Have You Heard of VRBO and HomeAway?

Going on vacation but not looking forward to a cramped hotel room? Try VRBO and HomeAway. These companies are being recognized by the media more and more these days! Here’s an article on CNN.com’s travel page.

{They don’t look up properties for you or take any part in the reservation process. They are simply a venue for advertising for individual property owners and managers. Searching is the traveler’s job and booking is strictly between traveler and advertiser. This is stated in the Terms & Conditions that hardly anyone reads.}

Here is a snippet from Travel & Leisure Magazine:

And here is a snippet from Sunset Magazine:

If you’re a little hesitant about the whole idea of renting someone’s house instead of staying in a cramped hotel room, read this. You may have to do a little more homework before jumping into a rental agreement (and I suggest that you do), but it’s well worth the effort.

Going on vacation isn’t always about seeing how many activities you can do and how many sites you can see in a short period of time. It can also be about relaxing and experiencing life as you might if you didn’t have to work. There are homes around the world to fit any budget on these sites. There are even houseboats and yachts! Check it out if you haven’t already.

  • Edited on 6/3/11. Everything in this post is, without question, already public information. Not being snarky – just standing on principle. :)

“Where do you work?” “What do you do?”

When I tell people I work from home, the first thing that comes to their mind is that I do transcription. Nope. I work for VRBO® – Vacation Rentals by Owner. The next thought is that I book vacation rentals for travelers. Nope. VRBO is a venue for advertising for individual property owners and for property managers on their behalf and is not involved in the reservation process. All communication regarding rental properties is done directly between the traveler and the advertiser. There is a physical office in Denver that we use for meetings and training, but the bulk of my work is done in my own home. They’ve supplied a laptop, a second monitor, and a phone. I save on wardrobe, gas, and vehicle wear & tear. They save on overhead since they don’t have the high rent of an office space large enough to accommodate all of us.

There’s also our “home office” in Austin, TX. That’s the HomeAway® headquarters, which is our parent company. You’ll see a commercial for the company during the Super Bowl! You might remember the Griswold vacation commercial from last year’s Super Bowl. That’s us! There’s another U.S. brand under HomeAway, and that’s VacationRentals.com. It doesn’t stop there, though! No! We’re worldwide:

So what exactly do I do here? Well, I can’t really tell you everything I do now that I’m in the Trust & Security department. Yes, it’s that important! :D I love it, too! So I’ve really only answered the first question in the title of this post. You’ll have to live with that. Just know that I’m not doing transcription and I’m not making sales calls all day. Sales … BAH! Not my forté! Couldn’t do it.

Natchez, MS | Charming Vacation Rentals Across America

Down to Mississippi now, and I immediately thought of Natchez! So how could I not choose this beautiful yet still charming 3BR house with a pool? If you’ve not heard of Natchez, MS, just check out this page of images from Natchez. I would love to go here!

This listing does say that it’s not suitable for children, and since the pool slide is blocked, I’m thinking the owners are trying to keep this a quiet and peaceful place. I can respect that. I imagine the owner prefers people who are neat and mindful about cleaning up after themselves immediately, too. I can handle that!

The listing, photos, and location all speak for themselves. Natchez is on my bucket list!

Tuscumbia, AL | Charming Vacation Rentals Across America

Kitchens are a selling point, it’s true – even when looking for a vacation rental home. I’m not sure why a kitchen is a gathering place, but it really does happen! This one is incredibly charming without looking 50 years old.

It sounds like you have to be pretty careful around the bluff according to the tragic story they chose to tell in the description for this vacation rental (not something I would have added). So this 1 bedroom with attached unit home is probably not the place to take your small kids. Under “Suitability” it even says “Children MUST be supervised at all times.”

I found a few more pictures by following the link on this listing, and I think a lot of my time would be spent poolside! Also eye-catching to me, of course, were the colorful Adirondack chairs, the landscaping, and the water view … all lending to some great photo ops!

Eddyville, KY & Pigeon Forge, TN | Charming Vacation Rentals Across America

The blogs must go on … even when I’m on holiday! They will certainly be brief, though. This rental in Eddyville, Kentucky screams “Contrast!” This one melted my heart with both exterior and interior photos. There’s nothing bland about this one!

Beautifully decorated, this 4 bedroom house (left) with wrap-around porch overlooks Lake Barlkey. Perfect for staying in or sitting outside.

Not wasting any time, this 1 bedroom cabin (right) in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee looks FABULOUS! Indeed, there is WiFi, folks! There’s also a pool table and a hot tub as well as a shared pool.

For photo ops, there’s a cute wedding chapel on site!

