I get asked questions about cabins often and while I’ve touched this topic in a previous cabin review post (you can see it here) I thought it might me helpful to gather our cabin hunting tips and tricks all in one post.
If you love the idea of booking a cabin for your next vacation but are not sure how to go about it this is the post for you my friend!
If you find this post helpful I sure hope you’ll pass it on!
Where To Start:
-When we’re ready to start looking for a cabin we mainly use two sites, VRBO and Airbnb. In certain areas VRBO is used more often by property owners and in other areas Airbnb is the more favored platform. I recommend checking both thoroughly before making your finial decision. Both sites are user friendly and allow you to refine your search criteria such as how many bedrooms you would like, places that are pet friendly and so on.
-Every now and then we’ll pick a vacation spot and find slim pickins’ (as far as cabin rentals ) on both sites. If this happens to you no biggie you just need to dig a little deeper. For example the last cabin we booked was found through a Google search. I had a hard time finding a cabin I was gaga over when searching VRBO and Airbnb. I jumped on Google and typed the name of the city we wanted to visit and slapped the words “cabin rental” behind it. When searching this way you’ll come across websites hosted by the city that direct you to other sites run by the property manager/owner. Little more time investment and hunting involved when searching this way but you can really find some great gems!
-If you’re visiting a smaller town you can also call the city directly. Often times they will keep a log of the different rental properties in the area and are more than happy to get you in contract with someone that can help you!
We have used all three of these methods to successfully book cabins!
-Cabin porch in Hot Springs Arkansas-
Our Cabin Check List: This is our personal list of things we look for when we’re cabin hunting. Your list may look completely different but I wanted to share ours just in case you find it helpful.
Our Cabin Must Haves (besides the typical bathroom, kitchen, type stuff)
- Far from busy streets
- Safe for kids, no cliffs close by and must have areas of flat land for the boys and Brady (our dog) to safely run and play
- True log cabin look, we skip over anything that looks like a typical home inside or out
- Lots of trees on the lot
- The living room must be open with a safe space for little children to play
- Dinning table has to sit at least 4
- The inside of the cabin must be kid friendly or be a space that we can make kid friendly (by moving a few things around). We don’t want to spend our vacation worrying about the boys falling on something sharp or breaking someone’s beautiful decor so simple and safe is best for us
- We looks for cabins that look clean and well taken care of, not only will this make us more comfortable a well kept property says a lot about its owners/property managers
- No smoking allowed inside the cabin
- Comfy couch to rest on. We’re outside most of the day but in the evenings or during nap time for our littles we like to have a comfy couch to rest on or curl up with a book
-Cabin in Durango, Colorado, see cabin review HERE-
Things We Look For But Are Not Deal Breakers
- Wifi (this one is hugging the fence. If we want to stay longer than a couple days we have to have wifi)
- Fire pit
- Big safe porch and outdoor table for dining
- A place to fish on or close to the property
- Close to hiking huge plus if we can hike on the property
- Great views
- Not too big, we love that cozy cabin feel when we’re vacationing and it’s usually just us so we tend to go for cabins that are more on the cozy side
- Wood burning fireplace
- Close to a grocery or convenient store, we often buy our food after we arrive so having something like this close by comes in handy
- Washer and Dryer (again this is another one that is hugging the line. If we stay longer than a couple days we’ll need a place we can wash our clothes)
- Dog friendly, we always prefer to bring our dog when we can
-Cabin in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, see cabin review HERE –
Before You Book:
You found a cabin! You’re ready to book! Before you move forward with payment be sure you have…….
-Read all reviews you can find about the property. Some properties are listed on both Airbnb and VRBO. If this is true for the cabin you’re thinking about booking be sure that you’ve read both sets of reviews. Check to see if the property has a Facebook or Instagram page. If so be sure you’ve read reviews there as well. I’ve even gone as far as to check for hashtags using the properties name. I love seeing a property we’re thinking about renting through the eyes of a previous renter verses what the owner wants the renter to see (get my drift).
Reviews not only bring up red flags that may be a concern they also provide wonderful information about things previous renters enjoyed during their stay. You might discover a fun hiking trail or a local restaurant to try out. If you see several reviews mentioning something that concerns you reach out to the property manager and discuss your concerns or find another cabin. We’ve passed on many a cabin due to poor reviews. It’s not worth having a crummy vacation over so be picky friends!
-Look deeply at the photos of the property shared by property manager. Usually they’re honest and show the property in true light but it’s best to be safe than sorry. We’ve come across a few cabins that are listed as secluded but after looking more into the photos I could see neighbors through the cabin windows. Not something a non picky renter would pick up on but y’all I’m a stickler about the cabins we visit. If I can say mornin’ to our cabin neighbor without raising my voice I don’t consider that secluded. Now with that being said “secluded” has a different meaning depending on the area you’re booking but that’s not important here. My point is to look deep at the photos as they present lots of information about the cabin even things that the property manager may have not been trying to capture. Are they shot at a wonky angle for a reason? Are there photos of the outside of the cabin. If not, why? Does the inside look clean and safe for your family?
-Ask questions! Before we moved forward with any booking I always ask specific questions to the property manager. Just for example here are a few I typically ask……
“I notice you mentioned that the property is off Highway 356. How close is the highway to the property? Can we hear highway traffic from the cabin?”
“Is it safe for my dog to run off leash around the property?”
“Are their any other busy roads nearby? If so how close to cabin are they”
“How long will it take us to get to the closest grocery store?”
“I have two small children. Is the area around the cabin safe for small kids to run and explore?
“I noticed in your reviews that the refrigerator was recently broken. Has that been fixed?
Be very specific in the questions you ask!
-Cabin in Fairplay, Colorado, travel post & cabin review coming soon-
And there ya have it friends, an in depth all you wanted to know tips and tricks post on how we hunt down and book all the beautiful cabins we visit. If I’ve missed anything you’re wanting to know in regards to finding and booking cabins let me know in your comment below.
If you’ve found this post helpful I would be so grateful if you pass it along to your friends and family. If you happen to be property owner or know someone who would like us to come photograph and review a property please reach out. I’d love to chat with you!