Score the Perfect Vacation Rental in 2011

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Risser says the top 10 destinations on his radar are California, Florida, Hawaii, Alaska, New York, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Maine, and Texas. If you're planning to visit a high-demand destination this year, the earlier you plan, the better.

If you've booked rentals in the past, you may have been locked into a full week's stay. That won't necessarily be the case with with your next rental. "Many vacation rentals are increasingly available now on a nightly basis as opposed to a minimum seven-night booking, which had been the standard in the industry in the past," says Ballotti. You may find some flexibility, especially during a destination's low or shoulder-season when renters are looking to sell inventory. Conversely, expect minimum-night requirements to be stricter during peak travel periods.

Finally, make your mobile device work for you. "We released [Airbnb's] iPhone app in November ... to make using [our service] even easier for hosts and travelers alike," says Chesky. "Hosts can use the app to respond to inquiries, accept reservations, and manage their listings while they are away from their computers. Travelers are by nature on the move and the app allows them to run a one-click search to locate available properties on a map, view or manage itineraries on the go, and book a space to stay with Airbnb no matter where they are in the world." HomeAway and TripAdvisor also have mobile application features, and you can expect more companies to follow suit.

Sarah Pascarella is a Senior Editor for Smarter Travel. She also writes the Sarah's Travel Tips column, in which she shares her advice on travel issues including booking, planning, comfort, safety, and convenience. This article originally appeared on SmarterTravel.

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