10 Travel Etiquette Tips When Renting an Airbnb or VRBO

August 16, 2016

AirBnBs and VRBO vacation rental properties are a hot ticket item right now for many travelers.  They offer the advantage of being ensconced in an area inhabited by locals rather than in a hotel inhabited with other travelers.  Sometimes the homeowners will be there during your stay; at others, you may be there on your own.

Before you book an AirBnB or VRBO vacation rental property, be very clear about what you are getting for your rental dollars.  Read the reviews.  Read the description of the property.  Ask questions about the area.  Be sure the home is suitable for your needs.  For instance: Are you a family with youngsters?  Ask if it is a kid-friendly neighborhood.  If the street is inhabited mainly by seniors, it may not be the best choice for your family with small children or teenagers.

Very often the owners reside in the property when it is not rented to vacationers.  They would appreciate your leaving it in the same (or better) condition as when you arrived.

The owners may be there throughout your stay.  Let them know when you expect to arrive and when you expect to ‘check out’.  If you have an early morning tour booked or will be leaving super early to drive to an attraction, give them the heads up.  If you plan to be out late, ask if there is an entrance they prefer you use when you return.

Loud music and over-enthusiastic partiers can be too much for the neighbors.  Having the police show up at the front door definitely will put a damper on your vacation mood, and it may get the owner barred from using his home as a vacation rental for future guests.

beach party

The owners should provide an Instruction Manual that includes – wifi password, how to operate the TV remote, quiet hours for the ‘hood, how to adjust the A/C (if it’s one of those ‘energy efficient’ thermostats that just may not be all that ‘user friendly’), maybe even a list of what to see/do, and of good cafes, restaurants, markets, and grocery stores in the immediate vicinity.

We’ve all heard the stories of the Airbnb ‘guests from hell’.  Don’t be that type of guest.  Here are some Travel Etiquette Tips that will result in your hosts clamoring to have you back again and again!

10 Tips to Being a Great AirBnB or VRBO Guest
  1. Treat the vacation rental as you would your own home.
  2. If you break something, stain the carpet, or cause any other damage – let the owners know.  In most cases, damage and/or breakage will be covered by your ‘Security Deposit’.  The House Rules should have information on this – such as, “If you break something, please replace it with a similar item, or just let us know.”
  3. Unless you have been given a James Bond-like ‘license to eat and drink’ anything that is in the house, good travel etiquette dictates that you keep your food/drink consumption to a minimum – feel free to use spices and condiments. If the home is strictly an AirBnB or a VRBO (ie. there are no family photos displayed or clothes hanging in the closets), then it’s open season on whatever the previous renters left behind….pasta, rice, canned food….it’s all yours…go for it…a bottle of wine and a couple of beers?  You, my friends, have hit the ‘mother lode’
  4. If the owners have gone away just for the weekend or for a couple of weeks – perishable fruits and vegetables are fine to consume but expect to replace most of what you eat with similar produce.  The same goes for soda, wine, beer, etc. – if you drink theirs, replace it, even if you can’t find the exact brand.  Some owners leave snacks or food and drink specifically for their paying guests – but they will advise you if it’s for you or not.  The name Airbnb implies that breakfast of some form will be available for guests.  This may be as little as a couple boxes of dry cereal and jars of jam and peanut butter – you provide your own milk, bread, etc.  Or, you may find the fridge stocked with breakfast items such as eggs, bacon, juice, and bagels for your ‘dining pleasure’ – once you’ve cooked it up yourself, that is
  5. Some owners charge a cleaning fee and others do not. Owners should specify in the ‘house rules/guide’ what they would like you to do before you leave (ie. take out the garbage, wash the dishes, strip the bed linens, etc).
  6. Collect all of your travel gear before you leave.  Chances are, once you drive away, you can ‘kiss goodbye’ any items you may have left behind.  If it’s a valuable item, you’ll need to make arrangements with the owner for its safe return to you….or you’ll need to drive back for it.
  7. Whether the owner requests it or not – take out all of your garbage prior to your departure.
  8. Turn out all the lights and lock the door when you leave. Drop off the key where the owner has requested that you do.
  9. Advise your host when you ‘check out’ of the AirBnB or VRBO by sending them an email, text or using another method that you have agreed upon.  They may need to get the home ready for their next guests.
  10. Write a review for the benefit of both future renters and the owners.  If you loved it – let everyone know why.  If it wasn’t all it was advertised to be – the owner needs to be made aware of any shortfalls so he can make the required improvements (if possible) or adjust his description to be more accurate.  Don’t write a bad review before letting your host know what your complaints are.

reading a book

Airbnb's and VRBO can be a win-win for both parties

The concept of an Airbnb or a VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) certainly can be a win-win for both parties.  The property owners make some money, and you get to enjoy the comforts of a ‘home away from home’ during your vacation.  That certainly sounds like a ‘win-win’ situation!

Written by Emma Ghattas