6 safer, expert-backed ways to take a vacation during the pandemic, from road trips to private vacation homes and remote campsites
Despite the ongoing pandemic, summer is in full swing and many US travelers are eager to get out of their homes and hit the road, but safely. If you want to take a safer vacation during COVID, whether in summer or later this year, we've compiled several ideas based on expert advice, meticulous research, and highly-curated lodging choices that might make it easier to follow social distancing. From beaches and mountains to lakes and islands, as well as private vacation homes, remote hotels, and road trip essentials, these are all close to home vacation options to consider during coronavirus.
Table of Contents With summer in full swing and many states easing restrictions around the novel coronavirus, US travelers are eager to get out of their homes and hit the road — safely. For those of us wondering if it is safe to travel right now, the answer depends on many variables, namely, how you plan to do so, where you want to go, the rates of infection in your chosen destination, and your anticipated behavior once you arrive. To help determine the risks associated with each mode of travel, Insider Reviews reached out to experts including infectious disease and ER doctors, cleaning specialists, travel industry professionals, and representatives from major rental cars, hotels, Airbnb, and transportation organizations, to reveal both the risks and best practices associated with various forms of travel and lodging during an ongoing pandemic. Of course, without a vaccine, it's nearly impossible to guarantee any place other than your home is safe. But with a few tweaks, it is possible to lower risks associated with travel. Just remember, the pandemic is an evolving situation and it's crucial to follow guidelines set forth by organizations such as the CDC and WHO, and practice safety measures, no matter where you go, including wearing a mask, washing your hands, and maintaining social distancing. If you do want to take a safe vacation during COVID, whether in summer or later this year, we've compiled several ideas based on expert insight that suggests travel this year will stick close to home, with travelers choosing safer travel alternatives to traditional choices. Think regional road trips over far-flung flights, lodging that prioritizes hotels with stringent COVID policies, and private home rentals instead of crowded resorts. Both Airbnb and Vrbo have already seen an uptick in bookings compared to this same time period last year. From beaches and mountains to lakes and islands, as well as private vacation home rentals, remote hotels, and how to prepare for a road trip, we've compiled the following list of close to home vacation ideas during coronavirus. Travel looks different right now, but it's still ready and willing to welcome you as safely as possible. Here are 6 ways to take a safe vacation during COVID: Book a socially distant hotel stay We already know that most major hotel chains have announced wide-reaching new cleaning policies made in combination with health experts. These policies focus on social distancing and contact-free transactions such as virtual check-in and out, digital keys, limited dining, and more. However, the experts we interviewed still feel that the answer to the question 'Are hotels safe during coronavirus' is highly subjective and depends on whether an individual also takes proper protective measures like wearing a mask, distancing, and disinfecting.
If you swear by staying in hotels, make sure the property has announced rigorous new cleaning measures, and look for signs they are implementing such procedures, from check-in to common spaces like the elevator or pool, and of course, in your room. Also consider more remote properties with plenty of wide-open spaces and outdoor-friendly amenities. To help facilitate a socially distant hotel stay, consider the following destinations and hotels, which all detail new COVID policies and are well-suited for a domestic getaway. Think wide stretches of beaches, remote mountain retreats, idyllic island escapes, and other places that embrace the great outdoors.
The best hotels in or near national parks The best US mountain resorts for all seasons The best beach hotels in the US The best hotels for families in the US The best eco-friendly and sustainable hotels in the US The best US island hotels that don't require a passport
Book a private vacation home rental to limit interactions with others After breaking down the risks of both hotels and vacation rentals such as Vrbo or Airbnb, the doctors and experts we spoke with agreed private vacation homes are likely safer than hotels because they come with fewer person-to-person interactions. "While there is no question hotels are working diligently to keep their hotels clean and sanitized, Airbnb has a huge advantage given that the renter is generally the only one occupying the property," said Dr. Neil Brown, K Health's chief diagnosis officer. "With Airbnb's new Enhanced Cleaning Initiative, the company provides a better option than public hotel spaces … Double-check to see if the host is participating in the program," he said.
As such, we detailed how to identify if an Airbnb participates in the new program, broke down the platform's COVID cancelation policies and Airbnb Plus program, and discussed the key differences between Airbnb and other vacation home rental sites such as Vrbo and HomeAway.
Airbnb announced vigorous new cleaning protocols for hosts in response to COVID-19. Here's how to know if the listing you're considering is participating — or not. Everything you need to know about how Airbnb's Extenuating Circumstances cancellation policy for COVID-19 works — including some key warnings for new bookings Everything to know about Airbnb Plus, including how listings are vetted, if they cost more, and if it's worth it Airbnb vs. Vrbo vs. HomeAway: Here's how each vacation home rental service works, plus their cancellation and coronavirus policies Are Airbnbs safe? We spoke to experts, a company representative, and an Airbnb host to share everything you should know before booking someone's home.
