AirBNB vs. HomeAway vs. Housetrip: Vacation Home Rental Services Compared

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Vacation rental homes are a great way to enjoy a vacation anywhere in the world. By renting a home where you spend your vacation gives you much more freedom than a hotel would. A vacation rental home is perfect for vacations that take you to remote places


AirBNB is a company that helps you find a vacation rental home and make the reservations at many vacation destinations. AirBNB lists vacation rental homes across the world in 192 countries and more than 34,000 cities and this also includes 600 castles. AirBNB was founded in 2008 and they are based in San Francisco.

AirBNB Vacation Home Rental Services

AirBNB offers several ways to help travelers and vacationers find a vacation home wherever they need to.

AirBNB Neighborhoods

AirBNB Neighborhoods will help you find the right neighborhood in large cities. Many cities are just so large it is hard to know what part of town you need to stay in. If you are traveling to a city for an extended business trip or vacation, it is helpful to know the various parts of town and neighborhoods that will be closest to where you need to be.

AirBNB Neighborhoods has neighborhoods for 18 large cities including New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Berlin, London, Sydney, Berlin and Buenos Aires.

For each city, AirBNB Neighborhoods will explain what the locals love and what the locals complain about in each neighborhood. In New York City for example, they show 60 different neighborhoods with tag words that describe each neighborhood including Nolita, Red Hook and Upper East Side.

How AirBNB Home Vacation Home Rental Service Works

On the AirBNB main page, you can enter in the city or location you want to rent a vacation home, the dates you will be arriving and departing and how many people will rent the vacation home.

You can filter your searches by price, property type, neighborhoods and offered amenities like pet policies, internet service, cable and more. You can look at each vacation rental home on maps and view photos of the vacation rental home and property.

Once you have found several vacation homes you are interested in, you can click on the Contact button and contact the property owner and ask them whatever questions you have. When you choose the vacation home you want, you can click on the Book button and make your vacation rental home reservation.

AirBNB Cancel and Refund Policies

There are many reasons vacation plans can change. AirBNB has cancellation and refund policies for these instances.

AirBNB allows the host of the vacation rental home four types of cancellation policies, flexible, moderate, strict and super strict.

  • Flexible offers a full refund 1 day prior to arrival except fees.
  • Moderate allows a full refund 5 days prior to arrival except fees.
  • Strict will give you a 50% refund up until 1 week prior to your arrival except fees.
  • Super Strict allows for a 50% refund up until 30 days prior to arrival except fees.

When there are extenuating circumstances, AirBNB can override the host's cancellation and refund policies.

AirBNB Fees

AirBNB charges a 6-12% service fee every time a reservation is booked through them. The service fee is added to the guest's payments. These are the fees that are not refundable in the above cancellation and refund policies.

AirBNB for Vacation Home Owners

Hosts can also rent their vacation homes out as rentals on AirBNB. It is free to list your vacation home rental on AirBNB and you decide on the rent you want to charge. You set the terms, length of stay and other policies. Hosts will pay a fee of 3% for each reservation. 


HomeAway is a vacation home rental service that boasts of over 570,000 vacation home rental listings in 171 countries. Located in Austin, Texas, HomeAway was founded by Brian Sharples and Carl Sheperd in 2005.

HomeAway Vacation Home Rental Services

You can search for a vacation home rental on HomeAway in a variety of ways. You can use their search engine and search by destination, property ID or keyword. You can also search by available dates, state, city, continent, top vacation destinations and browsing vacation rentals around the world.

HomeAway also has great travel ideas and tips for different locations and events around the world such as New Years in Las Vegas, Best January Beach Vacations, Après Skiing, 2014 FIFA World Cup and many more.

How HomeAway Vacation Home Rental Service Works

It is easy to find a vacation home rental on HomeAway. I found the easiest way to find the area you will be vacationing in is to click on the map of the state or country. For example, if you are planning a ski vacation in Colorado, you can click on the map for Colorado and you will then be presented with a choice of regions in Colorado.

