Vacation Rentals: 11 Pros to Staying in VRBO’s and 4 Cautions!

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Our first choice in accommodations when we travel is vacation rental . We’ve stayed in them for trips small and large, from weekend trips to the mountains just an hour from our home to longer vacations overseas. Almost all our experiences have been fantastic, and we’ve saved a lot of money by choosing vacation rentals over hotels.

Some vacation rental owners will even offer extra services, such as guided tours or catered meals. Click here to read more about a fabulous dinner by the seashore we enjoyed while traveling in Corinth, Greece with friends.

11 Reasons to Stay at VRBO’s

  1. Economical – We find that it is often cheaper to stay in a vacation rental than in a hotel, especially if more than two people are traveling. If you are traveling with a large group, it can be downright cheap by the time the costs are split on a large vacation rental. This is the case both for traveling in the United State and for international travel.
  2. Great for traveling with friends – Most vacation rentals offer plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms, so they make great accommodations for large groups. Everyone gets their own bedroom, and often their own bathroom, while enjoying plenty of common areas to hang out together.
  3. Able to explore the local markets and cook your own food – We love to try new restaurants when we are traveling, but we also enjoy exploring the local markets, especially the outdoor markets, purchasing fresh local produce, and cooking in the Vacation Rental. Houses come equipped with full kitchens, dishes, pots, pans, coffee makers and many other gadgets to make food prep easy. For people wanting to save money while traveling, especially if traveling with a large group, the ability to purchase and prepare your own food is a much more economical option than going out to eat for every meal.
  4. Fridge on hand for snacks and drinks – We love picking up some local cheese and bottle of wine to put in the fridge to enjoy after a night out. Being able to stock up on snacks and drinks is handy and a money saver. I’m not a big breakfast eater, but often the people I travel with want something in the morning. It’s great to have some bagels or bread in the fridge to toast and a bottle of juice for a light breakfast.
  5. Great info on local attractions – Owners of vacation rentals are eager to share what’s great about the area and will almost always have a binder of the best restaurants nearby, local attractions, how to get to the nearest transportation, and who to contact if you have questions. Many of the most memorable dining experiences from our travels are a result of recommendations from vacation rental owners pointing us in the direction of the favorite eatery of the locals.
  6. Quieter than a hotel – Even when the vacation rental is an apartment, we’ve always found them to be much quieter than a hotel. No listening to hoards of people tramping up and down the hallways or yelling at the pool.
  7. More like home – There are comfortable couches and chairs to relax in after returning from a long day of touring, with room to spread out, and dining room tables are great for games and socializing. I’ve always hated trying to find a relaxing yet upright position on a hotel bed when I want to unwind after being out all day, but I’m not ready to lay down or go to bed.
  8. Free parking (usually!) – Most vacation rental s, even in the city, will have a place to park your car either in the driveway, or nearby, at no charge. Even in larger cities, if there isn’t parking included with the vacation rental, the owners often have recommendations for the cheapest and safest places to park close to the home.
  9. Washer and dryer on site – Almost all the homes we’ve stayed in have a washer and dryer available for use. This is one amenity I love as I don’t have to pack as many clothes if I am able to wash them along the way.
  10. Toys included! – Many owners provide recreational equipment, such as bikes, boogie boards, paddle boards, sleds, and other fun toys that are useful when staying in the area.
  11. Easier to travel with pets – Even though hotels offer pet-friendly rooms, you still have to trek from your room to the grassy area beyond the parking lot every time they need to go out. We’ve stayed in vacation rentals with fenced in backyards where our dog can go outside with just the turn of a door handle to stretch his legs. Some even have doggie-doors! And since houses are often quieter than hotels, we don’t have to worry about our over-protective fido barking at every footstep overhead or slamming door down the hall.

4 Reasons to be Cautious of a Vacation Rental

  1. Some are bad – Just like hotels, some are not so good. They might be dirty, decrepit, or in a bad neighborhood. Read the reviews of any property you plan to rent, and if there are more than a handful of negative reviews, really think before booking. Often you can discern if the bad review is based on a truly bad experience or if the traveler is just never happy wherever they go. A bad experience can happen at good properties, but if there are multiple reviews expressing the same concerns, then beware.
  2. Owners can cancel – We’ve had this happen on two occasions. Once the owner’s cancelled on us because they sold the property, but we were given three months of notice and they sent a list of suggested similar properties to assist us in booking another house. The second time, it was because the owner’s plans fell through and he told us less than a week before we were to arrive for a conference that the vacation rental was no longer available because he was now staying home. He refunded us all of our money, but we ended up needing to book a hotel in downtown San Francisco because of the short notice and spent three times the amount that we had booked his vacation rental for many months prior. Needless to say, we left him a not-so-shining review.
  3. Fewer amenities than a hotel – When you rent through VRBO, you give up a lot of the conveniences of a hotel, such as maid service and room service. Most of the homes and apartments will not come with a pool (though some do!), vending machines, or an on-site restaurant/bar.
  4. Not as much security as a hotel – Hotels and the grounds are often very well lit and offer security guards on site. The security in a vacation rental is typically no more than the locks on the doors and any lights you’ve left on.

Helpful Links for vacation rental homes:

There are many other links available if you search “vacation rental homes”, but these are the only two we have experience with and can recommend currently.

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