When planning a vacation you've got your pick of accommodation types: you can go traditional and get a hotel, get back to nature and camp, or stay in a real house rented by its owner, although you should probably be polite and call first. Making it easy to do that last one the right way, Skipjump
A totally free new travel-planning service, Skip makes it super easy to browse, search, and book quality vacation home rentals 'round the globe by connecting travelers with owners directly, and also lets users vet their prospective spot by reading others' reviews and ratings of each property and its owner -- and from the looks of it, this Bernie guy really knows how to have a good time. To get searching, either click on the area of the world you're interested in (from Canada to the South Pacific), enter dates, location, and # of guests, or go with the advanced search to drill it down by price range, basic property features, and interestingly specific amenities (from HDTV, to alarm clock, to...toaster); if you're more of the big-picture type, search potential destinations based on "Interests", i.e., skiing, scuba, golf, beaches, etc., and it'll spit back suggested spots, in case you've forgotten where beaches are. If you particularly dig one of the 16,000+ listings, you can get full deets on features/amenities, a photo slideshow, lists of nearby attractions, rates for peak and off-peak dates (by night/week/month), reviews, and a 1-5 star overall rating that vets the property/owner; then, send out a note to get more info or request a booking for specific dates, at which point it's up to you and the owner to coordinate price and payment particulars, and wonder where the hell you're gonna get that many virgins on such short notice
To get everything done in one place, Skip's got a Kayak-powered flight search engine, and soon they plan to debut video capability to complement listing photos, which should help you better recognize the space when you arrive, and avoid you unpacking just as J.D. Salinger gets home, and totally overreacts.