If you're ready to hit the road, we've included some of the best places in the US to rent a vacation home:
The best Airbnbs with pools The best Airbnbs in California The best Airbnbs on the Jersey Shore The best Airbnbs in Maine The best Airbnbs in Hawaii The best Airbnbs in Connecticut The best Airbnbs in Rhode Island The best Airbnbs in the Hamptons The best Airbnbs in Florida The best Airbnbs in Upstate New York The best Airbnbs in the Catskills The best Airbnbs in the Hudson Valley The best Airbnbs in Vermont The best Airbnbs the in Adirondacks
Plan a socially distant road trip during COVID Remember when planning a road trip simply meant queueing up a great playlist and stocking up on snacks? These days, they're one of the safer-seeming ways to travel while limiting exposure, especially compared to planes, trains, and other mass transit. And should you feel any discomfort, or worse, become sick, know that you can hop back in the car and drive home.
From expert-recommended precautions to take and products to pack, to getaways that are close to home, scenic drives, and more, here are our top tips and ways to hit the road this summer, and beyond:
6 of the top road trips in the US and where to stay along the way 10 scenic getaways across the US that are within a 1- to 4-hour drive from major cities — and the best hotel to book for each Are rental cars safe? The best car rental companies What to pack and how to prepare before planning a road trip this summer — 9 medical and hospitality experts weigh in with advice and tips How to drive through the Florida Keys on a socially distanced road trip according to experts, plus what to pack, recommended activities, the best hotels along the way, and what to do if someone gets sick
Camp somewhere remote If you want to get away and embrace nature, but feel uncomfortable checking into a hotel or private lodging, there are plenty of other outdoor options from camping to glamping that make it easy to avoid crowds. Book a home on wheels or pack your gear into the car and pitch a tent. These ideas all afford a charming level of rustic charm where you can control just how much, or little, you encounter the rest of the world.
The best glamping vacations in the US The best RV rentals The best camper van rentals 17 of the best campsites across the US for a scenic outdoor getaway After 20 years of camping trips big and small, I have my essential packing list down to a science — here's what I always bring
Consider safer alternatives to traditional travel Ultimately, if you plan to head out this summer, consider adapting your vacation plans in ways that provide safer alternatives that can help can reduce your risk of virus exposure while away from home. To come up with a list of safer approaches to air travel, ground transportation, lodging, activities, and more, we culled the advice from our interviews with experts — including medical, sanitization, and travel industry professionals.
Do note, however, that many public health and medical professionals (including some of those we talked to) still advise limiting nonessential travel in the pandemic, as it poses inherent risks. Here are four safer summer travel ideas based on expert advice — public charters over commercial flights, private home rentals over crowded resorts, and much more Work with a travel agent While many travelers previously booked travel independently, some are returning to travel agents. These seasoned professionals have spent years in the business and are well-equipped to help clients identify viable locations with vetted, flexible policies. They may also have better insights into new practices at specific hotels to help determine how clean and safe they will be, and whether facilities and amenities may be impacted. Their advice is to plan now, travel later (most of their clients are looking to travel between March and May of 2021), book refundable options, be aware of cleaning policies, try to travel domestically or close to home, opt for socially distant places, take advantage of deals, and assess your own comfort level with risk before booking. Read the full story on key takeaways to learn from travel agents and tour operators about how to book travel right now, and into next year. For more reporting on whether it's safe to travel right now, click a link below to jump directly to related coverage:
Is flying safe right now? Experts break down the risks associated with boarding a flight during COVID-19. Is it safe to stay in a hotel right now? An infectious disease doctor, a cleaning expert, and hotel reps all share what you should know before you check-in. Are Airbnbs safe? We spoke to experts, a company representative, and an Airbnb host to share everything you should know before booking someone's home. Which is safer: Airbnb or hotels? Here's what doctors say Are rental cars safe to drive right now? We talked to 3 leading experts to find out. Is it safe to travel by train during a pandemic? Doctors and cleaning experts weigh in, plus details on new protocols from Amtrak to minimize risks. Staying in a hotel will be very different post-pandemic — here are new safety and cleaning plans and precautions being implemented by every major hotel brand
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Important cancellation policies and dates for 2020 holiday travel: Marriott, Airbnb, Hilton, and more
