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Vacation rentals with Airbnb or VRBO

Beachfront villa, downtown condo, castle, tree house, yacht?

Don’t you love when your vacation bucket has available days in it and you have some spare funds socked aside to go somewhere fun? Maybe a warm beach destination in the cold of winter or a southern cruise, maybe a Mediterranean hotspot you’ve always wanted to visit or some intriguing destination on your bucket list … hmmm, decision-time! So many places to explore.

maybe just steps from Edinburgh Castle (click any pic to enlarge)Now that you’ve made the first difficult step of what city or country you want to visit, the next big decision is for accommodations – where to stay, how close to the tourist sights, how much per night, on and off-season availability, on or off the beaten path?

And you thought choosing where to go on vacation was a difficult choice?

What’s your accommodation style preference?

There’s a few decisions to make understanding how you like to travel and the experience options these offer.

Hotels – Within a major city selection of hotels is pretty wide, sometimes too wide! Hotels offer that corporate, modern, sterile, simple bed and bathroom experience (a few hundred sq ft) at a broad range of prices depending on level of service, amenities and time of year. Meals are in their host restaurant or off-site “on the town”. Hotels are generally in the center of the action and offer the bustle of the host town within steps.

our apartment flat rented in Edinburgh, UKVacation rentals like Airbnb and VRBO – whether city, rural or beachside, vacation rentals offer an entire self-sufficient home or a room within a home (many hundred sq ft to spread out). These rentals offer character – that of the owner’s design, with many amenities like bed and bathroom as well as stocked kitchen, porch/patio, a driveway – and sometimes extras like pools, hot tubs, fire pits, laundry and BBQ’s. Meals are not included but you have money-saving flexibility to eat in the way you like or out “on the town”. Vacation rentals can be beachside, a condo in the middle of town, or in the quieter suburbs closer to the out-of-town activities.

Expectations and reality – Many people are uncomfortable with staying at a home-sharing rental for the sake that it’s someone’s home or property you’re staying at.

  • No different from the fact that someone slept in your bed and bathed in your shower last night in your hotel room and the room was cleaned, the same applies to Airbnb and VRBO.
  • Hotels are usually right in the thick of things – downtown or near an airport, whereas the home share options are suburban (sometimes downtown), rural (maybe beachside or mountainside) often not in the thick of activity.
  • With Airbnb and VRBO though you get a whole house or condo with rich amenities versus a simple bed and bathroom in a hotel – different style of accommodations.

In picturing your host city and how you want to experience the city, does a hotel or vacation rental better fit your accommodation preferences?

Click if you want the perfect beach house for your vacation?

Understanding the differences between AirBNB and VRBO

If your choosing was for a vacation-rental style of vacationing, the two dominant players on the market worldwide are Airbnb and VRBO with smaller regional vacation rental players in various destinations. Their goal is to link renting homeowners to prospective consumers. These two platforms are generally very similar in style and methodology to search and book with some small differences. Generally, the side for the host owner and the criteria and costs are a differentiator (see link below for more owner details).


  • unique places to rent aside from the standardFormed 2008 as the sharing services began to emerge.
  • Millions (over 4 million and growing) of listings from rooms to homes, condo’s, tree houses, castles, overnight at the Louvre and other unique rental properties
  • Book experiences (yoga classes, some adventure excursions) and local restaurant bookings through Airbnb
  • Both charge added cleaning and/or service fees to cover the cleaning logistics
  • Choose if you like flexibility of options, and the extensive network of locations

VRBO (also Vacation Rental by Owner)

  • Formed in 1995, joined the HomeAway Network in 2006
  • Lists only entire vacation properties (houses, condo’s and apartments) with over 2 million properties
  • Very robust filters to help narrow your search effectively (like specifically only a yacht or beachfront or near a golf course).
  • Both charge added cleaning and/or service fees to cover the cleaning logistics
  • Choose if you like a complete rental solution with a whole-house rental.

Success tips to make booking your vacation rental a WIN!

  • Use the filters to your advantage in the types of options you want to consider in location and amenities.
  • Scale the slider for price range (Note: simply a $25 increase in the amount may make a world of difference for those added amenities or location) and note the stated currency – USD, CAD, Euro.
  • apartment up in the canopy - Anastasia Beach Zoom in and out with the map feature as you’ve narrowed your search parameters for other options around where you’re looking.
  • We recommend you search by both Airbnb and VRBO at the same time.
  • Clearly review the amenities to make sure you know what supplied and what’s not.
  • Check through the photos for a better perspective on the accommodations.
  • Read the reviews and host responses carefully. “Super hosts” are frequent renters that have an excellent rental rating. How many reviews are there? How were the comments handled by the host?
  • Review the cancellation policies and general house policies.
  • Often you will find home sharing rates cheaper than hotels – even when you factor in the cleaning and service fees with much richer amenities and space to spread out.
  • Save your favorites to your Trip Boards to go back and review as you narrow your final selections.
  • Upon booking, half the funds are generally paid up front and the other half within a span (generally a few weeks) before arriving.
  • Leave a review after you leave … it builds the rental properties profile. Note that the hosts also rate you too (behind the scenes for other renters) in how you act and leave the property.

GoGirlfriend vacation rental success examples

When we travel, we like to be adventurous. Business travel generally keeps us to the conference venues and hotels near the meeting point, but when we’re on the road, we like our independence and have enjoyed the character rental properties offer. Here’s a few of our rental stories:

an entire schoolhouse to rentGrey Highlands Schoolhouse Retreat (Airbnb) – a winter long weekend for our extended family of 10 in a converted country school house. What a fantastic character property with 5 bedrooms and an open concept living/dining area with wall to wall chalkboard that saw endless Pictionary (it WAS an century old schoolhouse!). We added some skiing at Blue Mountain Resort and a snowshoe Winter Waterfall & Wine Tour. Memories made!

Edinburgh Apartment rental (VRBO) – an apartment steps from Edinburgh Castle just off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, UK. Our base for 3 days exploring Edinburgh before hitting the Scottish countryside with hiking, castles and a sampling of Scotland we’ll never forget.

Anastasia Island Tropical Treehouse (Airbnb) – visiting St. Augustine’s historic district, it’s great restaurants and St. Augustine’s glorious beaches, we stayed at the Anastasia Island Tropical Treehouse. A house into the canopy of trees with all the amenities needed and a large front porch for relaxing allowed us a great base for our exploring.

And other places stayed or upcoming:

New to renting on Airbnb – here’s a special discount to begin!

Begin with this Airbnb Referral link to begin and sign up for an account … or click the Airbnb image below.

       click for your special discount

Want to HOST your property on Airbnb?

Curious about using your property for some extra income, here's for the Host Airbnb Referral link.

a patio to enjoy the desert sunsetIf you have a property and are considering listing your space as a vacation rental on either Airbnb or VRBO, here’s some insights from Evolve Vacation Rentals comparing the listing options.

This emergence of sharing services – home-sharing like Airbnb and VRBO and ride-sharing services like Uber and LYFT have shifted the “hotel-only” options and limits to your-imaginations-your-only-limitation on options of how and where you’d like to stay on future vacations. With fun options like yachts, castles, downtown condo’s to beachside villas you can experience a destination on your own terms.

Note: This post contains affiliate links with our partners. All reviews are our own and the commentary and perspectives are those of GoGirlfriend.

Have you stayed at a fun Airbnb, VRBO or rental property in a great location or with great amenities? Drop a comment below and connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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