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Jeda Villa BaliOne of the growing trends in travel is finding a vacation rental on your own. A home, or some other unit, might be rented out by an owner who is only there part of the time, or by an owner who has the property exclusively for rental purposes. The owner tries to make a few bucks on a home that would otherwise sit empty, and a vacationer can receive a good deal on a rental, often saving money when compared with getting a hotel room for the duration of a longer trip.

For trips of a week or more, a vacation rental can often be just the thing. Web sites like can provide you with access to vacation rentals all over the world. But, as with almost anything you arrange online, you need to be aware of some of the risks.

Can You Find Good Vacation Rentals on

Vacation Rentals by Owner offers property owners that ability to list their vacation rentals for an annual fee. Instead of paying commission, property owners pay a flat fee. If you are looking for a vacation rental, you have a number of options. VRBO includes rentals in all 50 U.S. states, as well as in countries all over the world. VRBO places emphasis the most emphasis on the U.S. and includes information about Europe, but there is also a world map that offers access to South American, Asia, the Pacific, and even some countries in Africa. Navigation is easy using tabs and a map that allows you to pinpoint your country, state/province, or city.

Advanced options on VRBOallow you to filter your results by bedrooms, number of people the rental sleeps, property type (including cottage and castle in addition to the traditional home and apartment), location (such as beach front or ski rental), and features. It’s a great way to help you find rentals. Some of the countries are limited, but you can look on other HomeAway properties (VRBOis part of the HomeAway network) if you are looking for more options in specific countries.

It’s possible to find some good deals on VRBO, but you also want to shop around, and compare options. Just like everything else, you might not find the best deal.

Can You Trust VRBO’s Consumer Reviews?

One of the issues that comes up in a discussion of VRBO is its review policy. Since owners are basically buying a listing, it’s a lot like advertising. Owners have the option of accepting all reviews — the negative as well as the positive — or accepting no reviews. If owners don’t like the reviews that they are receiving, they can opt to have all reviews taken down, and not allow reviews to be posted at all. Other owners are more open to seeing bad reviews on occasion, and might even respond with steps taken to fix a problem.

However, you do have to be careful, since you might not be getting the full story on VRBO. It helps to look at other web sites as well, do some research on the specific property. If the experience is bad enough, chances are that someone has complained about it elsewhere — even if it doesn’t show up on the VRBO site. Tried and true Internet shopping rules apply to VRBO: do your research, shop around, and find out what guarantees are in place.

(Photo: jedavillabali)

{ 23 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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23 Responses to “ Review”

  1. Chris says:

    VBRO —> VRBO

    Note of correction suggested to the editor.

    Thank You,

    That is all.

  2. philip says:

    It is not abbreviation for Vacation Rentals By Owner.

    I have used the site for several trips now, it has been pretty useful and recommend using it particularly if you are looking for a group to go find a place together.

  3. Kris says:

    I’ve used it in the past, but lately I’ve used, they seem to have a bigger selection, but that’s just my preference.

  4. Diane says:

    I have been able to rent on VRBO, but only after submitting many inquiries with no response. Thank goodness I am tenacious. Many owners do not update their calendars so your inquiries are wasted and/or owners simply do not respond in popular locations. I would rate it a 3 out of 5.

  5. Miranda says:

    Thanks for the corrections. Sometimes we get things switched up, and our own eyes don’t see the problem!

  6. Debra says:

    I’m in the process of arranging accomodations in Maui using VRBO & think it’s an excellent site. I have finalized the rental of one cottage for a couple of nights and am working on a second. I did share Diane’s experience in that I sent messages to many owners who did not respond, but the site allows you to save your message & send it over and over to multiple owners, so at least you only have to type it once. I just decided initially that I would use the shotgun approach, sending many inquiries, and assumed the ones I didn’t hear back on were unavailable for my dates. I also had a technical problem today which the VRBO tech staff quickly resolved for me. I also got input from one of the Maui owners that they’re very happy with VRBO, which he said has saved them many thousands of dollars in commissions. I’ll check out for the rest of my itinerary. Thanks much.

  7. Jim says:

    It sounds like VRBO is kind of a crapshoot.

  8. Debra says:

    One thing to add to my comment above: the VRBO system does not allow for sorting by price, which all the similar sites I visited do. Since most people have to work within a budget in travel planning and don’t want to have to sort through a lot of places they can’t afford, adding this feature would be a huge improvement. I have now experienced, which is also an offshoot of homeaway, and find it superior to VRBO simply because it allows for sorting by price.