Lake Placid, NY | Charming Vacation Rentals Across America

When you hear New York mentioned, your thoughts probably go immediately to New York City (i.e., busy, crowded, and full of rude & rushed people). Actually, NYC only takes up a small portion of the state that is over 47,000 square miles of beauty.

Here is a lovely little cottage in Lake Placid, New York that didn’t take me long to find at all, surprisingly! I used Google to search the exact keywords I was looking for this time. And what’s that?! This home has broadband internet connection! <cut to me doing a happy dance>

Newbury, NH | Charming Vacation Rentals Across America

Again … contrast! As much as I close listings with white walls and bland decor, I also close listings with dark wood paneling. This is the exception. The light wood accented by contrasting furniture really catches my eye.

This home in Newbury, New Hampshire has 3 bedrooms plus a bunk area and sleeps 10. If you must (and I must), you can surf the interweb via WiFi broadband internet, or you can relax on the deck enjoying water views. Why stop there? Meander down to the private dock and cast a line.

Not that I’m advertising for VRBO.com, but I have to say that I haven’t found anything yet on other vacation rental ad sites that isn’t also listed on VRBO. It truly is the largest and, evidently, most popular vacation rental website out there. They even offer this great information that all travelers should read before even browsing through listings. Please do search other sites, though! You never know where you’ll find that hidden gem. For me, personally, I have had great success on VRBO’s site. I’ve even rented three houses advertised there already!

Annapolis, MD | Charming Vacation Rentals Across America

This one was very hard to find, and I’m feeling the pain felt by other travelers trying to search VRBO.com for rentals. The search feature was changed earlier this year so that the results would bring the viewer to the same index pages where you may further break down your sort by number of bedrooms, how many the property sleeps, photos (default), and also by availability. That’s great! However, now it’s not a free text search. It searches first by destination and then by amenities, such as property type (house, cottage, condo, etc.), and anything else that may be listed under the Features & Amenities section of the listing. It will not find random words in the headlines or descriptions.

I tried using Google to search free text. For example: “VRBO, Maryland, 2BR, cottage, historic, charming” and then clicking on “More results from VRBO.com”. That worked fairly well, but it was cumbersome. Today I thought of something different that helped as far as searching headlines at least. I made a very broad search for just “Maryland, 2BR” in the Search by Destination/Amenities field on VRBO.com. The results were numerous, which was exactly what I wanted for my next step… F3 (CTRL + F)! I told my computer to find “historic” among these results.  BAM! There it was.

This 2BR/1BA has a lot of white inside, but it’s pulled together enough to keep it’s charm. This search was extremely difficult because so many houses were very white and downright bare inside. Even houses that had beautiful curb appeal were just blah inside. Between the white walls and the early 80s or grandma decor, oh man! I was just not impressed with the listings I was finding in Maryland, and that really surprised me. Once I clicked on this listing, I knew I found the perfect fit for me!

Mountain Getaway | Day 2

After eating dinner at Village Pizza, we drove up to the Stanley Hotel (my newest obsession).  I took some pictures, and we made a reservation for a ghost tour at 10:40 this morning.  Ali didn’t bring her hoodie and was getting chilly, so we didn’t hang out much longer.  I did turn to drive through town before heading back to the house, but I made a loop around the park instead because there were several elks grazing and passing on through.  Again, I wish I could share photos here, but not only do I not have my card reader, my own laptop won’t connect to the WiFi here.  The funniest part was that they all crossed at the crosswalk to make their way back into the woods!

Miranda had planned on sleeping in a separate room with a king-size bed, but I guess she chickened out.  She ended up taking the bottom bunk in the room Ali had already claimed a king-size bed of her own.  That room happens to be right above the master with a creaky floor.  I could hear mumbling and their TV a bit.  The joys of sleeping in a strange house.  However, the incredible comfort of the bed with pretty luxurious bedding quickly put me to sleep anyway!  No saggy, roll-ya-to-the-middle mattresses and flat hotel pillows here!  The beds are high, but they have little wooden step stools for convenience.

I talked to one of the owners on the phone last night, and he was very friendly and helpful.  I can’t plug directly into the router because it’s behind the locked basement door.  There’s also a pool table down there I noticed from outside!  I wish we could use that, but it wasn’t advertised in their VRBO listing, so I wasn’t expecting it.

I must talk about the master bath before we head out.  I hope to be able to soak in that clawfoot tub tonight by candlelight!  The shower is nice, but it’s surrounded by clear glass.  The windows don’t have blinds either!  There’s nothing but forest out there, but if you have a lot of people here, you better be sure you tell them not to go on that side of the house while you’re showering! <gasp>  This is a little outside of my comfort zone.  I won’t take a shower at night, and I’ll be careful about getting in that tub at night, too!  I know you can’t really see in windows during the day at least.