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Tips for Using VRBO to Book Vacation Rentals

Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO) has become a go-to resource for people booking independent vacation rentals. A few years ago, most travelers wouldn’t think of confirming a rental outside of a trusted rental agency, but the robust inventory on VRBO and other direct listing sites (like HomeAway) is too compelling to ignore. Here are a few things to consider before booking directly with an owner via one of these resources.                                                  

What is the main difference between using a rental agency or a resource like VRBO? 

High-quality rental agencies review their inventories thoroughly, and in concept, any number of the properties in a given portfolio meet baseline quality standards.  Sites such as VRBO or HomeAway don’t vet the properties they publish.  One thing to keep in mind is that pictures can be deceiving.   The other big difference is the volume of services provided.  Usually, a high-quality rental agency will offer extra services, such as a local host and/or concierge-type activity planning. This list can be extensive—an important feature for families that want to minimize the time they spend working out the logistics of a trip.  That said, there are owners that will provide many additional services too including activity advice, extra housekeeping, a cook, and/or babysitting referrals. 

Given the risk and service differences—why consider VRBO at all? 

Inventory and price are the biggest reasons a family should consider VRBO.  High-quality rental agencies usually have inventory in the main tourist zones, but limited options in off-path areas.  VRBO has options everywhere.  The downside of this is that you may have to sift through many options to create a short-list, which can be very time-consuming.  In theory, there is price benefit to going through VRBO since owners don’t need to worry about paying commissions to agencies or paying for additional management services.   

For more information on VRBO, as well as a list of suggested questions reference questions, see our complete article on How and Why to Use VRBO 

Visit for more kid-friendly travel tips, expert advice, hotel recommendations and more.  Follow us on Twitter @CiaoBambino.

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