. Problem solved.

Both Airbnb and Vrbo state on their websites that renters should contact the owner immediately to resolve any issues. This is far more effective than waiting to leave a negative review after the fact. Often, when we read a negative review of a place on Airbnb, the owner responds with “I wish you had let me know there was a problem.”

The bottom line: You’re paying for a place to be up to snuff; if you see something wrong, say so. Landlords want you to post a positive review and a good one will bend over backward to fix any problems. You’ll end up having a better experience for speaking up.

Philadelphia natives Larissa and Michael Milne have been global nomads since 2011. Follow their journey at