Monday, March 7, 2011

Find Your Next Getaway the VRBO Way

It will probably come as no surprise to learn I'm the vacation planner in the family. That's not to say Hubby never recommends destinations, it just means that I am the one that does the vast majority of the planning.

I'm the girl who makes it happen. And I am good.

Really, I am. I've planned some pretty awesome trips over the years. One of the things that's made our trips so unique is my fondness for quirky lodging. I would so much rather stay in a cute little cabin, historic inn, national or state park lodge, etc., than a nondescript chain hotel. 

Just like a master carpenter, the quality of my "work" is directly proportional to the quality of my tools and the amount of effort I am willing to invest. Time is not an issue. I'll spend as much time as necessary to find just the right spot. As for the tools, one of my most powerful planning tools is the Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO) web site.

A few years back, when we took that Great Smoky Mountains trip, I found a cute "little" three bedroom, two bath cabin in Stecoah, North Carolina. It was just close enough to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) that we were easily able to see the main attractions there, but still have time to check out the Dragon and the Cherohala Skyway.

This cabin, which is easily big enough to sleep six, with no sofa beds involved, rents for between $90-$120/night or $550-$635/week. It has a fully-equipped kitchen, linens, satellite TV, active hummingbird bird feeders on the huge porch/deck, a fabulous front porch, and charm galore. Especially if you're into the whole cabin decor thing (bears and moose) like I am.

The cabin was almost perfect. The only drawback was scarcity of nearby restaurants. And liquor stores. I must admit, nothing beats an ice-cold beer after a long motorcycle ride. Except maybe a frozen margarita, but those take time.

Anyway, if you are prepared and pick up a few provisions en route, you will be set.

This is not the only place we've ever rented through VRBO. There was the pair of ADORABLE little cabins in the Black Hills. Hubby and I stayed in one and our friends, Kathy and Barry Spice, stayed in the other. Hubby and Barry rode their motorcycles to South Dakota. Kathy and I flew out and met them. We got to ride around exploring for a few days and then fly back home.

Our cabin was called The Cub House. Guess what it was full of?

Our cabin was the smaller of the two. But I LOVED it because it was full of bruins. I'm not sure if this one is still available for rent, which is a shame.

If you're a motorcyclist, the Black Hills should definitely be on your bucket list. I can do without the whole Sturgis rally thing. Huge crowds just aren't our thing. But the Black Hills area is just gorgeous. (And Oz, I agree Spearfish Canyon IS one of the best roads in the country.)

Another shot from the Great Smoky Mountains trip.

Here I am with my V-Star 1300 Tourer.
Here I am again with my favorite Hubby.

We've stayed in several great properties found through VRBO. There was an awesome spot on a little lake near Medicine Park, Oklahoma. And there's this spot, which I am beyond excited about, where we'll be staying for a few days with some friends in September.

When it's just Hubby and me, we only need small places. But the available properties come in all shapes and sizes. If you're traveling with a group, staying in one of these places is the way to go.

If you're planning a trip this year, check VRBO out. (This is a completely unpaid endorsement.)

Oh yeah, and would you like to see more pics from our Great Smoky Mountains trip? I uploaded them to Flickr today especially for you.

If you do find a place on VRBO, let me know. I may be looking for that spot in New Jersey I mentioned yesterday.

UPDATE: The SD cabins I mentioned are still available, just through a different service. They call it the Rockbottom Cottage. There are actually three cabins on the property, at least two of which are available to rent. Dan and Arlette, the hosts, live in a house on the property so are on-site pretty much all of the time to meet all of your needs. They're super-nice, gracious hosts. As with most properties of this type, daily maid service is not provided, but they do swap out your towels on a daily basis. And did I mention the place is on a creek? You can walk right to a state park/forest via an adjoining trail. There's a road bridge very close to the property, too, which gives you a bird's eye view of a cliff swallow colony. The cabin is within about 5 minutes of Keystone, which means Mt. Rushmore is right around the corner and there's also easy access to Custer State Park, another little piece of paradise. Can you tell I liked the place? My pictures from the trip are available on Flickr.


Shybiker said...

With your expertise in trip-planning, you are quite a resource!

I hadn't heard of this before and it certainly appeals to me. Thanks for the tip.

Kathy Spice said...

Aaaaaaw, I remember that vacation! Those cabins were so cute! We had a great time with you guys :)

motoroz said...

I have used VRBO before and actually a group of us (11 men and 3 boys) have booked 2 houses through VRBO for our July trip to Robbinsville, NC - 7 nights! Great area and great lodging.

ToadMama said...

Kathy, we did have fun! One of my favorite pictures (two really) are when I took a picture of you taking a picture of me as we rode through those tunnels nears Mt Rushmore.

Oz, sounds great. It is a very pretty and very affordable area. I did a quick check on places like that near the PA/NJ Delaware River area. Ouch. A lot of those places are much bigger than we need anyway. But still. We don't always splurge. Especially if it's just one night. Sometimes nondescript hotels are the only way to go. :-)

Talking about ouch, I did a search for cabin type lodging in the Grand Teton, Wyoming area. LOL LOL. I have to laugh at that one or I'd cry. How does $75,000/month sound to you as a rate? Yeah, the place is nice. But Jeez. Even if there is a personal chef on the premises and 200 acres to roam (or something like that). That is A LOT of money! It's fun to look at the Grand Teton places and daydream though.

bobskoot said...


I am also the one who does all the trip planning and thank you for the link to VRBO.

I think $75,000. is a bit out of our range but we could visit you there and stay down the road at the Super 6

Riding the Wet Coast

ToadMama said...

Bob, that's not in my range! LOL. I wish...

I'm not sure there's even a Super 6 or other cheap lodging close to Jackson Hole. :-)

Apartment in pattaya said...

Wow that place looks pretty neat! You will feel very close to nature while staying there. Nice bikes by the way!