Vacation Rentals : Good or Bad?

I recently had a person contact me regarding helping plan a vacation to Italy. Before wanting to work with me in planning this trip with them they had one question…”Do you book Air BnB? We want the Authentic Italian Vacation feel and we feel that staying at AirBnB places will do that for us.” 

Year after year, more and more vacation requests come in asking us if we book vacation rentals, specifically AirBnB. Even though there are many vacation rental sites, AirBnB has become synonymous with vacation rentals. With this request however, I was a bit unsure why it wouldn’t be authentic to stay in a hotel? After all, how can you get more of an authentic Italian experience then by staying in Italy itself.

I am going to be openly honest right now with spoiler alerts about vacation rentals. If you don’t want to know these spoilers because you like vacation rentals, then I recommend closing this email right now. If you are interested in finding out the truth, then let’s get started. There are many vacation rental sites out there just like AirBnB that you can book your stay for your upcoming vacation. It seems like a great deal that you can stay in a 2-bedroom apartment in New York city overlooking Time Square for $100 a night or rent out an entire Tuscan Villa for a week for just $800! 

I remember when I was little my mother always told me that if it sounded too good to be true it probably was too good to be true. Many times, these amazing deals that you find aren’t as they are advertised or marketed. Yes, you get the 2-bedroom apartment overlooking Time Square but the rooms are the size of a bathroom and over-looking means turn your head all the way to the left to see Time Square. Maybe the Tuscan Villa you rented doesn’t look like anyone has lived it in for 15 years and the beds are even older than that. If this is the type of authentic experience that you are looking for, then you won’t be disappointed. 

With so many vacation rental sites on the internet, many people will put their house, apartment, or villa up for you to rent. They go up so fast that my one concern is who is vetting these people or even going to the places. The worse part is that you won’t know for sure until you actually get to the destination if the place is going to work for you. Unfortunately, the amount of vacation rentals that go up a day is more than the company can actually verify. The best way to know if the place that you are renting is what they say it is, is by checking the verifications of the person who is renting. When someone stays at a person’s rental property they then can review the person and property on the vacation rental site. This helps give you a better understanding of who is actually legitimate and good to rent from for your stay. 

Once you have verified who you want to stay with, it is a matter of seeing availability and pricing. If the place is available then it is time to book it. This is where you need to read the fine print. Last year a friend of mine decided to rent a house at one of the Delaware beaches through one of these vacation rental sites. She picked her house, booked it, and was billed an extra $300 that was not part of the booking process. This additional $300 was “hidden fees.”  I would say they were more than “hidden,” they were really non-existent until she got her credit card statement. However, if you read the fine print it will tell you how much you will pay in additional fees to use these sites. 

Ok, now you have booked your stay and you have calmed down about the extra fees, there is still more fine print to read! Yes, there is so much paperwork involved when booking a vacation rental. Don’t forget to read what is actually included in the rental. Is Free Wi-Fi included, a cleaning fee, use of the pool if the property has one, use of anything else that the property may have you thought you could use, what time you need to be there to get the keys, and the list goes on and on. 

One of the main things in Europe when staying at a vacation rental is making sure that you are there at the exact time stated you need to be there to get the keys. The owner will only wait for a few minutes and then be gone leaving you with no place to stay for the night. Yes, this is a big compliant from vacation rental people. Many people just assume like a hotel the owner will be available for check-in when they are available to get there. This isn’t the case, so make sure to read the fine print as to what time you need to be there. 

Now that you have a bit more understanding of how vacation rentals work, and going back to my original request to book an AirBnb, Life is Better Traveling does book vacation rentals with our reputable suppliers. We do not specifically use AirBnb, which again, I know the name is synonymous with the term vacation rental. What we do for our clients however is also look to see if a nice hotel with breakfast included is cheaper than staying at a vacation rental. I have personally found for some of my clients that a 2-bedroom vacation rental is more expensive than staying at a hotel in town with breakfast included. You then also get all the amenities that a hotel provides including a check-in desk to check-in at your own convenience, a concierge, a place to store your luggage until you check-in or check-out, spa services, a gym, laundry, and the list goes on. 

If you are thinking you want to do some type of vacation rental either in Europe, the Caribbean, or here in the states make sure to contact one of our travel agents to help you find a great place with a reputable supplier. 

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