“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.”

Earl Wilson

If you’re looking to shake up your travel routine, why not put the brakes on staying in a hotel and rent a property through a travel-rental website instead?

These sites offer a variety of accommodations, such as a one-bedroom in Nashville, a villa in Tuscany, a castle in Scotland, or a beachfront bungalow in the Caribbean. This type of lodging can often be more cost-effective (especially for groups) and are often in less touristy areas, providing a local appeal.

Ready to book? Here are some top vacation-rental websites to book the trip of your dreams.


The behemoth in the vacation-rental industry is HomeAway. It offers more than two million places to stay in 190 countries, so that’s a lot of properties! Whether you’re looking for a traditional home — say a summer rental on the Jersey Shore, or something more offbeat like a treehouse lodging — you’ll find it with HomeAway. You can narrow down your search by applying filters (price, ratings, number of bedrooms, etc.) and book directly with the owner.


Though only founded in 2008, it’s hard to imagine the vacation-rental landscape without Airbnb, which offers more than five million listings in 191 countries (think Lisbon, NYC, Tokyo — even Cuba!). Book the entire property or a shared/private spare room in a home with the host present. Though known for being very cost-effective, the company recently introduced Airbnb Plus for those willing to pay for more premium lodgings.


Owned by TripAdvisor, FlipKey is another vacation-rental website available to travelers. The site offers 300,000 rentals in more than 11,000 cities, ranging from basic cabins to high-end condos. Check out its top rental destinations list — the most recent one included domestic destinations like Cape Cod and San Diego, and foreign ones, such as Barcelona and Paris. Rental reviews are based on TripAdvisor’s “Excellent to Terrible” model.

Wimco Villas

Wimco Villas, a leading villa-rental specialist, is known for its many Caribbean properties, including ones in the Turks and Caicos, Barbados, Anguilla, and especially St. Barth’s, where it represents more than 200 villas alone. Many of its properties, ranging from one to eight bedrooms, come with perks like pools, ocean views, tennis courts, and staff. Cabo San Lucas and the south of France are some of the other glamorous destinations offered.

Abercrombie & Kent Villas

The luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent, which runs escorted trips all over the world, offers hand-picked villa rentals in Europe’s dreamiest destinations. Properties on its roster include an 18th-century farmhouse in Provence, a Swiss ski chalet in Zermatt, and a hilltop estate on a private vineyard in Andalusia. If money is no object, splurge on a villa in its Black Collection, an annual list featuring 40 or so of the most exclusive properties.