Vacation Rentals By Owner: Save Money While Traveling with Your Family

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My husband had a conference in Boston recently.  Since we had never been but always wanted to go, we decided to take the entire family–all 5 of us.  The conference would require that we be in Boston for 5 nights and days.  Expenses could easily add up, but we cut our expenses by using a vacation rental by owner.

What Is a Vacation Rental by Owner?

A vacation rental by owner (VRBO) is typically a condo, apartment, townhouse or house that is available to rent for a limited time period.  Our VRBO in Boston was a two bedroom garden apartment complete with amenities like cable television, wi-fi, and a dishwasher.  Even better, most VRBOs come fully equipped with a ready to use kitchen include pots, pans, plates, utensils, and a full size refrigerator and freezer.

How Much Can a VRBO Save?

The designated hotel room for the conference was $223 per night plus tax.  Our VRBO, which was big enough to comfortably accommodate our family of 5, was $189 per night plus tax.  We were in the heart of the North End, close to many tourists attractions, and we were saving $34 a night over the cost of staying in the hotel.

However, that wasn’t our biggest savings–cooking for ourselves was.

Taking a family of 5 out to eat for lunch and dinner when on vacation can be quite pricey.  Even if we picked modest restaurants, we’d likely be spending at least $80 a day on restaurant meals, likely more.  Over 5 days, that is $400.  Instead, we took a bit of extra time and packed our own food from home.

Our meals in Boston cost no more than buying groceries at home.  In fact, we never ate out the entire time we were in Boston.  That gave us more money to visit attractions, though we were fairly conservative with that, too.

Considering the difference in price between the hotel and the VRBO as well as being able to eat in, I estimate that we saved at least $570, if not more.  ($170 for the difference in accommodation and $400 for eating in.)

Drawbacks of VRBO

This is our second time staying in a VRBO, and for us, they work and save us quite a bit of money.

However, there are drawbacks.

Namely, you need to clean the place yourself.  There are no maids.  When we left our VRBO, we had to strip our beds and pile the sheets in the middle of the bed as well as clean the kitchen and wash all of the dishes.  If you’re in a hurry to leave the morning of your departure, this can be a bit of a hassle.

Second, this isn’t a hotel, so you’re largely on your own.  You can’t call the main desk and ask for more shampoo or extra towels.   While most VRBO managers are friendly and accommodating, you won’t get the kind of service that you expect in a hotel.

If you’re traveling with children and you’re looking to cut corners, staying in a VRBO may be just the ticket, especially if you’re willing to cook your own food rather than going out to eat.