Short-term vacation rentals have transformed the nature of travel, allowing travelers to extend their vacations without having to worry about exorbitant hotel prices.
AirBnB has made travel a more enriching experience by providing the comfort of local accommodation—often with highly knowledgable local hosts—to travelers when they’re away from home.
AirBnB has a large customer service team and offers a range of properties. They offer a collection of listings, from camper stays to palatial estates, so travelers can zero in on exactly what they’re looking for.
Why Limit Ourselves?
AirBnB’s popularity in the last few years has greatly reduced the number of properties available for booking as demand outstrips supply.
With customers booking properties as much as three months in advance and for extended periods of time, it can be tough to find the kind of property you’re looking for.
Luckily, other sites like AirBnB have cropped up over the years offering an array of vacation rental homes to choose from. In this article we will take a look at the options available today.
Difference Between Booking Sites
Before we explore the options that can replace AirBnB, let’s classify the types of vacation rental websites out there.
Websites like Trivago (which I use pretty extensively) and Booking.com are known as aggregators. These websites provide a database of listings found on websites like AirBnB and Agoda along with hotel rooms available in a particular location.
Aggregator websites give travelers an array of options to choose from, allowing them to narrow down their search with the help of specific filters.
This can be super helpful, especially if you’re looking for something like a single-family home vacation rental that is pet-friendly.
Hotels like the Marriott or the Hilton have their own websites where bookings can be made. These options aren’t really alternatives to AirBnB as the pricing for hotel rooms can often be much higher, with fewer amenities. Still, if you’re on a budget, need prime location, or can’t find a vacation rental this can be a viable option.
3. Vacation Rentals
Websites like AirBnB, Homestay, and Agoda come under this category and offer fully-furnished homes with the usual amenities so guests can set up a “home away from home” during their vacation.
Websites like AirBnB
Now that you have an idea of the different kinds of vacation-listing websites out there, let’s take a look at the alternatives to AirBnB.
VRBO, which stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner, is perhaps the first website to connect travelers to vacation home rentals. That’s right, VRBO is actually the predecessor of AirBnB!
Listings on VRBO are often much larger, with a duplex or a backyard, and can’t be found on other websites. The availability grof a larger space makes VRBO the best vacation home site for guests traveling in large groups.
Today, VRBO is owned by Expedia, an online travel shopping company that has merged together various websites including Homestay, VacationRentals, and Hotels.com. So, in essence, AirBnB can be regarded as an alternative to Expedia!
I used VRBO for my Lake Tahoe visit and couldn’t have been happier!
Booking.com used to be the best hotel booking site, but they have expanded their operations to include apartments and vacation rentals.
This website has a more refined search filter, allowing you to narrow down on the ideal getaway based on location, price, and amenities required. Booking.com also often lists properties with lower prices than you will find on most other travel-shopping websites.
The advantage of Booking.com is that you can rent out homes and stay there without having to ever interact with the owner. Other options on this list, may require interactions (though many owners are going contactless, especially in the age of COVID).
Sonder combines the comfort of AirBnB with the luxuries of staying at a well-serviced hotel. Unlike most vacation rentals, the listings here are bought and managed by Sonder, so you can avoid the trouble of dealing with nosy home owners.
With Sonder you can rest assured that your lodging will be stocked with fresh towels, toiletries, and even coffee, just like the basics available in a hotel room. They’ve also got a nifty app that can be used to order fresh amenities and that tells you the dining options nearby.
Sonder has 24/7 customer support you can reach out to even for something as simple as changing a light bulb.
Their aesthetic is something to be admired.
4. Kid & Coe
Started by a mom in 2013, Kid & Coe is the best site to find hotels and vacation rentals for families. Most rental spaces are built for adult occupation with little thought given to optimizing the home for kids, and Kid & Coe offers a solution.
This website helps parents find a rental with child-friendly amenities, like child gates, guard rails, and even high chairs. Some listings even offer backyards with a jungle gym or a mini playground.
Kid & Coe even recommends playgrounds, arcades, and other child-friendly locations and restaurants to visit in the area. The best part? You can narrow down your search based on your kid’s age, allowing you to find a child-friendly getaway that suits your requirements.
5. Plum Guide
Sometimes, the reviews on AirBnB can be misleading, with comments that rarely paint an accurate picture of the property in question.
The unintended side effect of these reviews is that guests arrive at a property only to find that the amenities that were promised are either damaged or absent altogether.
If you’re searching for high-quality vacation rentals with amenities intact, Plum Guide is the only place to look.
This website has a stringent filtering process, and sends over an official to interview the host and conduct a tour of the home, rating the property against several different criteria.
Specifications like shower pressure, quality of linen, interior decor, and even internet speed are taken into account and the property is only approved if it passes the selected criteria.
Of course, this means there are far fewer listings available on Plum Guide (only 5% of properties interviewed make the cut!), but you can rely on each property being top-notch in quality.
The Plum Guide leaves no stone unturned, ensuring that you find the perfect rental for your getaway.
All of this website’s listings can be found on Tripadvisor, giving Flipkey the exposure that it needs.
Flipkey may not have an extensive list of properties, like AirBnB, but it allows you to get really specific with your location and amenities.
For example, if you’re looking for a lodging located at the foothills of a mountain or with a balcony with an oceanic view, there’s no better place than Flipkey.
Another advantage of Flipkey is they offer the option of pet-friendly listings, making it the go to website for those travelling with their furry friends.
Unlike the other websites on this list, Homestay exclusively offers vacation rentals inhabited by the owners. So if you’re using Homestay to travel, you will be hosted by a local inhabitant of your travel destination.
This could mean an awkward meal or two, but it’s a culturally-enriching experience with your host giving you a run down of the city and the best places to visit, helping you make the most of your travel experience.
What to Consider When Booking
Now that you have a few alternatives to AirBnB, here are a few factors to consider when choosing a booking website.
The prime factor when cooking a vacation rental is the location of the rental and whether the property is situated in the area you want to be hosted in.
Is the area safe? Is it in close proximity to tourist attractions, parks, or other spaces you want to visit in the city? Is your listing near the public transport system so you can commute easily when you get there?
These are a few location-based questions you’ll want to keep in mind when searching for the perfect listing.
When booking a place, you want to take into account the aesthetic appeal of the lodging and its surroundings.
Websites like Flipkey give you the option of booking more scenic rooms while Sonder gives you a list of lodging in popular city locations.
The aesthetic appeal of the place and its surroundings play a key role in your travel experience, and it’s important to consider these when making a booking.
For solo travelers, lodging in an AirBnB or Homestay is often ideal, as there is the ability to rent rooms/beds as opposed to entire homes.
Those traveling with families and large groups will probably benefit more from listings on VRBO or Kids & Coe where rentals are better suited to multiple guests.
When you’re making a travel booking, it’s important to decide on a place with amenities that suit your requirements.
AirBnB is ideal for experiencing an authentic travel experience. It provides a safe space to return to every night when you’re done adventuring.
However, AirBnB isn’t the only options out there and, in fact, other options may be more suited to your specifications.
Spend time searching and narrow down on the ideal home for your trip as this is a key factor in your overall travel experience. You never know what you’ll find!
PS: though you may be looking for an alternative to AirBnB, I do think some of the AirBnB Experiences are worthwhile to check out. You can find some pretty cool local things to do by checking out the experience part of their site.