Summary List Placement Despite the pandemic, many will likely consider holiday travel this year to visit...Summary List Placement Despite the pandemic, many will likely consider holiday travel this year to visit family and take deferred vacations after months of isolation. Cheap fares, hotel rates, and packages are also aiming to lure those who are comfortable with the risks associated with travel. If you're considering booking a great deal but want to watch and see what happens, it's important to understand cancellation policies. We compiled key 2020 holiday dates and cancellation policies for hotel brands, vacation rental platforms, and online booking sites. Read more: Is it safe to travel for the holidays? Here's what doctors, a microbiologist, and a travel pro told us. Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky The holiday travel season is going to look very different in 2020. Many people will be weighing whether they should go anywhere at all, not just because of safety, but because of social responsibility. And while some will stay home, others will still plan to travel by plane, train, or car to see loved ones after months of separation, or to take a long-anticipated vacation. After all, exceptionally low prices are being promoted right now on everything from flights to hotels and vacation packages, adding serious temptation. "In normal years, the holidays are one of the most expensive times of year to travel," explains Scott's Cheap Flights founder Scott Keyes. "That's because it's such a popular time not only to see family, but for many students, teachers, and families with kids, it may be one of the few coordinated vacation breaks they get. With all those people traveling at the same time, fares are bound to go up." He cautions, however, "But this isn't a normal year." Because far fewer people are booking holiday travel, Keyes says the opposite has occurred, and holiday fares have precipitously dropped. "We have found more cheap Christmas flights in 2020 than the past five years combined. So while people mistakenly assume that all cheap flights these days are a result of the pandemic, the one area where cheap fares are directly attributable to coronavirus is for holiday travel." And while many travelers will want to take advantage of such lucrative deals, the situation surrounding the novel coronavirus is fast-evolving. While one destination may seem safe right now, it could easily emerge as a new hotspot in two to three months if a second wave of the pandemic occurs, and as cold and flu season begins. For those that want to book travel, but lack confidence that they will actually be able to go, or may not ultimately feel comfortable doing so, it's important to know that your travel purchase is protected amid so much uncertainty. Fortunately, right now is also a good time to find more generous cancellation policies than ever before, with flexible options that allow travelers to back out without added fees, for any reason at all. Like airlines, major hotel brands and third-party booking engines are offering similarly lenient policies, competitive pricing, and refund options for both new and holiday bookings. They're also promoting stringent new cleaning procedures in an attempt to reassure concerned travelers. I did some heavy online digging to see how this side of hospitality is responding, and while few travel outlets are publishing special cancellation periods specifically targeted at holiday travel, some do specify a mid-December cutoff — approximately the week before Christmas — for refunds. That means most Thanksgiving travel may be booked right now, worry-free. For an at-a-glance guide to cancellation periods, we rounded up the current published policies from major hotels, online travel agencies, and home rental platforms. And if you do decide to book, here's what experts say you should know about whether it's safe to fly over Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the holiday season, specifically. Keep reading for key dates and cancellation policies from hotels and online travel booking platforms for 2020 holiday travel. Airbnb Airbnb hosts set their own cancellation policies, which vary depending on the listing as well as the amount of time from booking, or until check-in. Individual cancellation details are available towards the bottom of each listing page, and you can also search by this filter for more flexible options. Available policies hosts can choose include Flexible, Moderate, and Strict. For some places, hosts offer a choice of refundable or non-refundable booking with a different price and terms. Reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made on or before March 14, with a check-in date between that date and October 31, are covered by Airbnb's extenuating circumstances policy and may be canceled before check-in. Guests who cancel their bookings will see cancellation and refund options: Airbnb will either refund, or issue travel credit that includes, all service fees for covered cancellations. Booking.com Look for bookings that state flexible cancellation policies; if you don't book a flexible rate, you may not be entitled to a refund. If you already have a booking that is non-refundable or no longer free to cancel, you may face a cancellation fee if you cancel. You may also try calling the hotel property booked directly as they may be willing to change your dates at no additional cost. If your reservation ends up being a no-go because of pandemic-related events — like a border closure — sign into your account and check your options. In these situations, the property must provide a refund, offer a free date change, or a credit for a future stay. Expedia For future travel, look for the filters labeled "free cancellation" (for lodging) and "no change fee" (for flights) to avoid penalties. Car rentals are flexible. For existing travel, many reservations made through Expedia already qualify for either free cancellation or no-fee change. Sign into your account and check your itinerary. If you qualify, you can change or cancel your reservations from within your itinerary. If you booked a package vacation, you'll have to cancel your lodging and your flight separately, subject to the cancellation policies of your specific booking. If you don't have an account, you can use your itinerary or confirmation number. Four Seasons For any future arrival date, reservations (even pre-paid ones) qualify for any changes or cancellations at no charge up to 24 hours before arrival, as long as the change or cancellation is made by December 31 — which generously includes the entire 2020 holiday period. But some exclusions do apply during holidays, so check your individual rate rules when booking to confirm. Changes to any reservations will be subject to availability as well as any potential rate differences. Hilton Hotels All reservations made through September 30 can be changed or