A Beginners Guide to Booking a VRBO Vacation Rental

We have three kids, which is apparently the mark of a "large" family. We love to travel, but it can sometimes be difficult to find hotel accommodations that will work for our whole family. Especially now that kids older than 12 {which all of mine are} are considered adults. We are often renting two hotel rooms and it can get pricey! Plus, space is limited. It's why VRBO rentals have been a game-changer for us. I only wish we had found them sooner.

Sometimes we get limited in our hotel options but not anymore! VRBO allows you to find exactly what you are looking for and lets you live like a local when you travel. You can choose from a fun downtown condo in the city, a sprawling house in the country or something in between. There are more than two million unique properties in 190 countries so you are sure to find something for everyone in every budget. 

Our family has used it countless times and I'm excited to show you how you can book your first VRBO rental so you can live like a local anywhere your travels take you. Before you know it, VRBO will be the first place you check for lodging. The accommodations will make you forget all about overpriced cramped hotels!

A Beginners Guide to Booking a VRBO Vacation Rental

beginners guide to booking VRBO property vacation

Set up a Travel Profile

While this isn't mandatory, you do have to realize that people are renting out their homes to you. It's nice for the owners to know who they are renting to. You will also want to verify your e-mail and one of your social media accounts. It's not mandatory but it does improve your trustworthiness to the homeowner.

Leavenworth WA
VRBO house we rented had a fully-fenced yard for the dogs and a beautiful view!

Narrow Down Where You Want to Stay

With VRBO you can live like a local and stay in a city or a neighborhood. It's best to know where you will be visiting the most on your trip so that you can select lodging in that area. Do you want to be close to public transportation and shops, or would you like to stay in an area that is more secluded? Use the map that the search has to offer so you can narrow down the area you want to stay so everything is more convenient for you.

How to Decide Where to Go Next on Your Family Vacation

Use the Filters

There are so many options that it can be overwhelming at times! Use the filters so you can find the best fit for your stay. You can input the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you are looking for, but also if it's family and/or pet friendly.

Find thousands of pet-friendly properties!

Read the Previous Reviews

I love to read what other people have to say about a property, though don't put all of your weight into a single bad review, especially if there are a multitude of glowing reviews for the same property. There are a lot of factors that come into play when someone rates their experience. 

Look at the reviews as a whole and select one that has a lot of good reviews to start off in. As you become more experienced at booking VRBO rentals you will know that you can let certain "quirks" slide and you will know more of what you are really looking for and what matters to make your experience the best.

However, if you are just starting out, go with the rental that has solid good reviews so you can have the best first experience.

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Use the Trip Boards

At the top of the website, you'll find a heart. If you found a property that could be a contender, click on the heart and add it to a file VRBO calls Trip Boards. You will be asked to label your search and then all of your favorites will be stored in the trip board that you can find at the top of your screen next to your profile.

Once I gather my favorites, then I share the results of my trip board with my family {or travel mates} and let them select their favorite from the list.

How to Make Family Travel Fun For Teens

Don't Forget the Extra Fees

While there are rentals in every budget, you do need to be aware that there are extra fees associated with your rental. You will see owner fees and cleaning fees both of which aren't refundable. You will also likely have a refundable damage deposit that unless you live like a rock star and damage the home, you will get that back.

Check the Amenities Carefully

When we travel with our family a kitchen is a necessity. It's one way that we save money, however, some locations may not have full kitchens available. What also might be something you expect {say air conditioning} in a rental in the desert, may not be something that is included. If there is something that is important to you, make sure you check your amenities carefully!

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Communication is Easy

VRBO makes it easy to ask the owner a question or send an e-mail to the owner's inbox from the site. I have always received nearly instant communication from the owners, which is helpful if you have any issues arise before, during, or after your stay. 

There's an App for That!

VRBO has an app that makes everything easy. I can view past trips, see my favorites and get access to my inbox and account. 

An amazing selection of games were included in our VRBO rental

Payments are Secure

Not only is booking easy, check out is safe and secure. VRBO has a comprehensive payment protection plan where up to 100% of the rental amount is protected. You also have access to customer service 24/7 and because of the app, you can manage all your booking on the go.

rental cabin in Wenatchee forest

It's Not a Hotel

We all know what to expect from a hotel, so I'm always pleasantly surprised when I stay at a VRBO rental and am blown away by what I call "the cherry on top." This could be a closet full of games for your family, a fully-stocked fridge, upgraded electronics, dog treats, and a fully-fenced yard in a pet-friendly home and things like Sleep Number beds, luxurious linens, bath salts, private swimming pools, and unbeatable views!

Leavenworth, WA

Review the Property

After your stay, don't forget to review the property. Those reviews you depended on while booking, are just as important to the people who are researching the same location for their next stay. 

It's like your home, but it's away from your home and from all the distractions of your life. Which is why our family won't travel any other way! Upgrade your next vacation for the same price as a small cramped hotel. Give VRBO a shot and let me know what you think.

Your whole vacation starts here.

disclaimer: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of HomeAway. All opinions are 100% my own. I wouldn't tell you about something I didn't love. Promise.


Jen said...

We love HomeAway - you can find some amazing places to stay! This location looks gorgeous - where is it? I love how you're up above the lake in amongst all the trees! Such a classic PNW location!

rachelteodoro said...

It's the absolute best! It's in Leavenworth, though it's kind of in the middle of that and Stevens pass. It made it perfect to ski for a day and head into the cute little town of Leavenworth for the day. Plus, the house was dog friendly! Best ever!

Anonymous said...

This is very surprising - I came here to look for a silver cleaning method with foil and happened to see this post. Did homeaway let you stay somewhere for free? The intro thank you to them tends to hint at it. No matter, I am just surprised at your glowing review.

Expedia bought HomeAway and VRBO for almost 4 billion dollars and since then, their entire business model has changed.

They block all communication between the owner and guest - I cannot even answer simple questions in an inquiry without it being censored (they xxxx xxxx out any web address or numbers) - there is a class action lawsuit and many homeowners are extremely displeased and most guests try to #bookdirect instead of paying an outrageous "service fee" - why would you pay homeaway up to $500 for "service" when they know absolutely nothing about the home - I have listed with them for almost 9 years, it USED to be wonderful. Now, not so much. I am grandfathered in for another year so can have guests book direct but I am way down at the bottom of any search because I don't let them take my rental payments. Guests can book direct and save by contacting the owners directly.

There are many new websites forming that are following the old business model - owners pay $500 per year to advertise and guests can contact the owners direct - NO SERVICE FEE, why are guests paying a service fee to homeaway? When you pay with paypal or square or a credit card - you are protected - the scare tactics of homeaway are insulting.

Also, because homeaway and vrbo let anyone list on the site now without paying a subscription - there are many more scammers who steal photos of properties and list there for free. At least when we all paid a subscription - there were no scammers listing there.

If you want to book a real vacation home from real people who care about their property, I suggest finding hints in the listing - the name of the property or owner's name - most owners have their own website and list in other places - just a simple google search and save the outrageous service fees that homeaway is now charging guests.

Thank you for letting a vacation home owner give their side. Here is an interesting article: https://www.geekwire.com/2016/frustrated-homeowners-say-expedias-homeaway-changes-dramatically-impact-their-rentals/

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