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How to Book a Great Vacation Rental on VRBO

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When my wife and I travel we rarely stay in hotels anymore. When we learned about VRBO about a decade ago, it became our preferred way to find and book our vacation rentals. So what is VRBO anyway?

VRBO, aka Vacation Rentals By Owner, allows homeowners to list and rent their homes through their website. It was founded in 1995, many years before competitor Airbnb. You can rent a home just about anywhere in the world. Accommodations range from Treehouses in the jungle, ranches in Montana, and penthouses in New York or Chicago. There’s really no limit to the variety of options you’ll find when booking a vacation rental through this company.

The first time we used VRBO was in 2002. We rented an incredible home on a beach in Akumal, Mexico. The house had 4 bedrooms so it was perfect for our family. It had a pool that was right on the beach, a rooftop deck that was amazing for stargazing and it included a housekeeper/cook who was with us every day. Plus they included a security guard who made sure we didn’t get unwelcome visitors overnight.

Since then, we almost exclusively book our vacations through VRBO. Here are a few reasons we prefer this option over hotels.

More Space

It’s one thing if we’re looking for a place to stay when we travel to visit friends or family in another city, but when we’re on vacation we love to spread out a bit. Hotel rooms are typically small, made up of a bedroom area and a bathroom. Renting a “home” through VRBO gives us a nice living room and kitchen and that gives us options for meals and just hanging out.

A Local Experience


We love vacationing in Spain. We especially love Madrid and Barcellona. When we started taking trips to Spain we stayed exclusively in hotels but once we discovered VRBO we switched over permanently. The biggest reason for this is that when we stayed in a hotel we felt like we could be anywhere. We’d basically “leave” the city we were visiting at the end of the day and retreat to something that usually lacked local character. When we stay in a home, even in the same area, we don’t lose that local feel that we came for in the first place. We don’t exactly live like a local when we stay in a home rented through VRBO it feels a lot more authentic 24/7.


We generally find that we pay less when we rent a home compared to what we’d pay for a nice hotel. Booking a property through VRBO is similar to finding and booking a hotel on a website like Expedia. That makes a lot of sense once you discover that VRBO is owned by Expedia! Expedia acquired the business in 2015.

Variety of Options

As I stated earlier, VRBO allows property owners to list their homes on their website regardless of the type of property. Are you interested in staying in an old Airstream mobile home? You’ll find those on VRBO. Interested in staying in an over-water bungalow in the Caribbean? You’ll find those too! We typically rent condos on the beach and there’s no lack of choices in that category. The point is that just about anything you’re looking for can be found on VRBO. And by the way, if you travel with a pet, you’ll find lots of properties that are happy for you to bring him/her along.


If you’re looking for something a little different for your next vacation, something that gives you more flexibility and options over a common hotel, VRBO is definitely something for you to consider. Take a look at the website. Search for properties available in the area where you’ll be traveling and be sure to include dates so you only see properties that are actually available. You just might find some options that you’ve never considered before!