Know Before You Go: 7 Secrets of Vacation Rentals

A hotel room's not the only option.

— -- The vacation rental market is exploding; travelers tired of cramped hotel rooms and expensive rates are increasingly looking for alternative accommodations.

Phocuswright research showed online bookings of vacation rentals doubled between 2007 and 2012, and that by this year, "three in ten U.S. dollars spent on vacation rental will be booked online – an online travel penetration just a few points shy of the hotel and lodging segment."

But there's plenty of people still wary of sleeping in someone else's house on vacation. So we asked the experts at, which has more than 1 million listings, to share the reasons why a traveler might want to consider a rental home over a hotel room on their next trip. Here are the top seven:

1. You can save money. Vacation rentals offer twice the space at half the cost of a hotel room, HomeAway claims, and also come with "a host of budget-friendly amenities." Kitchens make it easy to prepare food rather than eating out every meal, while access to washers and dryers allow travelers to pack less and avoid paying hefty bag-check fees. Travelers also don’t have to worry about extra parking or Wi-Fi fees that can show up on hotel bills.

2. Skip renting a car and get a personal driver instead. HomeAway just announced Uber will be integrated into the HomeAway app so travelers can easily book transportation from the airport or while staying in their rental property.

3. Have groceries delivered directly to your door. "Once travelers walk into their vacation rental, the last thing they want to do is go food shopping," HomeAway said. "Instead, they’ll be able to access Instacart on the HomeAway app to have groceries quickly ordered online and delivered in as little as an hour in 15 cities.

4. Bring your pet. "For many, pets are an important part of their family and should be included in their travels. Fourteen percent of HomeAway travelers plan to bring a pet with them on their next vacation. There are more than 236,000 pet-friendly rentals available on"

5. Say “I Do." "Expand the search for your upcoming special event venue by considering a vacation rental," HomeAway said. "More than 20 percent of HomeAway travelers use a vacation rental for a special event. These "cele-cations" include everything from weddings (29 percent) and birthdays (22 percent) to anniversaries (18 percent) and reunions (7 percent)."

6. Sleep in a castle … or in the trees. "There are tons of offbeat places you can rent, such as a wine barrel, airplane, hobbit house, caboose, treehouse or castle."

7. Live like a local. Ultimately, renting a vacation rental allows travelers to take in the local flair. "Go ahead and shop, dine and live like the locals for a more authentic travel experience."