As vaccines are rolled out and cities open up, you're probably starting to think about where to take your first post-pandemic vacation. Whether you're trying to get as far from home as possible or you want to stay close and ease into it, an inevitable task is finding a place to stay.
In 2021, the traveler has more options than ever when it comes to finding a place. You could stay in a hotel room, a cottage, a treehouse, a beach bungalow, a yurt or even rent an RV — if you name it you can find it. Where does one even begin to look? There are dozens of sites offering up thousands of rental options, but finding the best vacation rental sites to can be quite the undertaking.
Some of the sites we scoured have everything you could ask for, while many hone in on one type of vacation. Regardless of what type of experience a site offers, each brings something unique to the table.
The Best for a Quiet Weekend: Getaway
Getaway is here to ensure city dwellers get the most out of their days off by providing its own quiet, remote dwellings just outside some of the biggest metropolitan areas in the US. The spaces are small and have relatively few amenities compared to other properties, but that is the point. Getaway puts an emphasis on unplugging and reconnecting with yourself and the outdoors, making for the perfect weekend recharge and reset.
The Best for Luxury Homes: Plum Guide
If you're looking to stay in a luxury home that has been rigorously vetted by an actual human being before being accepted, you need to check out Plum Guide. The site offers beautiful homes all over the world that are full of some of the most impressive features you can imagine and boast some of the most beautiful design you'll see. Some of the featured destinations on the website are the Hudson Valley in upstate New York, Joshua Tree, Charleston and more.
The Best for Family Space: Marriot Homes & Villas
For big families, sometimes staying in a hotel or apartment will drive everyone up the wall — never a welcome situation when on vacation. This is where Marriott Homes & Villas comes in. Marriott has used its extensive reach and resources to put together a network of entire homes for rent in some of the finest cities and towns in the world, including New York, Florence and Lake Tahoe.
The Best for an Outdoor Experience: Outdoorsy
Should you be looking for something a bit more mobile, Outdoorsy is your place. The RV rental specialist is ready to take you on your next great camping trip. Drop onto its site and you'll have luxury Class C RVs, smaller Class A campers, vans and camping trailers at your fingertips. That trip to Sedona or the Rocky Mountains is closer than ever.
The Best for an Urban Experience: Sonder
If you want a staycation or are interested in exploring a new city, Sonder is the place to find the ideal rental. The site emphasizes the neighborhood experience, with spaces intentionally dotted throughout some of the biggest and most exciting cities in the world. Featured on the site are stays in New York, London, New Orleans and more, but there are over 30 cities in total.
The Best for a Specific Dwelling: Vrbo
Cottages in the country, cabins in the woods, apartments in the city, beach houses on the shores — whatever type of dwelling you're looking for, Vrbo has it. Not only does Vrbo have it, but the site has divided up its home page with options for each type of stay, ensuring that you'll only get what you want to see and nothing else when you're searching.
The Best for a Beach Vacation: TripAdvisor
Ok, so we know that you can do just about anything on TripAdvisor, from getting the skinny on the next city you're visiting or where to eat on any given night. But we think TripAdvisor is one of the top sites to book a beach vacation owing to its more than 20,000 rentals in California, Hawaii and Florida alone.
The Best for the Whole Package: Expedia
Just seeing the word Expedia probably triggers a jingle in your mind that you heard over and over in the aughts: "Expedia. Dot commmmm." No? Ok, maybe that's just us. Expedia is more than just a single website now — it has an entire network of travel websites and vacation deals that are there to help you find the best package for you and your family, from the flight to the car to the hotel and back home again.
The Best for Hidden Camp Site Gems: HipCamp
One of the worst things about getting ready for a big camping trip is going onto the .gov website and realizing that all of the spots are taken for the entire summer. Well, thanks to Hipcamp's huge network of campsites, you can find the right place for you and your squad, pretty much whenever you want to take a trip. Most of the sites are in smaller state parks, at RV parks or on private land. Many feature something you won't find at any other campsite, including treehouses, yurts and teepees tailor-made for a fun trip.
The Best for Vacation Inspo: Airbnb
If you're not sure where you want to go but know you're ready for a trip, just drop by the Airbnb homepage and you'll see a collection of drool-worthy dwellings nestled in some epic vistas. Even if you think you have an idea of where you're headed, Airbnb invariably inspires a second thought. Spend some time scrolling through the various spaces and adventures Airbnb offers and you'll have a healthy list of options.
If you're looking to find the best budget options across all aspects of your planning — whether it is flights, cars, lodging or the whole package — look to Travelocity and Orbitz for a powerful search engine that will leave you with a huge variety to choose from, no matter where in the world you're headed. You may notice that these brands are both owned by Expedia, so it is not super likely that you'll find unique deals, but if you do have a preference for either site, you aren't going to lose out on top savings by using them.