Homeward Bound: 6 Top Vacation House Rental Sites

Homeward Bound: 6 Top Vacation House Rental Sites

This post originally appeared on All You.

According to STR Global, a company that tracks hotel-industry data, Americans spend an average of about $114 for a hotel per night. If you’re looking for something a little more like home, though, you might consider renting out a vacation home to have the full benefits of privacy and household amenities with your R&R.

With services like Airbnb and HomeExchange gaining popularity, housing swaps and homeowners renting out their spaces for vacations are becoming all the rage. And they can save you a ton, too!

Here are six housing rental sites to check out and find your new home away from home — without stretching your budget.


How does it work? Fresh off of its new redesign, Airbnb allows vacationers to browse rental homes listed by residents in their destination cities. Just choose from 34,000 cities in 190 countries worldwide, find a listing and get in touch with the owner. Depending on the listing, you can either book the dates immediately, request a booking from the owner or send a message to the owner to ask them more questions about your stay.

How much does it cost? The service is free to use for travelers. Hosts can list their homes for free, and they pay a 3 percent fee after receiving a successful booking.

Bonus tip: If you request a booking and the owner hasn’t responded within 24 hours, your request to book expires. We suggest only sending out one request at a time to make sure you don’t end up accidentally double-booking a stay. However, if you do, you can retract one of the requests without penalty.


How does it work? VRBO, or Vacation Rentals by Owner, is part of the HomeAway brand. Choose your destination (international cities are also available) and travel dates to choose from a selection of booking options. You can either book right away, or you can inquire for more information from the host about the place before you commit and make any payments.

How much does it cost? The service has no booking fees, and it is free for travelers. To list a property, homeowners can either start an annual subscription for $349, a 10 percent fee for each booking or a 13 percent fee for each booking with the help of a professional listing.

Bonus tip: VRBO suggests inquiring on three or more properties at a time so you can increase your chances of booking with a place you love.


How does it work? Like VRBO, VacationRentals.com is a part of the HomeAway brand and offers 35,000 vacation rentals to choose from. This particular site specializes in rentals offering special deals and discounts, especially last-minute offers for family-friendly beach houses and condo rentals. You can search by entering your destination and travel dates, or look around and use the interactive map to find the best deals in different regions.

How much does it cost? Booking is free for travelers. To list a property, annual subscriptions to the service start at $199.

Bonus tip: Sign up for the site’s newsletters, including updates about last-minute deals, destination deals or travel interest deals.


How does it work? This housing swap site’s tagline is “Travel Anywhere, Live Like a Local, Stay for Free.” First, add your own property listing. Then you can either seek out places in your destination city, or wait to hear back from other travelers interested in visiting your neck of the woods. Once you’ve been matched, you can arrange an exchange on an agreed-upon date.

How much does it cost? To join the exchange, you need a subscription to the service, which is available for $9.95 a month for 12 months. If you don’t do an exchange in your first year, you can continue membership for a second year for free.

Bonus tip: Still deciding on a destination? Find an exchange based on your interests, such as gourmet paradise, golf trips, family fun and more.

Love Home Swap

How does it work? This site prides itself as being “The world’s most flexible travel club” with three main ways to travel. You can either arrange a two-way home exchange where you stay at someone’s house while they stay at yours. The swaps can be either at the same time or non-simultaneous. You can also earn points when another member stays at your home while you’re away (not on an exchange), and these saved points can be exchanged for free stays in others’ homes. The last option is to rent out your own home while you’re away on your own vacation.

How much does it cost? Subscription to Love Home Swap starts $20 a month for the silver level, $23 a month for gold and $34 a month for platinum if you join before July 31. You can test out the service with a free 14-day trial period.

Bonus tip: If you’re a frequent traveler, you might want to take advantage of the unlimited swaps and travel bookings available with your membership fee.


How does it work? GuestToGuest is a social network connecting residents around the world to make for easier and more affordable travel. You can organize exchanges in two ways. First, you can do it without GuestPoints by arranging a reciprocal stay, which don’t have to be simultaneous. The second method requires you to earn GuestPoints. You’ll stay at one person’s house on a non-reciprocal exchange and “pay” using GuestPoints. Your host can then use these GuestPoints to travel to other destinations.

How much does it cost? This service is free, with the option of opting in to two paid services.

Bonus tip: You can earn GuestPoints by hosting others in your home without a reciprocal exchange, referring friends to the service and liking the service on Facebook.

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