Banff. Bend. Playa del Carmen. Leavenworth. Whistler. These are among the places we have visited while staying in vacation rentals thanks to our family travel planner, my wife Rachel Peters. While she’s not available to be your travel planner, keep reading and learn some of what she knows about the vacation rental market gleaned from managing our condo outside Sandpoint.

One example of her handiwork is a recent trip to Whistler-Blackcomb. We spent five nights in a three-bedroom condo the week before Christmas. It was a five-minute walk to the village and the kitchen was better stocked than our home. One drawer held more Keurig pods than I’d seen in one place outside of Costco. There was laundry, television, indoor parking, and a hot tub. The cost: $12 a night. That’s a bit deceptive since we traded a week’s stay at our condo. However, the others have yet to take us up on the trade, so maybe it will stay at $12 a night.

That summer we spent a week near Leavenworth. Rachel found an A-frame on a wooded bluff above Peshastin Creek for just over $100 a night. While the cabin was on the rustic side, it had wi-fi (but no cell service). The dogs romped in the creek while we drank our morning coffee or afternoon beer. Barbecuing overlooking the creek meant home-cooked meals with a view. The only thing missing was laundry, so we used the kitchen sink.

Photo of pool by Shallan Knowles.

Tropical vacation rentals with a pool turns into a private paradise. // Photo: Shallan Knowles

I could keep going, but you get the picture. This is the age of Airbnb, Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO), FlipKey, HomeAway, HomeToGo, HomeExchange and more apps and websites than one can track. One of these may be the way to book lodging for your next trip. Vacation rentals offer flexibility whether you book a room, condo, or house. You can choose between the heart of the city, a quiet neighborhood, or the boondocks. Plus, no staff to tip as you schlep your baggage and take out the trash.

Vacation rentals are not for everyone or every trip. If you want your bed made-up or would rather dine out, you can probably book a hotel or motel for about the same price as an Airbnb room. Vacation rentals often work better for larger groups, people traveling with kids or pets, those wanting functional kitchens, and people who stay more than a few days. If you are embarrassed by clothing and gear lying about, or empty bottles filling the trash, consider a vacation rental.

Whistler-Blackcomb readily illustrates the many options. A search for the second week in July (hiking, golf, or mountain biking anyone?) pulls up more than 200 Airbnb listings, from $100 a night to over $900. The cheaper listings on Airbnb are often a single room, but you never know.

A VRBO search for Whistler during that time brings up over 300 options with prices starting near $200. Both sites calculate cleaning and service fees so you know the full cost up front. Unlike hotels, taxes are generally included in the base fee. The one fee that rarely changes is the cleaning fee, whether it’s one night, one week, or one month. Next time you are planning time away, consider a vacation rental. Chances are, you’ll be glad you did. //