canceled at no charge, up to 24 hours before check-in date. If you're booking a new reservation now (in other words, past that cutoff date), your reservation is subject to published cancellation policies. If you are a Hilton Honors member, and cancel an advance purchase rate, you may be eligible for a free night certificate for each canceled night, to use by August 31, 2021. Hotels.com If you haven't yet made your booking, look for rates stating flexible cancellation policies. If you have already booked one that offers free cancellation, you'll get a refund for the amount that you paid. If you made a non-refundable booking, but your destination is considered inaccessible, you qualify for a full refund or a hotel voucher if you cancel at least 24 hours in advance. But that's just under those circumstances: If your destination is considered open for travel but you just want to cancel anyway, your booking's original cancellation policy applies. Hyatt Hotels New reservations booked on or after July 1 for arrival dates through July 31, 2021, can be canceled at no charge up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival (with few limited exceptions), making all holiday travel flexible. Find a list of change and cancellation fee waiver exceptions online to check before booking. Some individual hotel properties may adjust this cancellation policy during high-demand periods like holidays, so review the rate rules when booking. These will show the current cancellation and deposit policies for your specific stay. Reservations can be changed or canceled on hyatt.com or via the app. Changes to existing reservations are subject to availability and possible rate differences. Note that these policies apply to reservations made directly through Hyatt directly. Online travel agents or other third parties may have different policies. InterContinental Hotel Group The hotel group offered more flexible cancellation policies due to COVID-19, but those are mainly not applicable to the 2020 holiday period because all non-refundable and pre-paid bookings from October 1 onward will be subject to the terms and conditions stated during booking. Some rates do have flexible cancellation built-in, so check your booking for the details. Langham Hotels & Resorts Langham will provide a full refund (including related fees) on cancellations for bookings as long as they're made at least 24 hours prior to arrival date. This applies for stays up to and including December 18. Outside of that window, policies differ for individual Langham hotels. If you made your booking through a third party, you'll have to contact that entity, as their policies will apply. Lowes Hotels Lowes' flexible policy allows cancellation with 24 hours notice for any new and existing reservations. Pre-paid and non-refundable reservations may not be included in this policy. Reservations made through a third party are subject to that entity's terms. Marriott Bonvoy Existing reservations for future travel are subject to the policies stated at the time of booking. Late cancellation booking may be equivalent to the room night cost. For guests with reservations made on or after July 6 for arrival dates through December 30, Marriott will allow changes or cancellations without a fee up to 24 hours before the scheduled arrival date. Pre-paid reservations and a few other exclusions will be subject to the policies stated at the time of booking, such as the responsibility to pay the nightly room rate if canceling late. Rosewood Hotels & Resorts For new individual reservations booked as of March 14, for stays through December 19, a flexible 24-hour, no-fee cancellation policy applies. Travelocity Travelocity doesn't charge its own cancellation fees, and as long as you're canceling with three days' notice of your stay, most hotels in your itinerary won't charge one either. If you need to cancel a flight within 24 hours of booking it, most airlines don't charge a fee, and neither does the online agency. Vrbo (and HomeAway) Note that Vrbo and HomeAway are now the same platform, except in name, and as such, they have the same cancellation policies. With the summer COVID-19 policies now past, the host's standard cancellation policy currently applies. It falls into three categories. The first is called Relaxed. Bookings canceled at least 14 days before the start of the stay receive a full refund. Those canceled at least seven days in advance receive a 50% refund. The next category is Moderate. Bookings canceled 30 days or more from check-in receive a full refund. Two weeks or more from check-in and guests can receive a 50% refund. The most stringent policy is Firm. Bookings canceled 60 days out receive a full refund; then guests can receive a 50% refund until 30 days before check-in. Wyndham Hotels For new or existing direct bookings, all properties are required to accommodate non-cancelable rate reservation changes without penalty if the request is received at least 48 hours prior to arrival, and the same number of room nights or more are booked for a future stay. This policy does not apply to group bookings, such as meetings or events. Guests who are prohibited from traveling to their booked hotel will have their cancellation or change penalties waived on direct bookings. Join the conversation about this story »
Everything to know about Airbnb Plus, including how listings are vetted, if they cost more, and if it's worth it
