How to Find the Perfect Apartment for Vacation Rentals

Last Updated: 4/16/24 | April 16th, 2024 I used to hate renting apartments from websites like Airbnb or VRBO. As a solo traveler, I preferred the social atmosphere of hostels. You got to meet people, they ran activities, hosted events, and were where you were “supposed to stay” as a backpacker. When I did want something other than a hostel, I used a hospitality network liked Couchsurfing or simply stayed with friends. But, after a decade of life as a nomad, there are times when I like my privacy (and sometimes I also need extra space for work). While I may not use apartment rentals all the time, I stay in them often. I’ve found that they provide good value (especially if you’re traveling with multiple people), privacy, space, and a great home-like environment. While Airbnb does contribute to overtourism, there are still lots of great hosts on the platform who provide budget-friendly accommodation to travelers looking for an alternative to hostels that won’t break the bank. After using apartment rentals regularly for years, I wanted to create a detailed guide about how they work, how to pick the perfect apartment, and how to not get cheated. Table of Contents   How Do Apartment Rentals Work? Apartment rental sites allow locals to rent out an individual room, shared space (such as a couch in a living room), or entire home/apartment. The host lists their place online, posts photos, writes a description, hits publish, and, presto, they can start to make extra money with the unused space. The booking process is like booking any other type of accommodation online. You search the database, find a place you like, create an account, and request a booking. When the owner accepts, you are sent a confirmation. Additionally, many websites allow owners to list their place with an instant booking option, which means you don’t even have to wait for the owner to reply. You’re instantly booked in your accommodation (similar to when you book a hotel). You’ll also be able to read reviews about the host and the apartment and see exactly what amenities are included. For example, you can see if there is a kitchen (so you can cook your own meals to save money) or if there are restrictions on noise, smoking, and pets. Maybe you need access to a washer and dryer or fast Wi-Fi. You can find all of that out in the host’s profile (or in the reviews). Most accommodation rental sites also include a map so you can see where you’ll be located. That way, you can pick an apartment close to the attractions you want to visit, or, choose one further afield so you can have a quieter stay and get a feel for local life beyond the tourist crowds. Who is this for?Apartment rentals represent the space between hostels and hotels. If you are traveling on business and want the comforts of home, you probably aren’t going to stay in a hostel. But hotels may be too expensive or too impersonal for you. A rented apartment is a perfect compromise. Or maybe, like me, you love the hostel scene but occasionally need more space and privacy. An apartment rental will be a lot quieter and more relaxing than a hostel since you won’t need to be around as many people (or as much noise). You’ll also be able to cook your own food, helping keep costs down on your trip. Traveling with friends or a big group? This is definitely the option for you. Squeezing a bunch of people into a rental home/apartment will be much cheaper per person than a room in a hostel or hotel. Plus, you get space to spread out and relax. Dorm rooms and cramped hotels don’t give you a lot of “me” time. Moreover, Airbnb has a new feature called “Rooms” which lets you search for listings in people’s homes or guest houses. It’s like how Airbnb used to be — people renting out extra rooms or guest houses for added cash. You always get your own room and, sometimes, a private entrance. You’ll also get to interact with your host, who can provide lots of insider tips and insight to your destination. I’ve used Rooms a lot in the last couple of years — in LA, Rome, Paris, Nice — and, to me, as a solo traveler, it’s a much better way to travel. I highly recommend doing this as a way to combat the negative effects of these platforms (more on that below). How to Pick the Right Airbnb Unfortunately, as accommodation rentals have exploded into the mainstream, it’s become harder and harder to find great hosts. A lot of hosts now own multiple properties and live elsewhere. That means you often deal with property managers and never get to interact with the actual owner. Additionally, a lot of apartments aren’t quite as nice in reality as they appear in the photos (my team had to get a refund on an apartment in Boston because it was dirty and falling apart). In order to find suitable accommodation, I use the following criteria when looking for a place to stay on these platforms: Do they have positive reviews? – If other people stayed there, had a good time, and found the apartment as adver

How to Find the Perfect Apartment for Vacation Rentals