One 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 VRBO.com  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 VRBO.com?
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 )