Summary List Placement Airbnb launched Airbnb Plus in 2018 to highlight listings vetted in-person by a...Summary List Placement Airbnb launched Airbnb Plus in 2018 to highlight listings vetted in-person by a third-party inspector for the highest levels of style, design, and hospitality. We break down the benefits of Airbnb Plus listings, how they're vetted, and if they cost more. Read more: Are Airbnbs safe? We spoke to experts, a company representative, and an Airbnb host to share everything you should know before booking someone's home As travelers are starting to feel more comfortable doing trips following lockdowns and travel disruptions due to the novel coronavirus, many are looking to vacation rental sites like Airbnb for accommodations. In fact, experts have actually noted that Airbnbs may be a safer option than hotels since you can opt to book an entire private home. Airbnb also recently rolled out a new Enhanced Cleaning Initiative so guests can easily identify Airbnb listings that adhere to the new vigorous standards. But when it comes to homes listed on Airbnb, the offerings can certainly be a mixed bag. On the same platform where you can rent a renovated lighthouse or Tyler Perry's former mansion, you'll also find small, drab rooms and even the occasional scam. Similarly, the hosts can range from Superhosts who go above and beyond to uninvolved third parties. Of course, savvy travelers know to be vigilant when it comes to checking ratings and reading past guest reviews before booking and to check other home booking sites too, but even the most seasoned Airbnb users can find themselves checking into a run-down home when they were hoping for a sophisticated stay. Plus, not everyone has time to devote hours to sifting through hundreds of listings and reading multiple reviews to compare every potential stay. For travelers who want the guarantee of hotel-quality design and hospitality, Airbnb Plus is the answer. Airbnb Plus was officially launched by Airbnb in 2018 to highlight the bonafide creme de la creme of Airbnb listings, homes renowned for designer aesthetics, magazine-worthy style, and thoughtful amenities provided by hosts for a next-level stay. It's important to keep in mind that there's no guarantee of safety for travel right now. But for users who are looking to book an Airbnb and are interested in vetted homes, there's an option to filter Airbnb listings to only show Plus stays. This can significantly cut down the time it takes to find your next top-notch accommodations. Here's how it works. What is Airbnb Plus? Airbnb Plus is a special collection of homes that have been verified in-person by a third-party inspector. According to Airbnb, it includes a "selection of only the highest quality homes with hosts known for great reviews and attention to detail." Hosts must meet the following requirements before they are even eligible to apply: The listing must be either an entire place or a private room with a private bathroom. The host must have maintained an average rating of at least 4.8 over the past year. The host must not have canceled any reservations, with the exception of extenuating circumstances. The host must have accepted 95% of booking requests over the past year. Once the host meets these requirements, a third-party inspector will visit the home to vet the listing on style, design, and hospitality (more on this below). If the home is accepted, a professional photographer is then provided to take new photos to showcase the property and ensure that all listing photos are high quality in terms of look and resolution. Once the home is officially part of Airbnb Plus, hosts must also agree to not list it on any other booking platform, meaning that all Plus listings are exclusive to Airbnb. As an added bonus, when you book a Plus home, you'll also have access to the Airbnb Plus support team, which is focused on serving Plus customers with quicker response times. What is the difference between Airbnb and Airbnb Plus? The main difference between a regular Airbnb and Airbnb Plus is the fact the homes are verified in-person and held to a higher standard. However, eligibility to apply for Plus certification is not available in all destinations. Airbnb currently lists Plus homes across all six continents, but these are usually in major cities like Los Angeles or island countries like the Dominican Republic. The program is constantly expanding but still lacks some major world cities. For example, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are the only destinations where there are Plus listings in all of South America. And while you can find a Plus home on the Hawaiian island Maui, you won't find any on Oahu. A verified Plus rating doesn't necessarily mean that the home is better than non-Plus listings, especially because the distinction does not cover every destination on the platform. However, it can offer stronger peace of mind that someone has verified the listing in-person and that what you will be getting will at least match the quality of the photos. It's also worth noting that Airbnb Plus is also a different service than Airbnb Luxe, which exclusively lists private villas and includes a personal trip planner and airport pick-up in the price. What is the difference between Airbnb Plus and a Superhost? Superhost status is earned by maintaining at least a 4.8 average rating with zero cancellations over the past year. You don't have to operate an Airbnb Plus listing to be a Superhost. Additionally, hosts must have completed 10 stays or three reservations totaling at least 100 nights. They must also maintain a 90 percent response rate. Superhost status will automatically be earned if the host meets all these criteria by the end of any given quarter. On the other hand, Airbnb Plus status must be applied for and verified in person. However, Plus hosts are required to sustain their Superhost level of hospitality, in addition to having a listing that is well designed, equipped, and maintained. How are Airbnb Plus listings vetted? Homes are vetted based on three standards: style, comfort, and hospitality. By being eligible for Airbnb Plus, the host already meets the hospitality standards, but an in-person visit is required to confirm that the home also meets style and comfort standards. The interior design of the home is expected to be cohesive, clutter-free, and reflect style and personality like this Los Angeles home, which has a clean design scheme punctuated by eye-catching houseplants and funky furniture pieces. The home must also be unique in some way and the listing will score points for personal touches like this Roman loft, for example, which really pulls off its vintage nautical theme. Airbnb Plus homes are required to be fully-equipped with cooking essentials, filtered or bottled water, and an iron and hairdryer, among other desirable amenities. The