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If you've ever stayed in one, you already know all of the advantages a vacation rental has over a traditional hotel stay - especially for trips that will last longer than a night or two. Because vacation rental properties are usually fully-furnished apartments, condos, and houses, they give you a home away from home. From kitchens with all of the pots and pans to make a gourmet meal, to washers and dryers that mean you don't have to pack as much clothing, vacation rentals can have it all.
How do vacation rental properties work? Many are owned privately, and the owners take a lot of pride in making sure you have a fantastic stay. You may arrive to find complimentary snacks on the kitchen counter or a binder full of local recommendations for things to do and restaurants to visit, and your hosts could even stop in to introduce themselves.
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Tripadvisor is the obvious choice for booking a vacation rental. Not only will you find properties in over 200 countries and throughout the US, but you'll also have all of the on-the-ground info you need to eat, play and shop at the most highly-rated places when you get there. And, this is the only platform we found that offers Payment Protection if you're locked out of your rental or find significant problems when you arrive. If you're planning on staying in a house, condo, apartment, castle or chalet on your next trip, you should use Tripadvisor for booking your vacation rental.
Vacasa manages vacation rental properties in the US and several other countries. That means that every listing on their site is handled by their own team of representatives, with local service for cleaning and any issues that may arise. We particularly like the 3-D virtual tours for each property, so there are no surprises about the layout or amenities. While customer feedback for Vacasa is mixed, the company's "A+" rating and accreditation from the BBB is a good indicator that you'll have help if you need it while staying at a Vacasa-managed vacation rental.
Vrbo, now owned by Expedia, is the one-stop site of several vacation rental companies you may have used in the past, like HomeAway. You'll find over 2 million options here, from basic homes and condos to novel choices like mills and yachts. You'll have no problems using Vrbo to find a place to stay on your next trip - but some complaints on their BBB listing indicate that you could have issues if you need customer service help for a refund or with a vacation rental that isn't as advertised.
Want to get your vacation accommodations for free? It's possible with Home Exchange. The catch? You have to be willing to share your home with other travelers. This service has hundreds of thousands of members worldwide, and it's easy to see reviews from people who have exchanged homes and set your mind at ease before you make a commitment. This is a reliable, well-used service and it presents an opportunity to travel on the cheap - but keep in mind that this is not a traditional vacation rental service by any definition, and unless you live in a popular tourist destination, you might not find anyone who wants to swap houses with you.
Agoda offers both traditional hotels and rental properties like apartments and houses. The site is easy to use, and a price match guarantee sweetens the deal. But, you won't find as many listings here when looking at competitor vacation rental sites. Combined with a poor rating from the BBB, that fact earns Agoda a rating that's merely average.
Airbnb offers the widest range of vacation rental possibilities, whether you just need a room in a shared apartment for a night or you want an entire chateau to yourself. The service also has a unique "Experiences" option that gives you access to tours, classes and even online sessions with famous people. Unfortunately, Airbnb has the worst possible rating with the BBB - and an advisory there indicating you may be left hanging if you need any kind of customer service.
Other vacation rentals are owned and operated by management companies, so your experience might feel more like a traditional hotel stay. No matter how your property is managed, it's a great way to have a more relaxing, private vacation. Plus, with unique destinations that include castles, chalets and even boats, vacation rentals are only limited by your creativity (and maybe your budget!).
However, not all sites offering vacation rentals are equal. You won't care if the service you used has millions of properties if they leave you hanging once you've checked in, or if you can't get help from a responsive customer service team when a problem arises. Which one should you choose for your vacation?
Here are several things to keep in mind as you consider the options:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best vacation rental websites available today. We hope this information helps you find the perfect spot for your next adventure, whether it's a county or a continent away!
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