Vacation Rentals: HomeAway vs Airbnb vs VRBO

Best Place for Vacation Rentals – Reviews

The world of travel and vacation rentals is changing. Where people would before turn to hotels for all their accommodation needs, a recent trend in websites that allow private residences to open their doors to travelers has made it easier than ever to find an affordable place to stay.

Vacations are often the highlight of people’s year. During the busiest days and weeks almost everyone stops and thinks to herself, “wow I need a vacation”. Most people only get one a year, plus maybe a getaway on a holiday weekend. Full vacations and shorter jaunts are one of the keys to avoiding burnout. Making more time to travel during the year is an often overlooked tool to increase satisfaction at home and productivity at work. However, other than time, the other barrier to more travel time is money. Thankfully the 21st century internet has disrupted these barriers. Initially travel sites focused on finding deals on airline tickets, hotels and rental cars.  These three sites changed all that.

But now there’s a big decision to make. Do you book your next stay through VRBO, Airbnb, or HomeAway? The three services will be compared below.

Airbnb Review

The ”bnb” in Airbnb stands for bed and breakfast, those throwbacks to old hospitality rituals you usually find in more secluded towns. These testaments to a time gone by are often a large house where patrons rent a room for a weekend and the owner makes breakfast for all the guests. It is more personal than a hotel and guests often mingle with each other in the common areas.

screenshot from airbnb.com

Airbnb updates this concept. Now those with extra rooms in their home or apartment can rent their space out to travelers to make a little extra cash. Owners list their space on the website and set the price they wish to charge. It is a simple concept that works really well for those hoping to keep vacation budgets low. It also helps owners who use the service to make a little extra cash off their property.

Advantages of Airbnb

  • Cheaper lodging

Many Airbnb rentals are available at a fraction of the cost of staying in a hotel. Like some hotels, owners often offer breakfast or other meals as well. Saving you money two different ways.

  • Flexibility

Hotels are limited to whatever area they are in. For example airports and downtown areas tend to have a cluster of hotels around them. While they may be in popular tourist areas, sometimes visitors want to experience their destination as if they were a local. Airbnb allows you to find lodging just about anywhere are ay given time. So if you want to stay in a place where there are no hotels, you can probably find an Airbnb there.

Disadvantages of Airbnb

  • No regulation

Hotels are heavily regulated by the state, which means that you can be assured of minimum standards of safety and quality. Exceptions are fairly easy to spot and reviews can help you weed them out. Airbnb includes reviews, but lacks strict regulation. Creative listers can make their room seem larger or more comfortable than it really is with no real consequences other than a bad review. Hotels are regularly monitored by the government making for a more standard experience.

  • Speed and Ease

Need a hotel room tonight? Just make a reservation. There may be an event in town that means all the rooms are booked, but that is fairly rare. Though there are some listers on Airbnb are setup to instantly approve a reservation, some take longer to approve you as a potential guest.

  • Privacy

Some Airbnb rooms are more private than others. This also means some have more restrictive rules regarding noise. If you are the type to keep interaction at a minimum, hotel rooms may be a better bet.

Tips

  • Fully fill out your profile. This will make for easier approval for rentals.
  • Pay attention to neighborhoods. Always check that you will be comfortable in the neighborhood around the Airbnb you are considering. Some travelers are more adventurous than others.
  • Check reviews. Just like a hotel, make sure you check the reviews. these can give insight into the accuracy of the listing and clues to the setting a sand safety of its location.
  • Pay attention to house rules. Nobody likes a rude guest. Follow the rules and respect the owner of the property. Not only is it polite, but they can also wreck your ability to get Airbnbs in the future with bad reviews.

Airbnb can add variety to your vacations and lighten the hit to your wallet. Use it wisely and you can both enhance your trips, and perhaps take a few more throughout the year.

VRBO Review

Inspired by AirBNB, VRBO makes it easy for vacationers to find affordable, unique housing options and get a different view of an area than they might otherwise.

screenshot from Vrbo

Pros of VRBO

One of the biggest advantages of using VRBO is the amount of money a person can save. Where a hotel may be as much as $350 a night in New York City, rentals on VRBO average $219. That’s over a $100 difference — easily enough to afford a longer stay or better dinners at great restaurants.

Another great perk is the privacy. Many properties are totally private, usually secondary homes the owners like to rent out. That means you don’t have to worry about loud guests in the hallways, hotel staff walking into the room uninvited, or an overcrowded lobby when you go to leave.

These properties tend to be in locations away from the tourist zones. While some may see this as a disadvantage, it allows travelers to have a more authentic experience in their destination.

Cons of VRBO

There are some downsides to using a short-term rental service like VRBO, however. One of the primary ones is that the photographs may be misleading; when you arrive, you may find a location that is nothing at all like the one advertised.

