Hotel, Airbnb, or Vrbo: How to Pick Where to Stay

When planning a vacation for a group of family or friends, all the details can get overwhelming! You need to decide where you’re going, coordinate everyone’s availability, review flight schedules, and figure out where everyone will stay once you arrive at your destination.

Today’s travelers can choose from a large selection of accommodations, including traditional hotels, private and shared rental options from Airbnb, and privately owned Vrbo rentals.

We’ve put together a quick comparison that should help you pick where to stay – hotel, Airbnb, or Vrbo!


The first step to deciding which accommodations are the right choice for you is to know the answers to a few important questions:

  • How many people are in your travel party?
  • What sleeping arrangements are needed?
  • How long will you be staying?
  • What is your budget?
  • Are you traveling with any pets?
  • Do you want to cook, clean, and have access to wash laundry?
  • Are you familiar with your travel destination?

Knowing this information will make it easier to make an informed choice about where to stay.


Hotels are available at price ranges from economy to luxury. Your budget will help determine which type of hotel may work well for your needs, but you also want to consider which amenities and location are most important.

Hotels include housekeeping service for all guests, 24-hour staff on-site for any needs that may arise, and security and safety of a front lobby and keyed entry points.

Common hotel amenities include a swimming pool, hot tub, restaurant, bar, fitness room, and room service.

When comparing the price of a hotel to a vacation rental, short stays of a few days or less are usually more affordable in a hotel due to the extra fees associated with a vacation rental like a security deposit, damage waiver, and cleaning fee. However, if your stay is over three days, a vacation rental can be less expensive per person than a hotel.


Airbnb and Vrbo are vacation rental booking platforms that connect homeowners with renters in locations around the world. Let’s look at how staying in a privately owned vacation rental booked with Airbnb or Vrbo differs from a traditional hotel stay.

The price of vacation rentals, like hotels, varies based upon the location, amenities, and the owner.

A few benefits of booking a vacation rental include:

  • Convenience of a kitchen for meal preparation and savings from restaurant costs.
  • Privacy of separate bedrooms for different family members.
  • Availability of rentals that allow you to choose your desired amenities.
  • Common areas to spend time as a family or group.

However, there are also some potential concerns to consider when booking a vacation rental. Since the properties rented on Airbnb and Vrbo are privately owned, you don’t always have the same guarantees as with a traditional hotel room or rental management company.

Though the platforms have policies to protect guests, there are a few additional things to keep in mind as you make your decision:

  • Research the property location, especially if you aren’t familiar with the area.
  • There is a possibility of the home or unit being sold, damaged, or otherwise unavailable before your stay. Though you would receive a refund, it still could put you in a last-minute scramble to find alternative accommodations.
  • The owner is responsible for cleaning and maintenance, and not everyone’s standards for what is acceptable condition are the same.
  • If any issues arise during your stay, you need to depend on the owner to be responsive to your needs.

One way to quiet some of these potential concerns is to read reviews from past guests, which will give you an idea of the type of host the owner will be for you and your group.


Vrbo stands for Vacation Rental by Owner. Vrbo specializes in offering vacation rentals of all types including houses, apartments, condos, and villas. Anything available for rent on their website is a standalone rental that guests will have to themselves, versus sharing any spaces with the homeowner or other guests.

Airbnb is also a home rental platform with a mission to connect homeowners to guests seeking short-term rentals. Though Airbnb’s inventory also includes private homes and units like VRBO, shared spaces are also available for booking.

Though the private homeowners set their rental pricing and policies on both platforms, extra fees set by each platform may vary.

As far as how to decide between Vrbo and Airbnb? The price of vacation rentals on both platforms varies based on the location, amenities, and the owner.

We suggest searching both platforms for your travel dates and destination. Depending on your search parameters, you may find a better deal on one or the other. Don’t forget to review the fees, cancellation policies, and past customer reviews before booking to make sure you’re making the best choice.


Whether you decide to book a hotel, Airbnb, or Vrbo rental for your upcoming getaway, South Bend International Airport can get you there!

We offer nonstop flights to 12 destinations and connections worldwide, all while focusing on keeping you safe. Learn more about the airlines who fly with us and call us anytime at 574-282-4950 to learn more about our flights and convenient connections to and from your desired destination.

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