Thursday, May 21, 2015

Vacation Rental Tips When Using VRBO.COM

Choosing vacation accommodations does not necessarily need to result in lodging at a chain hotel or resort. Many times, vacationers will consider renting a condo, cottage or villa from a private owner. One of the more popular sites for finding such vacation rentals is through or This website has listings of vacation accommodations for just about anywhere around the globe. The concept of this website is brilliant as it provides a site for private owners to list their properties and describe their rental to the open market of renters visiting the website. Each rental listing typically includes pictures, description, availability calendar, list of amenities nearby, map and pricing. It is an ideal marketplace to navigate a desired location and pick that one spot that looks ideal for your next vacation. I have been using this website for nearly thirteen years and learned a few helpful tricks and tips that are worthy of mention.  

Before falling in love with the glamorous picture of that Maui villa or mountainside cabin in Aspen, the prospective renter needs to consider carefully these points below before deciding to book a stay through this site.

1.       Read all prior renter reviews carefully. Most vacation listings have a history of comments by previous renters. Pay attention to these comments. A few comments on the board about lack of cleanliness or noise complaints can be a red flag to move on to the next listing. I try to keep an open mind on some of the testimonials as even the most generous and meticulously clean landlords will occasionally have a one or two negative reviews on their listing due to occupants that had unrealistic expectations.
2.       Avoid rental cost surprises.  Most listings show the different rates charged to renters for the duration of their stay. Typically the rates will fluctuate by high and low seasons. Read all the fine print on listing and on rental agreement. Most owners will charge the weekly fee, then also add in a security deposit/damage deposit and perhaps also charge a state tax. If the vrbo listing by owner is vague on actual price, then e-mail the owner to request a complete cost breakdown for the duration of stay. It is always a good idea to get the total cost breakdown in writing before making that PayPal or credit card deposit. A negotiated amount over the phone can get lost in translation, so keep it in writing.
3.       Make use of the map features when searching a property. If the listing has a map link, you will certainly want to click on it to know where the accommodations will be in proximity to other places of interest (water, amusement park, restaurants, etc.). That great deal you were quoted for a week’s vacation may be low because it is in a poor location.
4.       Scrutinize rental pictures closely. If the unit description explains that the rental has two bedrooms, then make sure the pictures of each bedroom are shown on the listing.  Also be wary of listings that show only interior pictures of unit and no outside pictures. If falling in love with unit is only based on inside the property, consider e-mailing the owner to get an exterior picture.  
5.       Consider the “extras” included in the rental. Several property listings may include items in the weekly rental price that a vacationer may have to purchase extra for. For example, renting a villa or condo on the Outer Banks that includes bicycles or beach cart for the week may save money when considering the extra cost one would have to pay renting these items ala cart from a local store. Similar amenities may include access to pools, tennis courts, or golf courses. These can be excellent perks to your next vacation.
6.       Considering a pet friendly rental.   I actually stumbled upon VRBO several years ago through a search engine when perusing South Carolina coastal properties that were “pet friendly” as we like to take our mild mannered golden retriever along for the week. The website has a filter that will list only those properties in which the owners allow renters to bring their dog for the week. Typically there is an extra pet deposit required for such rentals. This is also important feature for those people highly allergic to pets that need to avoid such properties.

Bottom line for newcomers to VRBO is to read the listings carefully. Do not hesitate to ask ownership regarding any concerns prior to booking the trip. If there are no reviews on a listing, then do some detective work and request more pictures from owner. Also Google the address to see if there is something revealed that might send up a reason not to rent.  

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