You’ve booked your flights, you’ve got a rough itinerary together, and all that’s left is to figure out where you will call home for the duration of your trip. Some may call this the easy part, but with so many options out there, choosing your accommodations can be a stressful task.
There are an estimated 1.3 million vacation rental listings in the United States alone, according to recent findings from Ruby Home. Thanks to sites like VRBO and Airbnb, these listings can be found everywhere from mountaintops to coastlines, and from big cities to rural towns.
Things to Consider When Picking Where to Stay
Between hotels and vacation rentals, travelers have more choices than ever before. If you’re in the process of determining if a vacation rental is right for you, Squaremouth suggests considering the following factors.
Hotels or Vacation Rentals: Which is More Expensive?
While the perception with vacation rentals is that they were cheaper in comparison to hotels, a U.K. based consumer website, Which?, recently uncovered that this may not be the case anymore. The company compared the cost of thousands of hotel stays and 300,000 listings on Airbnb and Vrbo discovered that hotels were cheaper in roughly 75% of the 50 destinations they reviewed.
While the cost of vacation rentals may be higher, most listings offer ample space and higher occupancy limits than hotel rooms. If you’re traveling in a larger group, the cost could be cheaper than purchasing multiple hotel rooms.
What Type of Experience Do You Want?
Just one look at Architectural Digest’s list of the world’s most unique Airbnbs is all you need to realize that vacation rentals are able to offer unique stays that hotels typically can’t match. Often owned by locals, vacation rentals can provide a personal experience for travelers, with touches that can make the stay feel more like home.
On the other hand, hotels offer a much more familiar escape. Many travelers are brand loyal, and enjoy knowing exactly what to expect heading into a trip. The turn down service, room service, and valet parking can also be a welcomed perk for travelers looking for a relaxing stay.
Cancellation Policies: How Flexible Are Rentals?
Plans change, and cancellations are a major concern for many travelers heading into a trip. While hotels offer more standard and consistent cancellation policies, vacation rentals can be much harder to predict on the matter.
Airbnb, VRBO, and other vacation rental platforms will often let the listing manager decide what policy they wish to enact on their listing. While some may opt for extremely generous policies, others may establish a policy that gives travelers little to no flexibility.
One way vacation renters can protect themselves against strict cancellation policies is with travel insurance. Most single trip travel insurance policies feature cancellation coverage, which can reimburse travelers up to 100% of their booking costs should they need to cancel for a covered reason.
How Big is Your Group?
One of the key differences between vacation rentals and hotels is the size. Vacation rentals are typically larger than hotels, and come a wide-range of amenities that can be useful when traveling. A recent report by Airbnb stated that more than 90% of all listings come with a full kitchen, and more than 25% of listings include three or more bedrooms.
Travelers taking a trip with their family or friends often gravitate toward vacation rentals because they offer a shared space for all party members to enjoy. Many listings also include outdoor space, like a backyard or deck, for guests to enjoy.
Does Travel Insurance Cover Vacation Rentals?
Yes, travel insurance policies can offer coverage for vacation rentals. In our recent survey that polled more than 4,000 travel insurance customers, more than 20% were staying at a vacation rental during their trip.
In most cases, a travel insurance provider will cover a vacation rental the same way it would a hotel or other type of lodging. Travelers with an insurance policy may be eligible for reimbursement in the following scenarios:
- Last-minute cancellations by your host
- Cancellations due to you or someone in your group falling ill
- Your personal belongings being stolen from the rental property
- If you need to return home early for a covered reason
- If the Airbnb is or becomes uninhabitable
Squaremouth’s survey also found that half of travelers could be interested in damage insurance in the event that something gets broken during their stay. With that in mind, some providers are beginning to offer coverage for vacation rental damage, providing travelers with further financial protection.
Protecting Your Other Trip Investments
Your lodging might be your biggest expense when traveling, but it’s likely not your only expense. While some platforms, like Airbnb, offer their own trip protection products, they often fall short of the policies offered by third party insurance providers.
For a fee of 5-10% of your total trip cost, travelers can protect their trip from the unexpected. This includes unforeseen delays, medical emergencies, cancellations, and natural disasters. Some of the most important travel insurance benefits to consider include:
- Trip Cancellation: Helps recover up to 100% of a traveler’s nonrefundable trip costs if they are forced to cancel due to a covered emergency, such as an illness or injury.
- Trip Interruption: May cover the costs of returning home early for a covered reason. Most plans offer coverage between 100% and 150% of the insured trip cost.
- Emergency Medical: Travelers may be reimbursed for costs related to treatment overseas, such as hospital bills, x-rays, ambulance services, and lab costs.
- Medical Evacuation: Can cover the costs to transport a traveler to another medical facility or return home to receive treatment if deemed necessary by a treating physician.
- Travel Delay: May cover food and accommodation expenses throughout the duration, a significant delay that meets the policy’s minimum delay period, typically 3-12 hours.
- Missed Connection: Airline and railway delays can happen at any time, causing travelers to miss their connecting flights. Missed Connection coverage can help reimburse travelers the costs to catch up to their trip and make it to their destination.
- Baggage Delay: May help travelers pay for emergency replacement items, including clothes and personal items, if their bags are lost for an extended period of time.
- Cancel for Any Reason: Helps travelers recover a portion of their non-refundable costs if they decide not to go for most uncovered reasons.