property must also be well maintained, which means that everything is clean and works, from the coffee maker to all the locks on the bedroom doors. Lastly, self-check-in, via a lockbox or door code, is mandatory to ensure that all guests have a smooth check-in experience. Is Airbnb Plus more expensive? The biggest misconception about Airbnb Plus is that you'll pay a lot more for it, but that's not necessarily the case. Although some hosts may raise their nightly rates after being accepted into the program, there are still plenty of affordable listings like this private room just outside London that starts at $47 per night. If you're searching by location though, you might find that Plus homes do cost a little bit more than competing listings in the same neighborhood. For most hosts who enroll in Airbnb Plus, the incentive is to stand out from the crowd and attract more bookings with a Plus badge. However, an Airbnb Plus stay does not mean premium or luxury services, so hosts can't hike up the prices too much if they want to stay competitive. At the end of the day, you'll have to decide if it's worth it to pay a little bit more for the peace of mind that your Airbnb will be stylish, sufficiently-equipped, and under the care of a highly-rated host. Wondering if Airbnbs are safe right now? Are Airbnbs safe? We spoke to experts, a company representative, and an Airbnb host to share everything you should know before booking someone's home Which is safer: Airbnbs or hotels? Here's what doctors say Is travel safe? Looking for more vacation rentals? Try here: Everything to know about vacation rentals, including the best booking platforms, COVID-19 safety info, and the best places to go in the US Where to search if Airbnb is booked or too expensive Ready to book an Airbnb? Start with these guides: The best Airbnbs in upstate New York Unique and affordable Airbnbs in the Hudson Valley The best Airbnbs in the Adirondacks The best Airbnbs in the Hamptons The best Airbnbs in New England The best Airbnbs in Cape Cod The best Airbnbs in Rhode Island The best Airbnbs on the Jersey Shore The best vacation rentals in Ocean City The best Airbnbs in Connecticut The best Airbnbs in Maine The best Airbnbs in Vermont The best Airbnbs in Florida The best Airbnbs in Destin The best Airbnbs in Nashville The best Airbnbs in Hilton Head The best Airbnbs in Myrtle Beach The best Airbnbs in Chicago The best Airbnbs in California The best Airbnbs in Hawaii The best Airbnbs with pools in the US The best Airbnb beach houses in the US Join the conversation about this story »
A yurt is a traditional dwelling that originated among the nomadic cultures of Central Asia,...A yurt is a traditional dwelling that originated among the nomadic cultures of Central Asia, designed to be easily transportable with expanding circular frames that give them their shape. With the rise of glamping as a travel trend, the yurt has grown in popularity across the US for those seeking accommodations that embrace the outdoors. We rounded up the top-rated yurt rentals on Airbnb and Vrbo, ranging in price from $86 and $255 to start, with availability to book in the coming weeks and months. Read more: Are Airbnbs safe? We spoke to experts, a company representative, and an Airbnb host to share everything you should know before booking someone's home With more Americans looking to vacation close to home, it seems like camping has never been more popular. Not only is it easy to heed social distancing guidelines in the great outdoors, but some of America's best tourism assets are found within its stunning state and national parks. However, that doesn't mean everyone is down for "real" camping and sleeping on the ground (if you are though, be sure to pack these essentials). For those seeking a bit more comfort, glamping resorts are similarly ensconced in nature, while offering luxuries like air-conditioning and electricity. Many feature tents that are known as yurts, which are defined by their canvas walls and circular shape, due to the wooden latticework that creates the structure. This type of dwelling hails from the nomadic tribes of Central Asia and is traditionally built to be deconstructed and reassembled. However, in the US, yurts tend to be more permanent with fixtures like running water, dry wall, or a kitchen. Some yurts are so tricked out, they're almost like standalone cabins. Such versatility also means they're no longer limited to the confines of glamping resorts. Many yurt rentals are listed on vacation rental sites such as Airbnb and Vrbo, where they boast large private plots of land, whimsical design, and desirable amenities. To narrow the field, we rounded up highly-rated yurt rentals in remote areas across the US from off-the-grid tents to lavish two-bedroom abodes. Bear in mind that a yurt is still an enclosed space and you should take care to only travel with guests in your social bubble during the pandemic. Although the walls are typically made of waterproof canvas, ideal for falling asleep to the sounds of nature, the material isn't as "breathable" as one might imagine, says Dr. Thomas A. Russo, a professor of infectious disease at the University of Buffalo. "You would like one that has optimal ventilation, but if you're within your social bubble, the ventilation probably isn't an issue. Where it becomes an issue is if you're interacting with people outside of your social bubble and if it's poorly ventilated. That's problematic. I would still wear a mask in that situation," he told us. As such, it's important to remember that without a vaccine, there is no guarantee of safety and it's pertinent to follow guidelines from the CDC and WHO such as wearing a mask, washing hands, and social distancing. You'll also want to check state and local guidelines and quarantine mandates, especially if you are traveling to or from a hotspot state. We selected the best yurt rentals on Airbnb and Vrbo based on the following criteria: The yurts are standalone, private accommodations with minimal interaction with owners or other guests, in line with COVID-19 precautions. Each property is priced between $86 and $255 per