In our hot–off–the–presses May/June 2012 issue (find it on newsstands now!), we investigate the growing domestic vacation–rentals market, parsing the differences between some of the biggest players on the American scene and weighing the benefits of springing for a whole house instead of a hotel room. And while there’s a lot to be said for going with one of the big guys—Airbnb.com, Wyndham Rentals, FlipKey, and the HomeAway empire (which includes HomeAway.com, VRBO.com, and VacationRentals.com), there’s a whole world of niche web sites catering to all kinds of travelers. Here are just a few of the specialized sites to consult if you want someone else to do the filtering for you.
For savvy snowbirds
What they list: Nearly 1,000 beach houses, condos, and cabins in Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, and North and South Carolina.
For outdoorsy adventurers
What they list: Private backyards (mostly in the U.K., France, and Belgium) where you can pitch a tent for pennies (or nothing at all) per night.
For Down–Under devotees
What they list: More than a thousand homes—of all shapes and sizes—throughout Australia and New Zealand.
For Hawaii habitués
What they list: Swanky properties—many with pools, porches, and ocean views—on all the Hawaiian islands.
For friendly Francophiles
What they list: Apartment rentals in Paris, along with B&Bs;, cooking classes, and opportunities to attend a dinner in a French family's home.
For old–fashioned romantics
What they list: Historic properties in Great Britain, from a five–room, medieval manor house in Devon to a two–bedroom stone Skipper's Cottage in Cornwall.
For south–bound design lovers
What they list: High–end apartments in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay—all outfitted with stylish interiors and located in happening neighborhoods.
For city slickers
What they list: Urban–chic apartments in London and New York, each one vetted personally by the site's owners.
For die–hard deal–seekers
What they list: Deeply discounted timeshare sublets in Mexico, Florida, and Las Vegas.
For ski trippers
What they list: Professionally managed rentals in America's top ski destinations (think Jackson Hole, Park City, and Aspen), plus a few beachy spots, too.
For enthusiasts of all stripes
What they list: Luxury villas you can search by theme—say, wine regions, tennis trips, kid–friendly destinations, or celebrity magnets—with or without a destination (the Caribbean, U.S., Europe) in mind.
For living like a local all over the world
What they list: Private rooms or whole apartments rented by their owners; like Airbnb.com, but with a more international slant.
13. Your Tuscany
For Tuscan sun–worshippers
What they list: Seaside villas, Tuscan farmhouses, and Florence apartments hand–picked by Val D'Orcia agriturismo owner Andrea Giurato.
Do you have any favorite vacation–rentals sites? Share them in the comments!
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