This isn’t only the year of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s also the year of the itchy-feet pandemic. Stay-at-home orders have got us all feeling cabin fever, and the only known remedy is planning our next vacation. First stop: searching great deals on vacation home rental websites.
Vacation home rentals have exploded in popularity in recent years, thanks in no small part to the internet. Around 450 million people used vacation rentals websites to book accommodation in 2019, according to iPropertyManagement. The total amount spent on vacation rentals last year was $87.1 billion, up 6.9% from the previous year.
Once travel restrictions ease, vacation home rentals are sure to jump back into the spotlight. To help you plan your next adventure, we compiled a list of the 10 best vacation home rental sites. Each website serves a different niche, but all of them are big. Even the smallest sites on our list have a steady supply of vacation homes to rent.
Booking.com is the largest accommodation booking service on the internet, with 28 million listings. Although most of its listings are hotels, around one-quarter are vacation rentals like houses, apartments, and shared spaces.
Not content with being merely the biggest rental website, Booking.com is also the best apartment finder. Its search engine is incredibly user-friendly, letting you filter by dozens of categories including budget, privacy level, user rating, facilities, and property accessibility.
As a testament to its usability, Booking.com accommodates 43 languages and dozens of currencies. Regular users benefit from awesome perks such as discounts, secret deals, and exclusive city travel guides.
Airbnb is the biggest website dedicated solely to vacation rentals and experiences. Founded as a place to advertise room rentals, it quickly expanded to apartments, houses, and other types of vacation rentals.
This is the website for the adventurous traveler. Aside from homes and apartments, Airbnb also offers tens of thousands of unique stays – including tiny houses, tree houses, and castles (seriously!). It recently added online experiences for at-home travel experiences – such as fitness sessions, cooking classes, and escape room nights.
Airbnb is a global power, with listings in more than 100,000 cities and experiences in 1,000+ cities worldwide. Its sight is accessible in 62 languages in virtually every country and region.
Like it or not, Google has its finger in everything – including vacation rentals. If you’ve ever used Google Flights, you’ll instantly feel familiar on Google Hotels. The site uses the same layout and works on the same principle of aggregating offers from multiple service providers (incl. Booking.com, Vrbo, Tripadvisor and more).
When you land on Google’s vacation rentals site, you’ll instantly see deals for popular destinations. At the top, you’ll find a search bar where you can enter your destination, dates, and number of travelers.
As with Google Flights and Google Hotels, Google Vacation Rentals lets you search in US dollars and dozens of other currencies. The service is super easy to use. Once you find an option you like, Google will redirect you to the provider to complete the purchase.
Vrbo is the best website for unique vacation rentals like condos, cabins, and chalets. Originally known as Vacation Rentals by Owner, or VRBO, it was rebranded as Vrbo after being acquired by Expedia in 2019.
Like we said, Vrbo is great for booking unique holiday experiences. It advertises rentals to suit all styles, including: houses, condos, apartments, cabins, cottages, bungalows, studios, townhouses, villas, guest houses, chalets, caravans, estates, farmhouses, country houses, boats, barns, houseboats, yachts, and castles.
Like all the other websites on our list, Vrbo is very user-friendly. You can start planning your next vacation using its Trip Board feature. Just press the heart button on the rentals you like to add them to your board.
FlipKey is Tripadvisor’s answer to Vrbo, and is equally deserving of a place on our list. Like Vrbo, FlipKey focuses on unique rentals. It was founded in 2008, and quickly snapped up by TripAdvisor in 2008.
When you land on the FlipKey website, you’ll find a number of useful methods of searching the perfect vacation rental. Method one is to enter your destination, dates, and click the ‘search’ button. Method two is to enter your email for the best deals and personalized recommendations. Method three is to check out FlipKey’s lists of trending destinations, traveler favorites, popular destinations, hidden gems, featured destinations, and beach getaways.
As its name suggests, onefinestay is the place for the finest luxury vacation rentals. It offers a relatively small number of rentals, all of them personally vetted and managed by established local professionals.
As a leading luxury vacation site, onefinestay boasts two collections of exclusive rentals. The City Collection comprises carefully curated homes in world-class cities like New York, London, and Paris. The Villa Collection presents the highest-quality villas in exotic locations like St Barts, St John, and Turks and Caicos.
When you hire a rental through onefinestay, the entire experience is professionally managed, complete with tailored amenities and 24/7 support.
Sonder was once the largest professional host on Airbnb, but quickly branched out on its own. Its specialty is modern living, with thousands of chic and stylish vacation rentals in major cities in the US, Canada, and Britain.
When you use Sonder, you get more than just a vacation rental. All its spaces are vetted for high-speed Wi-Fi, artisan coffee, and everyday amenities like fresh towels, fully-equipped kitchen, and in-suite laundry. It offers self-check-in and 24/7 support via its app. Before you arrive at your rental, Sonder’s staff clean and disinfect the place.
It pays to take an extended vacation in a Sonder rental. A 7-night stay earns you 35% off, 14+ nights gets 40% off, and 30+ nights translates to 45% off.
Thanks to websites like HomeExchange, home swaps are now a viable alternative to traditional commercial accommodation. Founded in 2017, HomeExchange has built a global community where people can easily and securely exchange homes during vacation.
Membership costs $150 per year, and includes unlimited exchanges, 24/7 support, and property damage cover. To get started, just create your profile and home listed. Next, search for homes you’d like to swap with your own.
HomeExchange even has a system (called GuestPoints) for non-reciprocal exchanges. Essentially, you can host someone at your home for GuestPoints and then use those points to travel at a time of your choosing.
Another vacation trend that has grown in popularity in recent years is homestays. The first company to introduce homestays was Couchsurfing, but Homestay is now the number one website in the market.
Homestay offers an affordable and safe way to stay in other people’s homes when traveling for leisure, study, or work. Like Airbnb, every Homestay reader can leave a review. Today, Homestay has thousands of reputable home-stay hosts offering short-term and long-term accommodation.
Although it markets itself as an affordable vacation alternative, Homestay does boast some luxury accommodation. On its website, you’ll find everything from regular rooms to nineteenth century French chateaus to early-twentieth century Cuban casas.
Vacasa has a network of professionally managed vacation rentals all around the world. The focus is on luxury homes in high-end destinations in the US and Caribbean, although it also has options in Europe, Latin America, and Africa.
The Vacasa platform can be searched from your desktop or the Vacasa app (App Store and Google Play). You can explore every corner of a Vacasa home with 3D virtual tours and length property descriptions. Before you arrive, professional housekeepers thoroughly clean and stock your home.
The service is extremely convenient. You’ll even receive the Wi-Fi password straight to the mobile app. As a professionally managed service, Vacasa’s customer support team can be reached 24/7 during your vacation.