Did you know often times it’s cheaper to stay in a private apartment or home than a cheap hotel in many cities around the world? And on top of that private homes have full-size kitchens so you can make meals yourself rather than go out and easily keep beverages and snacks on hand. Not to mention extras like a washer & dryer, free Internet, etc.
There are a number of vacation home rental websites but one of the most popular, and one that I have used a number of times for family vacations, is VRBO (Vacation By Owner). VRBO offers homes around the world that can be rented for the night, week or month. With VRBO and most similar sites, you deal directly with the property owner rather than an agency. Sometimes you have to do quite a bit of emailing back and forth with the owner to negotiate a price (most are negotiable!) and confirm details but in most cases once you have made the reservation, the rest is just as easy as staying at a hotel.
When you stay at a vacation rental the property is clean and ready to rent with towels, beds with clean sheets and a stocked kitchen & bathrooms with shampoo, toilet paper, etc.. Usually the owner meets you at the property and shows you around the unit. When you leave, just leave the keys in the unit and close the door; the housekeeper will be coming soon after you depart.
We recently traveled to London, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Madrid with our adult niece and nephew. In Amsterdam and Madrid we stayed at VRBO apartments. We negotiated a great rate with the Amsterdam owner and he met us at the unit with a bottle of wine and six-pack of beer. The apartment only had 2 bedrooms so we arranged the living room as an extra room but it had a large terrace that was a nice bonus! The apartment was right in the center of town for only US$120 per night. In Madrid we found a 3-bedroom apartment within blocks of Plaza Mayor that was a killer deal at only US$90 per night. Those rates are for accommodations for 4 people that would ordinarily require 3 hotel rooms!
On this particular trip because we needed 3 separate rooms, the apartments made great financial sense, but my husband and I have stayed at vacation rentals as a couple and still found them to be a tremendous value. It takes a little research but it’s worth the time to look for a deal!