The Greatest Locations to Book Journey and Trip Leases in 2021
After nearly a year of pandemic hunting, most of us are itching to escape. While many hotels do their best to make hotel stays safe for their guests, the only way to stay 100% safe right now is by not meeting up with strangers in confined spaces. The next best option is to book a vacation rental, a host family, or a B&B getaway that is likely to be just for you and the guests closest to you. These are the best vacation rental websites for anyone looking for a fun and safe vacation in 2021.
As the forefather of peer-to-peer vacation rentals, Airbnb doesn’t need an introduction. However, such a summary would not be complete without mentioning it. The site has the world’s largest collection of vacation rentals, from barebones campsites to tiny vacation homes to luxury beach villas. Airbnb’s search function is top notch, making it easy to find location, price, amenities, pet-friendliness, and more. In fact, it’s so good that almost every competitor tries to copy it.
What we like: What we love most are the unique opportunities to stay. This includes everything from tree houses and tipis to yurts on mountain tops and even igloos. If you’re looking to stay out of the box, you can even stay overnight in a giant Idaho potato, Scottish retro submarine, or shipping container in the woods.
If you know you want to escape but are not yet picky, or have not yet decided on the type of property you’re looking for, Booking.com is a good place to start. The website has detailed facts, features, and reviews on each property listed. While it can be overwhelming, it’s also great to know that they leave nothing out. In 2021, the website is also promoting huge savings of 20% or more on early bird bookings for the most popular destinations in the United States.
What we like: More than any other vacation rental website, Booking.com offers a dizzying range of options. It has been expanded well beyond the days of “fair” hotel rental and includes everything from chain hotels and mom and pop inns to peer-to-peer apartments and vacation homes.
Together with Travelocity, Expedia started as an all-in-one travel booking engine for flights, hotels and rental cars. Since then it has been expanded to include other “boutique” offers such as private holiday homes, condominiums and cabin rentals. You won’t find the same character and uniqueness of rentals here that Airbnb, for example, can offer, but the discount prices sometimes make up for the lack of choice.
What we like: The search function makes it easier to find holiday apartments in certain areas and districts within a destination. For example, if you’re looking for Miami, it’s nice to only look at stays near South Beach or Ocean Drive.
Vrbo (formerly “VRBO” or “Vacation Rental by Owner”) has long been one of the two largest vacation rental websites (the other, HomeAway, was acquired by parent company Expedia in Vrbo). It is still among the best in the world with offers in almost every country. The website does a great job of screening tenants and homeowners to help minimize fraud. In addition, customer service is available around the clock to help with problems before, during and after your rental stay.
What we like: The site design is clear, crisp and easy to use. This is especially useful when you are unsure of where or how to travel. Vrbo has great jump categories like “On the Beach”, “Pets Welcome” or just “Swimming Pools”.
HomeToGo is to vacation rentals what kayaking is to travel in general. It’s like a search engine from search engines. Technically speaking, it is a meta search engine, which means that results from other search engines are combined. And that involves a lot of results so that you don’t have a choice. The website offers more than 18 million accommodation options from over 2,000 booking partners. This includes all the big names like Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, and many that you’ve probably never heard of. HomeToGo’s filters are clear and intuitive. They contain check boxes for important things like “instant booking” and allow you to search by night rate or total cost with taxes.
What we like: For anyone looking for the shortest route to book the perfect budget-friendly vacation, it doesn’t get much easier than HomeToGo.
Vacasa has been online since 2009 and has a long history in vacation rental and vacation rental management. Hence Vacasa knows a thing or two about both. While the alternatives on this list offer a variety of vacation rentals, Vacasa focuses on upscale and luxury stays. Think of sophisticated mountain chalets, large huts on the lake shore and holiday homes by the sea. This means you will find fewer offers overall, but the caliber of rentals is usually higher. That usually means a higher price too. But in this time of COVID, you and your family deserve it.
What we like: In light of COVID-19, Vacasa has made cleanliness a priority for its guests. The Vacasa Premium Clean program ensures that all rentals are thoroughly cleaned in accordance with CDC recommendations or beyond.
It started out 20 years ago as a travel review and comparison website, but TripAdvisor has grown much more than that. Nowadays, users can book everything from flights to hotel stays to rafting trips in Costa Rica with a single search. It still has nearly 900 million reviews of travel destinations and businesses around the world. However, it now also consolidates rental results from the many websites under its roof, including FlipKey, HouseTrip and the aptly named VacationHomeRentals.
What we like: With a strong focus on customer ratings, new travelers can find thousands of detailed, unbiased reviews and comments on almost any property before booking.
Booking any type of travel right now seems like a delicate matter. Read our guide to find out when and how to travel safely in the coming year. When you’re ready to pull the trigger, travel subscription services like Safara can be a great alternative to booking your next vacation rental.