Shoestring Budget Travels: The Vacation Rental Edition

View from my vacation rental apartment in the 1st Arr in Paris, May 2012
View from my vacation rental apartment in the 1st Arr in Paris, May 2012

One of the biggest expenses of taking a trip is paying for a hotel. Hotels in most locations will run you at least $150/night and if you’re planning on staying 7,8 or 9 nights, you’ve already racked up a bill higher than the cost of your flight! I’ve never been the type to stay in a hostel (I’m too afraid of people stealing my stuff!), so last year I decided to get into the vacation rental game. And BOY am I glad I did!

So what are vacation rentals? Vacation rentals are apartments put up for short-term leasing on sites such as AirBnB and VRBO . The shortest stay available is normally 2 nights and some places are available to stay for up to a month . Vacation rentals can save you a lot of money on your trips, thus making it easier for you to take more trips in the future, or even to tack on more days to your existing trip! Not convinced yet? I’ve created a list of pros and cons for vacation rentals vs hotels, so take a look!

                Vacation Rentals                                          vs                                                            Hotels

  • Start as low as $50/night                                                                          $50/night = roach motel in most locales
  • WiFi is almost always included                                                                 Many hotels have surcharges for slow wi-fi access
  • Kitchen to make own snacks/drinks, etc                                             Besides minibar, no kitchen options which can rack up $$$
  • More options in city center for cheap                                                  City center =$$$ Cheaper = airport/farther out
  • Chance to live like a local!                                                                          Being a tourist and lacking a bit of local flavor
  • No rushing out for housekeeping!                                                           Housekeeping is a luxury!
  • Some offer free international phone calls                                            International calls + wi-fi charges will rack up $$$
  • A cash deposit is normally required                                                      Slap down a credit card and pay later – very easy!
  • Read reviews VERY carefully & do research on the areas            Read reviews VERY carefully-do your research!
  • Oftentimes, close to public transport                                                    Close to public transport plus taxi lines available at hotel


Like with everything, do your due diligence and make sure you research the neighborhoods that you want to stay in and that you would feel safest in. Be sure to do a Google street view as soon as you have the address and scour forums to see if that area has had any problems lately. Check to see how close you’ll be to your preferred mode of transportation. One mistake I made in Montreal was staying in a cute neighborhood, but far from any great transportation. The fact that there was over a foot of snow made getting around even more difficult than it would have been! Save yourself some time and stress and let your fingers do the walking beforehand.

view below my bedroom window in a vacation rental in Rome
view below my bedroom window in a vacation rental in Rome

So where can you find some of these great vacation rentals? Here’s a list of a few of my go-to places.







By the way, I got into vacation rentals while planning a trip to Paris last year. I was going in May, with my sister, and I realized that it was one of the most EXPENSIVE times to visit Paris. All hotels were around $400 a night or more. Not being into hostels, I decided to find an apartment for us. Not only did it save us hundreds of dollars, but it was gorgeous and in a gorgeous location where we were able to walk to the Louvre, the Marais, Notre Dame and feel like true Parisians! If you’re interested, check out his apartment here and tell him that Robin sent you!


PS – make sure these type of accommodations are LEGAL in the locale you’re visiting. Airbnb rentals are no longer legal in places like New York City.

One thought on “Shoestring Budget Travels: The Vacation Rental Edition

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