  9. Judith says:

    I used VRBO once w. just okay results. No problems with payment but the place was less charming than we expected. Get pix and ask lots of questions by phone… Email will not let you hear the hesitation in the owner’s voice as he prepares to stretch the truth.

  10. I kind of disagree with some of the posters above. I have had really good luck with VRBO in the past 3 years booking trips to Tahoe for NYE 2 years in a row, a weekend in Santa Barbara and a week in Maui.

    That being said, VRBO’s search options are pretty lame. When searching for a property, I input my dates and the area I’m looking in. Then I will send a quick email with what I’m looking for to 50-100 listings. VRBO’s site will autofill the information after your first submission so all you have to do is open the window in a new tab and hit submit. This shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes.

    That way I can quickly filter the places that are available and in my price range from the e-mail responses I get then go and look at them. Very simple process.

  11. VRBOs are great for people looking for the “local” style of living in Hawaii. We actually rented a house on Maui when we went there for a week of soccer one year, and it was very pleasant. The owner of the house was also there in a smaller room, but she really stayed out of our way, and we asked her to join us for some meals and became good friends with her.

    This was a bonus because we now have a place that we know well enough to stay at again, if and when we do decide to rent in Maui again, and we are on a first name and dining together basis.

    For our own immediate neighborhood though, I don’t like it. Hawaii has short term rental permits that the State stopped issuing about 20 or so years ago, yet some developers are building huge houses nearby, and illegally renting them out short term with VRBO. It’s a good way to make money but when the system is abused, it is an eyesore and infringes upon local neighbors who have to deal with excess cars and traffic in an otherwise quiet neighborhood.

  12. Laura says:

    We have used VRBO many times over the years and had good luck. Just like anything, you have to do your research! We always travel with our 2 dogs and finding pet friendly places can be hard. There is a pet filter on VRBO and that usually knocks out 2/3 of rental properties for us. Overall, using VRBO is far superior to staying in a hotel or condo.

  13. Shirley says:

    My husband and I have used VRBO twice and we have been very satisfied.
    Also, we were familiar with the area in Ft Myers and the gated communities in which we rented, which is a plus. We were very much satisfied.

  14. NoCleverName says:

    I’ve used the site on several occasions and had good experiences. I would recommend it.

  15. Grace says:

    I used VRBO once for a trip to Oahu. The owners we did contact were very responsive. I would definitely use it again. We saved a lot on housing!

  16. John says:

    I have been able to rent on VRBO, but only after submitting many inquiries with no response. I use vacation rental often during summer but I am not that good on planning and I have always tough time to book a place within a week from VRBO. Biggest challenge is offline communication, calendar out of synch, faxing documents..
    Recently I have used a site . They have given experience like hotel booking. Surprisingly, I have booked my vacation home for Memorial day just 1 day before my check-in day. I have also booked the place much below the listing price by using Name your own price option. I am really happy.

  17. Mark says:

    I have had 4 excellent experiences with and no negative experiences. I like to take last minute trips to nearby destinations. I have found that many property owners subscribe to the “some money is better than no money” philosophy and are willing to give steep discounts on open dates if they are booked at the last minute. I have saved several hundred dollars on bookings by asking for last minute discounts.

  18. kevincohr says:

    VRBO is definitely one of the leaders in the vacation rentals industry. Because it has been around for a long time, you tend to find a lot of owners who have been renting for a long time.

    However, at the end of the day, each property is owned and managed independently of VRBO and so it’s really up to you to do as much up front vetting in order not to be dissappointed.

    Although there is some controversy about the use of reviews, I would tend to go for properties that have a lot of (mostly positive) reviews

    • Joshua says:

      There was a comment above that mentioned

      I happen to know that Zaranga only has professionally managed properties. They don’t let average single property owners on the site so I would imagine that makes the vetting process much less painful, also is nice to deal with a management company that is in the area then some homeowner who might live hours away from your rental, what if the hot water goes out, who fixes it?

      And one last thing. By dealing with property managers and not home owners is almost impossible to get scammed.

  19. Glenn says:

    I used VRBO to rent a home in California a few months ago. The description turned out to be very misleading, important appliances (furnace, oven) were not working, and the landlord withheld all of our deposit, falsely claiming we’d done damage. What you need to know is VRBO cooperates more with owners than with renters because owners pay the VRBO bill. So, renter beware, beware, beware.

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