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Thursday, February 25th
For just over a decade, Airbnb has been making a splash in the vacation rental marketplace, with options ranging from "couch space" to castles and literally everything in between. With over 4,000,000 listings in almost 200 countries worldwide, this service is likely to have a rental in almost any destination you choose.
You May Be Sharing The Space
One big difference about Airbnb vacation properties is that you may be sharing the space with the owner. That might be a great fit if you're a young professional traveling for work or an adventurer who just needs a place to crash for a night while you explore a new city. This service tries to vet every listing to make sure that anyone posting a property isn't going to be a problem, but we still recommend that you take a look at reviews from other people who have stayed there. Usually, you'll find lots of comments about fun and gracious hosts who go the extra mile to make your stay comfortable and offer insider tips for things to see in the area.
Use The Filtering Options
On the other hand, if you're vacationing with young children or if you like some privacy, that's probably not going to appeal to you. Fortunately, Airbnb has plenty of listings that let you rent the whole apartment, condo, or house without having to share - just make sure to use the filters to eliminate any options that don't match what you need.
Traditional, Monthly, Or Experience
You'll find those filters once you've started your search. Either type your destination in the search bar or browse by one of the major US cities listed at the bottom of the page. Next, you'll have three options: find a place to stay (your typical vacation rental), find a monthly stay (if you're planning on being there four weeks or longer), or find an experience (we'll give you more info on that last one a little later).
Choosing Your Rental
For most vacations, you'll pick the first option. Select your check-in and check-out dates, enter the number of guests (adults, children, infants), and you'll get a preliminary list of results. This is the page where you can make use of the filters function: the basic filters let you indicate if you only want rentals where you can have the whole property to yourself, ones where you don't have to be approved by the host before your stay is booked, and price range. Selecting "More Filters" lets you get down to the nuts and bolts of the rental properties' features. Does your travel group need a certain number of beds, bedrooms or bathrooms? Is access to a swimming pool a must-have? Are you planning on bringing Rover? The more specific you are with your filters, the less time you'll have to spend eliminating vacation rentals that ultimately won't make your list of possibilities.
Save The Ones You Want To Consider Later
You'll get a good overview of each property on your results list: scroll through a few photos, see the rating average and number of reviews, a brief blurb and nightly/total cost. You can also click the heart in the upper right corner to save any vacation rentals you want to consider later - this will save you a lot of time if there are a lot of properties at your destination.
Read The Details
When you click on a listing, be prepared to read carefully! This is where you'll get to see the name of your host(s), what types of cleaning protocols are in place, if you'll be checking yourself in or meeting with your host, cancellation policies, and so on.
Off And Running
Alos, be sure to carefully read the pricing information. Some Airbnb users get excited when they find a listing that sounds like a total bargain, but they're shocked to find out how much they'll be paying in taxes, service fees, cleaning fees, and more. For example, on a dreamy ocean view property in Nags Head that sleeps a whopping 28 guests, our nightly price was $1,005. However, our weekly stay tacked on an extra $1,000+ in Airbnb service fees, another $1000+ in taxes, and a cleaning fee of $255 - bringing our nightly price up considerably, to $1,340.
Innovative "Experiences" Feature
Remember the option you have to choose "experiences" through Airbnb? It's probably one of their most novel features. Have you ever wanted to try meditating with a Japanese monk? Cook with an Italian chef? Get inspired in a one-hour Zoom session with an Olympian? You'll find all of that and much, much more. Better yet, these one-of-a-kind opportunities aren't limited to your travel destination: many of them are held online, so if your vacation becomes a "stay-cation" at home, you've still got the chance to do something amazing.
Why They've Fallen
Why has Airbnb fallen to the bottom of our rankings since our last review? While it's true that this platform still has its share of controversy - with communities resisting Airbnb rental properties being listed within their midst, hotels pushing for more oversight, and so on - you'll find less-than-positive press about any vacation rental service. Airbnb is not the only one to receive an "F" from the Better Business Bureau, but they are the only BBB listing with an alert saying that, due to massive layoffs, the company is no longer responding to complaints. Granted, that's only with respect to problems sent to the BBB - you can still reach out to Airbnb through your account - but it's not a good sign overall. If something goes really south on your vacation rental, you want to know you've got options if the host isn't being helpful (or is completely AWOL).
Proceed With Caution
You've got a lot of options with Airbnb, and it may ultimately be your best resource if you're looking for a less-than-traditional vacation rental or just want one of those cool experiences. But, if you're committing a significant part of your hard-earned travel budget by booking a stay, you'll probably feel more secure if you use one of the higher-rated services in our review - to ensure that someone will pick up the phone if you need help with your vacation rental.
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.
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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