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Hotel Alternatives: Booking Rental Homes For Travel

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As a companion piece to Ryan Gargiulo‘s post on reasonably priced long-and-short term accommodation, TPG International Contributor Lori Zaino shares a few more websites that will help you rent a house or apartment for your next trip. Although AmEx Membership Rewards partner Airbnb may be the most popular rental site, several other websites offer a variety of rental options, as well.

The sea view bungalow I've rented twice with friends in the Canary Islands was a lovely experience on Homeaway.
The sea view bungalow I’ve rented twice with friends in the Canary Islands was a lovely experience on HomeAway.

HomeAway, VRBO & OwnersDirect

With more than a million listings between them, HomeAway and its subsidiary, VRBO, are Airbnb’s strongest competitors in the vacation accommodation rental market. HomeAway has more listings and VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) includes extensive community forums and comments sections to help police its users, but otherwise the two sites are quite similar in terms of functionality, the types of listings they offer, and their payment methods and guarantees.

Both sites charge no booking fees and offer guarantees of up to $10,000 for situations like an inadvertent double-booking, the property owner wrongfully withholding your security deposit, your rental accommodation being foreclosed upon, and more. Some TPG team members have had great luck with both VRBO and HomeAway in various countries.

Owners Direct offers some great rentals, especially in Europe
Owners Direct offers some great rentals, especially in Europe

A veteran in the home-rental site arena, UK-based HomeAway extension site Owner’s Direct started back in 1997 (well before Airbnb was even on the radar) and continues to list great properties within Europe and charge no booking fees. For about eight years now, I’ve been renting accommodations from Owner’s Direct, usually in the Canary Islands and Portugal, and have always have wonderful experiences with them.

Koh Phangan The view from The Glass Cottage, a FlipKey Rental in Koh Phangan, Thailand, one of the most unique and beautiful rental properties I've stayed in.
The The Glass Cottage, a FlipKey Rental in Koh Phangan, Thailand, one of the most unique and beautiful rental properties I’ve stayed in.

Flip Key by TripAdvisor

While searching for a rental in Koh Phangan, Thailand, I found that Flip Key listed many of the same properties as Airbnb, but because Flip Key charged slightly lower fees, I booked with them instead—and had a very positive experience. The site offers over 300,000 rentals in over 11,000 cities around the world, and owners are verified to ensure they’re legit. The reviews that are shown are connected directly to TripAdvisor.

The website is convenient for owners, as well, because once an owner lists a property (for free), it’s also automatically listed on TripAdvisor so that it can be reviewed. Owners pay 3% per booking if their property gets rented.

The view from the Shark Studio retreat, available on Vacasa, in Belize
The view from the Shark Studio retreat, available on Vacasa, in Belize

Vacasa

A small rental and property-management agency based in Portland, Oregon, Vacasa only offers about 1,600 properties in the United States—mainly in the western region of the country as well as in Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Florida—but has recently expanded to include property listings in Mexico, Belize and Panama. Vacasa has general rules for their rentals, such as prohibiting smoking in all properties, aiming to ensure that both customers and owners have a stress-free, elegant rental experience.

Vacasa offers some unique rentals, like this Oregon boat-access only cabin
Vacasa offers some unique rentals, like this Oregon boat-access only cottage

Have you had positive experiences with any other vacation home rental sites? Feel free to share in the comments section below.

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