night to start, with availability in the coming weeks and months, at the time of publishing. All are top-rated listings and have an average rating of 4.7 or higher. Each yurt rental has a variety of exceptional amenities, outstanding scenery, or both. Looking for more vacation rentals in nature? Click below to jump directly to related coverage. The best airstream rentals in the US The best cabins in the Catskills The best tree-house rentals in the US The best vacation rentals near national parks The best vacation rentals for fall foliage These are the best yurt rentals in the US, sorted by price from low to high:Yurt overlooking the Chama River in Abiquiu, New Mexico, $87 Book this desert yurt starting at $87 per night on Airbnb Atop a hill, this large yurt — 24 feet in diameter — overlooks the Chama River Valley and is filled with rustic and intricately-carved wooden furniture that gives this place a lot of character. From the bold studwork on the bed frame's baseboard to the unique texture of the coffee table, and the Central Asian-inspired tapestries hanging on the walls, the interior design is far from cookie-cutter. Totally secluded and located behind the host's home, this stay is all about enjoying the serenity of the desert. There's a Queen-sized bed, plus a day bed and trundle, offering a bit more space for a family. Settle on the couch and around the wood stove in winter, or use one of the provided space heaters if you'd rather not stoke a fire all night. The kitchen and bathroom are located in a separate, but private building, which is not shared by the host. On the deck outside, you'll find additional seating and space for your morning yoga routine. With just a few sporadic days still available for September, you'll have to wait until mid-October to book this yurt over the weekend. Rating: 4.8 COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is. Off-the-grid yurt in Fort Collins, Colorado, $125 Book this off-the-grid yurt starting at $125 per night on Airbnb For an authentic yurt experience, this off-the-grid yurt in Colorado is about as real as it gets. There's no plumbing, except for an outhouse, and no power, except for a portable charger, so you can totally remove yourself in this serene landscape, while watching the sunset over the silhouette of the Rocky Mountains. Better yet, admire it while swaying within the colorful hammock perched on an adjacent deck. The home is also within walking distance of a private lake and the hosts are happy to lend you their kayaks and paddleboards. Inside, you'll find a Queen-sized bed, dining table for two, couch, and a kitchenette, plus thoughtful touches like locally crafted and organic toiletries. There are still many days, but no weekends, in September. October and November are wide open. Rating: 4.9 COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is. Yurt on the bay in Bay City, Oregon, $131 Book this bayfront yurt starting at $131 per night on Vrbo With sunset views of a quiet bay, this large listing makes smart use of its 525 square feet with a large futon, wood stove dining area, and kitchen on one side, and bedroom and bathroom shower on the other. Outside, enjoy spreading out on a huge lawn, or dip into the hot tub or humble beachfront (all beaches in Oregon are public) that attracts local heron and egrets. The furniture inside is very woodsy with an oak table and a Queen-sized alder wood bed that's situated right beneath the skylight to savor the stars before falling asleep. This yurt is located on the Oregon Coast near attractions like the Cape Mears Loop, the Tillamook Air Museum, and miles of sandy beaches. It's also dog-friendly with a weight limit of 25 pounds, and if you have your own boat, you can even dock it right on the beach. This yurt is booked up until late October, but there are still a handful of weekends available in November, and December is wide open. Rating: 4.8 COVID-19 cleaning procedures: The host provides a contactless check-in experience, disinfects high-touch surfaces, and washes all towels and bedding in hot water. Flathead Lake yurt in Somers, Montana, $141 Book this lakefront yurt starting at $141 per night on Vrbo In rural Montana, escape into the wilderness to this luxury two-bedroom yurt located on a private farm near Flathead Lake. The 855 square-foot interiors are fully-furnished with a full stainless steel kitchen (including a dishwasher), a dining room that can seat six, and a washer and dryer. The decor is contemporary but rustic with leather couches that nicely contrast against distressed wood end tables and other character-filled pieces. The bathroom is particularly nice with a double vanity and modern shower with stone flooring. Outside, the deck has a picnic table for dining and a high-end kamado-style ceramic grill for smoking and grilling. With panoramic views, this elevated yurt also overlooks a landscape of sprawling flower fields and snow capped mountains in the distance. This home requires a minimum stay of two nights and is fully booked until November. Rating: 5 COVID-19 cleaning procedures: The host provides contactless check-in in addition to disinfecting high-touch surfaces and washing all linens. Yurt in the trees in Dripping Springs, Texas, $156 Book this woodsy yurt starting at $156 per night on Airbnb Sitting amid an oak tree canopy, this contemporary and well-designed yurt on Wanderin' Star Farms makes a gorgeous first impression with cedar-framed french doors, a fluffy white Queen-sized bed, and an array of fabrics, patterns, and textures that compliment the geometry of the intricate ceiling and latticework. This yurt is also adults-only, built for two and ideal for a couple's getaway. A small dining table, coffee bar, and bathroom with a large tub and handheld showerhead round out the on-site offerings, made more comfortable by amenities such as Wi-Fi, TV, air-conditioning, heating, microwave, and a fridge. Truthfully, you'll probably want to spend the majority of your time on the porch, which feels nestled among the treetops, or exploring the neighboring farm and creek. There are few days left to book this yurt in October, but