Airbnb. VRBO. Home Away. Hotels. Boutique Hotels…

When I travel with friends, attend weddings or just want a weekend away I typically go to AirbnB, VRBO or Home Away before resorting to a hotel. If I am alone I typically choose a hotel.  Sharing a house with a group of people saves money on the per person cost, allows you to cook or have beverages at home, gives you more time to spend with your friends and family and is typically in a more local location instead of touristy.

I have had some really great experiences and pretty bad ones so I wanted to share some tips to help you get the most out of your trip.

  1. Research the location that you want to stay at in that city based on what you are looking for. You can always find last minute places but the best places will go 6 months+ out especially if it is for 8+ people.  Many people book year after year.
  2. Make a list of what you want most out of the place.  Is it just a crash pad?  Do you want to be close to the beach?  Is it summer and you need a big pool?  Will you be cooking and need a big kitchen?
  3. Figure out what the group budget is per person and how much that will allow for each day.  Remember there will be a cleaning fee.
  4. When you are searching put in the location map where you want to stay, budget, amenities and voila you have narrowed your search down to only ones that are right for you. I also make sure they have 4-5 star reviews and many of them.
  5. Once you find a few that you like contact the host directly with a professional but honest reason for staying.  I say honest because if you plan on having a girls weekend and the owner only wants a family they may bug you when you get there.
  6. The owners response will be exactly how they will treat you when they are there.  Do they just accept it right away? You probably won’t be getting a bottle of wine at the door and greeted with restaurant recommendations.  Do they ask a couple questions about you first?  They want to make sure you aren’t going to destroy their house.  Do they call you having a lot of prior knowledge about you from your online profiles and ask a ton of questions?  They are going to micromanage your every move all weekend.
  7. Request to book.  There will be a cleaning deposit and security deposit.  With AirbnB I wouldn’t worry about the security deposit as they have really good customer service and are going to make sure something really happened.  The cleaning fee is a one time fee for them to clean the apartment.
  8. Contact your host a week before to let them know when you are arriving if it is separate from the check-in time and let them know how many guests you have. Have fun but be respectful of their place.
  9. If there is a cleaning fee you aren’t required to clean and typically they will ask if you strip sheets and throw out garbage.  I always do that and keep the place clean in case I want to come back.  I also want a good review.

Facts:

  • You are unlikely to get scammed.  They have good insurance and vet people.
  • Read the cancellation policy.  You may get stuck paying the deposit if you cancel.
  • I have never been unsatisfied with one that I have chosen because I am very specific about what I want and read the reviews.  If a review is all families and I am having a bachelorette party it may not be a great fit.
  • It is generally safe.  Again, I am not booking poorly rated places and I do a lot of research.

I HIGHLY recommend using these home sites when traveling.  I have had a 10 times better experience doing this than staying at even fancy hotels.  The social aspect makes it so much more fun.

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