Everything you need to know when booking with VRBO
I have booked 6 stays with VRBO so far and they have all been different. All of my stays have been amazing, but they have certainly been different.
- The method of payment will vary. We have seen it all from paying through the management companies app, sending a personal check to the owner, paying everything through VRBO, and even paying the management company when you arrive. Most of the ones we have used have required a refundable security deposit, but not all. Some have wanted a deposit with a portion paid at booking. Most have required full payment of the trip before check-in. One we have used will take payment the same day as check in.
- The properties are privately owned. VRBO is a booking service, Vacation Rentals By Owner, does not own the property. The properties are generally personally owned. Sometimes the owner manages the property and sometimes it is a management company. They aren’t necessarily all kept up to the same standards. Some may be in need of a new coat of paint while others look like something out of a magazine. This is all at the discretion of the owner, not VRBO.
- Your rental agreement will vary. Some places may allow pets, others will not. Check-in times will vary. As well as check-out instructions. I have been in some that require all bedding be stripped and a load going in the washing machine. Some require all dishes be washed or at least placed in the dishwasher and started. Some require all trash to be taken out and others don’t specify.
- VRBO is NOT a hotel. None of the rentals we have stayed in had daily housekeeping. You want new towels, you must wash them. You need more toilet paper you must buy it. So either pack the essentials or be prepared to buy them: toilet paper, laundry detergent, dish soap, shampoo, soap, paper towels, trash bags… Your rental may come with a small sampling of these things to get you started, but once that runs out you will need to replenish your supply.
- Check-in and check-out will be different. We stayed in a rental where the owner called to tell me the code. Some will email it to you and our next will give it to use when we check in with the on-site management company. Check-out may require that you call the housekeeping service, text the owner, or check-out with the app.
- Not all rentals are created the same. As I said before the rentals aren’t owned or operated by VRBO. They will be kept up to different standards. Make sure you read the reviews. Not just look at the overall rating. You may find that just last week someone mentions the A/C is out, and the owner response may be that they have placed a new unit. The owner may not respond, which I find a little alarming. I have found some amazing deals with great photos only to realize from the reviews that the porch is falling in, and every person that stays there mentions roaches. You may also find out that the place looks nothing like the photos and is actually nicer than it looks. READ THE REVIEWS.
- Requesting to book will vary. Some bookings take place only through VRBO, some I have had to talk with the owner on the phone (the rental is their home away from home, so they are very particular about their tenants). Most I begin booking through VRBO, then continue the booking outside VRBO, whether through email, apps, or even some snail mail.
All VRBOs are different. We have had some great trips that had no hiccups, some that have required a call to the management company (the batteries on our door lock died so we couldn’t get in). Some owners have texted to check on our trip. And even one that sent us photos the week before so we could see the beach that awaited us.
What have been your experiences with VRBO?