Listings are also not available 24/7; if you find a listing you fall in love with, it may be booked on the dates of your vacation. This can be discouraging, and because reservations take longer than they do at hotels, you may not be able to get a short-term rental at the last minute.

On occasion, the hosts in charge of your rental may not be so wonderful. If they turn out to be overly intrusive, rude, or inconsiderate, it can turn your stay into a nightmare. While most hosts like this are quickly weeded out, it’s still a possibility that you could get caught with a host you don’t want.

Perhaps worst of all, your rental may not always be safe. Because these are private residences, some homes may be located in less-than-desirable areas. If this is the case, you will need to be very aware of your surroundings.

Tips

To make the most out of renting on VRBO.com, here is a bit of advice.

  • Don’t wait until the last minute to book. Many of the best listings fill up quickly, so try to plan ahead and find a place to stay several weeks before your departure date.
  • Make sure to thoroughly read reviews and pay attention to what other guests have to say about the location. While reviews are not always accurate, they’re your best bet.
  • Finally, have a backup plan. If you arrive and find your rental isn’t that great, the host is rude, or the area is unsafe, have a backup plan: a second choice, a nearby hotel, etc. Be prepared to walk away if you have been lied to, and know how to file a complaint with the service.

Using short-term rental services like VRBO is the future of vacation rentals. It has already done much to revolutionize travel, and now it’s making the lives of tourists much easier. Take advantage of these rentals to see parts of your destination you may never see otherwise.

HomeAway Review

Update: Homeaway and VRBO have merged.

If you are hoping to travel somewhere nice soon, but you don’t want to stay in a touristy hotel or at some grungy motel/RV camp/friend’s place, then Homeaway.com is where you need to go.

screenshot from HomeAway

What does HomeAway.com do?

It’s simple. This site allows homeowners to list their homes for you to stay at while they are away on vacation themselves. Some homeowners also have multiple homes, so they have one that they stay in and one (or more) that they upkeep for the sole purpose of renting out. In other words, you get to stay at a really great place while on vacation at a reasonable rate, and the homeowner gets to make their residence work for them while they are out enjoying life. It’s a win-win!

Pros of HomeAway

I wanted to take the time to find out as much as I could about HomeAway.com before I told you about it, so I spent some time playing around with the different features to see what all it could do. Let me say this: the navigation of the user interface is absolutely excellent.

I was able to select a destination that I wanted to go to, pick my arrival date, pick my departure date, and voila! Immediately, Homeaway.com pulled up a number of different houses that I could stay at while traveling.

For example, I live in the Charlotte, NC area, so I decided to see what houses were available for rent in the nearby area. I was shocked to find that there were a number of very nice houses available for rent near this beautiful nearby lake, with prices ranging from $67/night to $400/night.

The website is also excellent in providing you with the option to see different pictures of the inside and outside of any house that you select, and they require that the owner writes a description of the place so that you know what you will be getting in to. Generally speaking, they will let you in on what amenities are available at the house, how many beds, and how many baths. They also include the suitability requirements of anyone who wants to stay there, and Homeaway.com has a money-back guarantee if something goes incredibly wrong.

Cons of HomeAway

Truly, it was difficult to find anything that I didn’t like about HomeAway.com. The next time that I travel, I plan to use this service to book a place to stay. There were only two things that I can mention that I didn’t like.

First, I found it very difficult to find any information regarding the legalities of staying at someone else’s place. I wanted to know if I needed to pay any extra for renter’s insurance while on the property or something along those lines, and I was not able to readily find this information.

Secondly, I did not like that the only way you could contact the owner of the property was via phone call or the on-site messaging service. I would like to see the addition of an email option for ease of access.

What’s the Result?

All in all, Homeaway.com is an excellent site to use for travel planning. You can literally find homes that are listed all over the world where you can stay while on vacation, and its super-easy user interface makes navigating a breeze. Just by researching this site to tell you about it, I have already decided that Homeaway.com is going to be my personal travel destination planner moving forward from here on out! It’s just that good!

Who has the best mobile app and website?

In our opinion, VRBO provides a better web experience, while Airbnb provides a better mobile experience. Airbnb is also more in tune with the on-the-go traveler, so it stands to reason that their primary focus would be on a beautiful mobile experience.

Does HomeAway, Airbnb or VRBO have the best customer service?

We haven’t had a bad experience with any of the services, and based on what we’ve read in the reviews, all three are quick to make things right on your behalf. Most have consumer protection on both sides, so whether you are the renter or the owner of the rental, you are likely to be protected in the event of a negative experience.

Which vacation rental service is your favorite? Do you have a favorite among HomeAway, Airbnb, and VRBO? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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