availability opens up more widely in November and December. Rating: 4.9 COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is. The host also specifies that linens are washed between stays and all surfaces are disinfected. Blue Ridge Mountain yurt with hot tub in Afton, Virginia, $157 Book this mountain yurt starting at $157 per night on Airbnb Down the road from the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway Entrance, this large, secluded yurt counts 720 square feet and is fully-equipped with heating, air conditioning, and a full kitchen with stainless steel appliances and a dishwasher. However, the showstopper is certainly the 400-square-foot deck with a hot tub framed by views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Inside impresses as well, with a glass dining table and clawfoot tub that sits beautifully on checkered tiling in the bathroom. A Queen-size bed is tucked away upstairs in the loft, which not only allows for more space downstairs, but adds to the overall cozy treehouse ambiance. The location is also prime for social distancing with access to a private pond for fishing, swimming, or paddle boating. This yurt is booked through the fall, with dates opening up starting in December. Rating: 5.0 COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is Superhost and past reviews and ratings comment on how clean and tidy the home is. Rising moon yurt with vineyard views in Sebastopol, California, $175 Book this vineyard yurt starting at $175 per night on Airbnb Overlooking the vineyards and redwood trees of Sonoma County, California, this yurt is located on a wine country back road not far from Sebastopol. It sits on the property of a family homestead, surrounded by nature, and includes modern conveniences like complimentary organic and locally-roasted coffee. The yurt is huge — 30 feet in diameter — and equipped with a Tuft & Needle Queen-sized canopy bed, air-conditioning, heating, Wi-Fi, a smart TV, and a full kitchen with an island, gas stove, coffee grinder, coffee maker, and a french press. The sleekly-dressed yurt's central ceiling dome remains closed and floods the space in sunlight during the day, while revealing the starry night sky in later hours. Board games, cards, books, a turntable with records, and yoga mats are provided, while the private bathhouse is located on an adjacent deck with has an outdoor tub for indulging in an open-air soak. From there, you'll enjoy sweeping views of one of Kendall Jackson's Pinot Noir vineyards. Availability is currently quite limited, but check back often as that is subject to change. Rating: 5.0 COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific COVID policies are mentioned, and this home does not participate in the Enhanced Clean program, however, the owner is Superhost with excellent reviews. Cliff dwelling yurt in Orderville, Utah, $183 Book this cliffside yurt starting at $183 per night on Vrbo These perched yurts at Utah's East Zion Resort overlook the jaw-dropping countryside and not-to-be-missed Zion National Park is only a 20-minute drive away. Inside, you'll find a Queen-sized bed, couch, and a kitchenette with a microwave, cooktop, mini fridge, and a stooled dining bar below a flat screen TV. These yurts are brand new and air-conditioned with rustic-inspired decor and wood furnishings that feel like an extension of the world outside. A wall fully separates the bathroom, which provides more privacy than some of the other yurts on this list. There is also a small deck and patio area with a fire pit, as well as a gas grill. Availability: With just a few days left to book this yurt in September and October, availability does not open up more widely until November, when you can still book it for a long week or weekend. Rating: 5 COVID-19 cleaning procedure: The host will disinfect high-touch surfaces and wash all linens between guest stays. The resort's shared amenities like the pool and hot tub may not be available. Secluded yurt in Conyers, Georgia, $255 Book this secluded yurt starting at $255 per night on Vrbo In its own piece of the woods, and just a short stroll from a private lake, this deluxe yurt comes with air-conditioning, electricity, and a water cooler. Inside, a family of four can sleep comfortably with one Queen-sized bed and a set of bunk beds. There is also a small dining table and faux-fireplace to add an extra touch of homeyness. Outside, a large deck provides another dining area alongside a well-kept and sizeable yard with a hammock, as well as a fire pit surrounded by chairs. Staying here comes with access to a private dock on the lake, and the owners supply a canoe, fishing rods, and bait, too. There are still a few days available for the last days of summer and early September, but if you want to book this yurt for a weekend, you'll have to look at dates in October. Rating: 4.8 COVID-19 cleaning procedure: The host provides contactless check-in in addition to disinfecting high touch surfaces and washing all linens between guest stays. Riverfront yurt in Clyde, North Carolina, $260 Book this riverfront yurt starting at $260 per night on Vrbo Half-an-hour west of Asheville, with views of the Pigeon River on the Wildcat Ridge Peony Farm, this yurt feels like a glam apartment with drywall dividing the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living room. So much added wallspace means the hosts have thoughtfully hung tasteful art and decor in addition to inviting furniture. The home is air-conditioned, but there's also a ceiling fan, and the kitchen is equipped with an electric stove, oven, coffeemaker, microwave, and toaster, and the living room has an electric fireplace and flat-screen TV. An expansive wraparound deck with dining area, barbecue grill, and fire pit, draw the attention outside as well. There's still time to book this yurt in late September or October, and the second half of November is completely open. Rating: 5.0 COVID-19 cleaning procedure: This listing specifies a minimum one-day vacancy between guests, enhanced cleaning practice including the disinfecting of high-touch surfaces, and the washing of all towels and bedding.