You will see a listing of vacation rental homes in the specific area with photos, how many bedrooms and bathrooms, customer reviews, per night cost and minimum stay requirement.

Clicking on any listing will give you much more information such as amenities, more photos and a complete description of the vacation rental home and area. You can message the host or book the reservation.

HomeAway Cancellation and Refund Policies

HomeAway gives the host four refund options to choose from:

  • Relaxed offers a 100% refund for bookings cancelled 14 days before the start of the stay and a 50% refund up to 7 days.
  • Moderate gives travelers a 100% refund for cancellations up to 30 days before the start of the stay and a 50% refund up to 14 days.
  • Firm gives a full refund up to 60 days before the start of the stay and a 50% refund up to 30 days.
  • Strict refunds 100% for cancellations up to 60 days before the start of the stay.

HomeAway Traveler Fees

HomeAway only mentions that there are fees for vacation home owners that list their property for rent on the website.

HomeAway for Vacation Home Owners

Home owners can also list their property for rent on HomeAway. They have software that a home owner can use, webinars and many helpful FAQs for property owners that would like to list their properties as vacation home rentals.

HomeAway has the following plans for vacation home hosts:

  • Annual subscription starts at $349 with a 0% booking fee if you list the vacation home yourself.
  • You pay $0 upfront with a 10% per booking fee if you list by yourself.
  • You Pay 0% upfront with a 13% per booking fee with their professional help.

HomeAway Property Listings Discount


Housetrip was founded in 2009 by Arnaud Bertrand and Junjun Chen who met while studying hospitality management at Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland. They have offices in London, Lausanne and Lisbon. Housetrip currently lists 293,626 vacation home rentals worldwide.

Housetrip Vacation Home Rental Services

Housetrip lists vacation home rentals all over the world including exotic places like Marrakech, Sardinia, Sicily, Krakow and Istanbul. You can search for a location and vacation home by entering in the location into their main search engine or browsing their vacation spots by city, country or popular UK destinations.

When you click on the destination city you are looking for, you will see a list of available vacation home rentals for that area. The listing will show distance from the main city if it is not in the city, property size, internet service, how many bedrooms and bathrooms and how many people the home will sleep.

Clicking on a listing will give you a more detailed description and the ability to check the availability of the vacation rental home for the time period you will be staying there.

Housetrip Cancellation and Refund Policies

Housetrip gives the host four cancellation and refund polices choices:

  • Relaxed policy offers an 85% refund if the guest cancels up to 2 weeks before the start of the stay or a 42.5% refund if they cancel up to 1 week before the stay.
  • Moderate gives an 85% refund if the guest cancels up to 1 month before the start of the stay or a 42.5% refund if the cancellation is 2 weeks before the stay.
  • Firm refunds 85% if the guest cancels up to 2 months before the start of the stay and a 42.5% refund for cancellations up to 1 month.
  • Strict refunds 42.5% if the guest cancels up to 2 months before the start of the stay.

All refund policies state that cancellations must be made by 12 noon CET (Central European Time) on the appropriate day. Central European Time is 1 hour ahead of GMT (+01:00).

Housetrip Fees

Housetrip service fees range from 10% to 20% of the host fee which are added to the host's rate.

Housetrip for Vacation Home Listings

As a property owner, you can list your vacation home on their website for rent. It is free to list your vacation home for rent. Housetrip will add their service fees to the top of what you rental rate is.

Vacation Home Rental Services Conclusion

All three vacation home rental companies are about the same when it comes to finding a vacation home to rent. AirBNB has their AirBNB Neighborhood service which is great for helping find the right location in big cities. AirBNB has many locations to choose from including 600 castles which would make a great vacation rental home.

HomeAway has the most vacation home locations and rental listings to choose from and they have great travel and vacation articles and tips for many holidays and events. Housetrip, located in Europe has plenty of locations worldwide to choose a vacation rental home including some exotic places.

All three vacation home rental services will let home owners list their homes on their website as vacation home rentals with helpful FAQs for those wanting the extra income from vacation home rentals.