Where to spend the holidays in 2019

Vacasa's guide to hosting your celebration in a vacation rental

Last year, more than 112.5 million Americans traveled over the holiday season, and experts anticipate this record will be broken in 2019.

So, where are all these folks headed, and what are they planning to do on their trips? We partnered with Allison+Partners and surveyed 1,017 Americans above the age of 18 to get some answers.

Family enjoying a car ride


of travelers plan to venture outside of their home state for the holiday season.

Friends raising their glasses to celebrate their holiday meal


of travelers, when given a set of options to choose from, said their primary purpose for holiday travel is to spend quality time with loved ones.

Okay, so most of you want to spend the holidays someplace new with those you care most about. Whether you’re dreaming of escaping the chilly weather on a sun-soaked beach, or reveling in a winter wonderland, we’ve got some ideas to make your holiday vacation the best yet.

1. Clean less, relax more.

Tidying up after houseguests can be stressful and exhausting—especially after you’ve spent hours preparing a holiday meal. Luckily, when you check out of a professionally managed vacation rental, you’ll have very little to clean, since housekeeping is included in your reservation costs.

2. Host your gathering on neutral territory.

Forget bickering over who gets to host the celebration (and all the guests). A vacation rental is the perfect blank canvas for any holiday tradition—and for starting new ones.

3. Discover new things in special places while traveling with loved ones.

Above all, this is our favorite reason to spend the holidays at a vacation rental. Let your group feel like locals in the town you’re visiting. After enjoying an activity-filled day, you get to cook meals with friends and family, huddle around the dining table for a rousing game of cards, then cozy up next to the fireplace together.

We used a comprehensive set of Vacasa and partner data to evaluate combined occupancy of our U.S. markets during Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, spanning 2017, 2018, and what we have on the books so far for 2019.

Then, our travel experts hand-picked some of our most popular locations and nearby hidden gems to rank the top 10 holiday vacation rental destinations.

1. Book your getaway in advance.

If you wait too long to book a vacation rental, your options may be seriously limited and prices could go through the roof. Reserve your vacation rental as early as possible; aim for no later than one month out from your planned travel date. And, make sure there’s enough room⁠—and beds!⁠—in the home for everyone.

2. Check the policies.

Once you have your vacation rental locked in, make sure you and everyone in your group knows what time to check in and check out. If you’re thinking of bringing a big item like a tree or a wreath, consider how it will be disposed of. Most companies or hosts will charge extra if it’s left behind.

3. Cover the basics.

Most vacation rental kitchens are stocked with basic cooking supplies such as pots, pans, dishes, and utensils. Talk to your vacation rental company ahead of time to determine exactly what you’ll need to bring. Think dinner settings, spices, seasonings, serving plates, Tupperware, and tinfoil. Check whether your rental has an oven—especially one that’s large enough to hold a turkey!

4. Locate a nearby store.

Even if you’ve crossed everything off your packing checklist, it seems there is always something left behind. Find the closest grocery or convenience store in case you need to make a last-minute run, and don’t forget to check holiday hours.

5. Double down on decor, and consider the space.

When spending the holidays away from home, it’s nice to bring a little of your own style into your rental. In addition to special trinkets like stockings, a menorah, and Grandma’s champagne flutes, bring your own decor to make the rental feel more like home. Plus, gauge how guests will interact with these items and where they’ll spend their time. Look into the dinner seating in particular to ensure everyone will be comfortable at the table.

6. Don’t forget post-dinner fun.

While dinner may seem like the focal point of any holiday gathering, spending quality time together after meals is also important. Factor in which vacation rental amenities will excite your guests, such as ping-pong, foosball, an in-home movie theater, a hot tub, a fire pit, a porch swing, and more.

7. Make sure gifts get to the intended recipient.

If you’re shipping holiday gifts to your vacation rental, timing can be tricky—especially considering the high volume of packages during the season, combined with dodgy weather conditions. Use pickup centers through FedEx or UPS, or try locker services.

Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

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