6 Best Airbnb Alternatives

vacation rental

Written by Shannon O’Donnell on

Shannon O'Donnell is a long-term traveler who has been on the road since 2008 and has lived everywhere from Southeast Asia to Barcelona, where she now calls home. She travels slowly and supports responsible tourism along the way, winning numerous awards for her work advocating for the communities impacted by travel and tourism.

6 Best Airbnb Alternatives

Airbnb is a great rental option all over the world, but it does have competitors. These Airbnb alternatives offer a different selection, sometimes green booking options, and more.

Whether you’re planning a leisurely cross-country American road trip or an adventurous girls getaway, the thought of lodging has crossed your mind and Airbnb was undoubtedly a consideration. For accommodations ranging from the homey to the regal, the vacation rental company is monolithic in its dominance of today’s travel scene. But, you may be surprised to hear, it is no longer the only game in town. In fact, some Airbnb alternatives are downright amazing—offering intriguing, curated collections of memorable stays. Plus, due to the sheer volume of Airbnb offerings and the popularity it has amassed, sometimes Airbnb can be disappointing, or just not as great a deal as you’d hoped. Here are some great Airbnb alternatives that just might offer the perfect stay for your next trip. 


1. The Plum Guide

Just like you always want for the juiciest fruit in the bin, so does the discerning traveler want the best of the best when it comes to vacation stays. The Plum Guide hand-picks fewer than five percent of applying vacation homes to feature, scrutinizing more than 150 criteria in the areas of hospitality, cleanliness, and luxury. If you don’t have the time or inclination to pore over hundreds of generic Airbnb listings to scour reviews, leaning back on the exacting standards of the good folks at Plum Guide can be a shortcut to vacation bliss. With a highly curated list of properties throughout the U.S. and around the world, this is a top alternative that will have you ready to pack your duffel and hit the road.



2. FlipKey

A “vacation home marketplace” so good it was purchased by Trip Advisor, FlipKey has the cred you are looking for when planning a trip. Superb filtering options make this a great tool for vacationers who know exactly what they want: the precise number of bedrooms/bathrooms, amenities, and luxury level. If you’re browsing for your next great adventure, you can easily pinpoint your next destination with options ranging from “coastal” to “big city” to “beach getaway.” If you have the soul of burning chaos, there’s one feature that wins out over Airbnb. Simply pull up the “trending destinations” list and point to the screen with your eyes closed! You’re guaranteed to land on a great property in a fun location.


3. Sonder

Sonder may be the discerning vacationer’s answer to long-term travel, partnering with real estate companies to list luxury rental units for travelers. Currently, the company only has lodgings in 30 cities spread throughout eight countries, but it is ever-expanding. Like some of its new-fangled rental brethren, Sonder boasts a minimum threshold of quality that will undoubtedly appeal to anyone who’s been burnt by a “pic didn’t match the reality” situation. Coffee machines, free WiFi, and abundant “everyday amenities” are included in every unit, which is professionally cleaned in between guests. That’s a real win if you’re traveling carry-on and like to keep your bags pared down to the minimum. On top of all that, consistent zero-contact check-ins are a real plus in this day and age.


4. Sabbatical Homes

Are you a student, professor, or other academic looking for temporary lodging? Sabbatical Homes was initially created to meet the needs of scholars on—wait for it—sabbatical, but now everyone is welcome to use the service. Given the dramatic rise in digital nomadism and remote work, this is a great option for those taking a longer break. Academics save the most on this site, which caters to both short- and medium-term rentals for “minds on the move.” This is definitely a niche option, but one with a lot of potential.


5. Outdoorsy

The reality is that, nowadays, more adventurers than ever are choosing outdoor-oriented vacations for convenience and safety. Outdoorsy is a hookup between would-be road-trippers and RV owners, from classic Airstreams to modern campers replete with every convenience. The open road is calling, and you no longer need to commit to the expense and upkeep of your own mobile home when visiting national parks this year. Why not just rent one instead? Packing an RV comes with its own sets of challenges for travelers, though, so if you’re going that route invest in some packing cubes to save space and review our guide to packing a campervan.



6. Boutique Homes

Have a penchant for design? Be ready to swoon over the picturesque, unique abodes available for rent on this site. Rentals must be invited to join Boutique Homes, meaning that there’s no way for scheming hosts to offer up a ratty couch and nothing else—this is real luxury and a true alternative to the types of offerings on Airbnb. From cozy cabins to extra-large homes akin to palaces, fit to suit your next family reunion, this aspirational collection of vacation rentals is fun to look at, even if you can’t swing the outsized price tags. 


Will your next vacation be in an isolated yurt or a family-friendly hostel? Either way, we’ve got you. Plan the perfect getaway, and stay safe out there!  Shannon O'Donnell