If we are going to be at a destination for three nights or longer I look for a rental property on Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO.com). Usually I start by looking for a two bedroom, two bathroom place. If prices seem to high then I can lower my standards to two bedroom, one bathroom or even a one bedroom, one bathroom as long as there is a sleep sofa.
I usually start my search by plugging my dates and location into their website. Then I start adding filters such as properties with wifi and washing machines. Next I start going through the listings. I am prone to contact a place that has had lots of reviews as that tells me this is an experienced renter and the property probably has everything I need.
One thing I have realized is listing price might be a low amount. Depending on when you go, you should expect actual prices to be higher. For example prices are typically higher over holiday weekends, or the summer for a beach rental. Generally you will get better rates if you stay for a week. And expect that there will also be a cleaning fee tacked on to the rate. Finally, there is the hassle of needing to coordinate time to pick up the keys and check out.
Despite the price fluctuations, cleaning fees, and key hassles, I still find these properties to be a great deal. We once stayed in downtown Charleston in a two bedroom, three bathroom, two story rental for less than what we would have paid for a hotel. We stayed at the top of an overlook in Pittsburgh in a two bedroom, once again cheaper than we would have paid for a hotel room without an incredible view. In Sedona, Arizona we stayed in an awesome three bedroom house surrounded by amazing views. In Santa Fe, New Mexico we had another amazing house in the downtown area.
With our upcoming trip we have two VRBO.com rentals. Both are two bedroom, two bathrooms and both have washing machines. One is in the historical area of Florence – a block from their famous duomo and walking distance to sites such as the Accademia and Uffizi center. In Rome our lodging is right next to a metro stop, a large museum, and a block from a large park. My husband and I can go to the museum without the kids if we want (by taking turns) and we can all run around in the park if we want. Both of these places are cheaper than a small hotel room.
Other advantages of renting an apartment/home versus a hotel room include access to washing machines without having to go to a laundromat. This enables us to pack super light. A huge advantage for my husband and I is having the extra space and separate sleeping area from the kids. Another advantage is that if we don’t feel like going out to eat we can just cook something on our own or have take out delivered and we don’t have to eat that take out on a bed.
So, the next time you go on an adventure and need lodging for more than two nights I highly recommend checking a site such as VRBO.com or Airbnb.com (I have never used that site). We have had great luck with VRBO.com (and hopefully I have not jinxed it with this post).