April 5, 2016
In a few days, I’m traveling to Palm Springs for vacation. The land of golf carts, Frank Sinatra, retirees and sunshine. Yes, Coachella will also be in full swing next week, but that was purely a coincidence. So how, and why, did I end up spring breaking here? Simple: Airbnb, and the attractiveness of living in a home filled with shag carpet, pop art, animal prints and mid-century modern furniture for a week. For the last three years, vacation rental sites have transformed the way I have approached traveling, and I believe they are influencing the rise in popularity — or revival — of certain vacation destinations.
Beyond the more popular reasons for staying in rental-by owner-properties — such as cost, ease of use, personal profiles and reviews — these sites take you to places that can be off the tourist track in a city you have your heart set on, or to an unexpected destination altogether. When booking a trip, I’m finding myself starting with home styles or vacation type before ever narrowing in on a location. This approach has taken me to the desert in Sedona, a beach at the tip of Long Island, and most recently to an Amish farm in the middle of Wisconsin. As someone who watches “Fixer Upper” habitually and re-arranges my living room for fun, vacation sites have become addicting. I have a blast scrolling through different home styles, as much as studying the shopping, art or restaurant districts in a possible vacation city. When you go down the Airbnb rabbit hole, you never know where you will end up.
Back to Palm Springs. The city is experiencing a revival — hearkening back to when it was one of the most popular getaway destinations in America. Coincidentally, the area is filled with some of the finest displays of mid-century modern residences, many of which are now marketed as rental units. Over the last half-decade, home-rental websites have uncorked hundreds of hidden gems, which have attracted a whole new generation of travelers to the region. With thousands of properties available on these sites, you can escape to a different word, albeit for just a short while. Renting a home from the owner adds some adventure to the experience, and you don’t always know what you are walking into. If you find yourself struggling to figure out where you want to vacation, try starting with architecture, vacation type or simply just the vacation vibe you’re looking for, instead of geography. You may be pleasantly surprised with where the search may take you.