In the days before we were parents, my husband and I were happy staying anywhere with a clean bed and private shower. But now that we have kids, everything is more complicated, especially choosing lodging.
There’s still nothing wrong with a nice hotel room for a day or two, or if you’re moving places every couple of days. But if we’re vacationing in one spot for an extended stay, we’ve typically relied on renting a property through VRBO.com.
The “vacation rental by owner” site—owned by HomeAway since 2007—has been our go-to since 2008, when we became parents of two kids who suddenly required more “stuff” than a traditional hotel room could accommodate. And with more than 1 million rentals in 190 countries, VRBO.com offers families plenty of options. Here are five reasons VRBO rentals are ideal for family vacations.
1. Value—The average vacation rental managed under HomeAway, including VRBO, offers about twice the space at half the cost of a hotel room, or roughly $217/night. For a family of four, that translates into lots of extra room for us to spread out and more walls to separate my two energetic boys, who are especially prone to fighting when contained in a single hotel room.
2. Home Conveniences—Nothing makes me more giddy on a family vacation than access to a washer and dryer. True, it’s also great to have the conveniences of a kitchen to make quick breakfasts before heading out for the day’s activities. But the ability to return home with already-clean laundry for four people is, for me, positively dreamy.
3. Amenities—What do most kids care about when you travel? The pool! And we’ve had great experiences with VRBO properties’ pools and workout facilities, at no extra cost. Oftentimes, too, renting a person’s home means benefitting from the homeowner’s local memberships, like gaining entry for two at Monterey Bay Aquarium last summer during our visit to the area.
4. Reliable Reviews—One of the biggest factors in deciding on a property is the renters’ reviews, which I’ve found to be nothing but trustworthy. For that very reason, I make sure to review our rental experience candidly, especially the exceptional ones, so others can benefit as well from my feedback. (See two favorite properties below.)
5. App—The new HomeAway app combines efforts of travel-industry partners to create a “digital concierge,” allowing travelers to request Uber rides, discover local activities and restaurants via Gogobot, or order groceries through Instacart. The app also allows easy communication between travelers and property owners about details such as door-lock codes and Wi-Fi passwords.
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Two of our favorite past rentals:
1. Cimarron Townhomes—Steamboat Springs, Colo. (No specific VRBO number) For several years in a row, we visited this popular, ski-resort town with two to three other families with young children. And in most of those years, we rented varying units here because of the configuration—five bedrooms scattered among three floors, a recreation area and large kitchen/dining—an ideal set-up for families with varying ages of kids and bedtimes. And in addition to its centrally located pool right next to a small but functional workout room, it was near the ski area, offering easy access to shops, restaurants and activities.
2. Casa Coral—Key West, Fla. (VRBO Listing #499539) We loved staying in this property, not only because it was located in a gated community with a hotel-quality pool but also because of its comfortable, updated décor and its responsive owner, Judy. It felt like my mom had prepared the home for us, stocking bedroom closets with beach towels, sun hats, baseball caps and canvas bags for the beach, as well as the kitchen with go-to-size condiments and creamers so we didn’t have to buy our own. She also posted in the kitchen a list of local restaurant favorites and other relevant information that made it feel to us like she thought of everything. Finally, even though it was located about on Stock Island, about 4 miles from the main tourist area, waterfront/Duval St./Mallory Square area, it was no trouble for us to drive to “town.” And as a family, it was better for us to stay in a quieter, suburban area. We would absolutely stay there again!
Momfari note: This is a sponsored post paid for by VRBO/HomeAway. However, I only write sponsored posts about companies/products I use and trust, so the information is honest and forthright.