BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Summer rentals don't just disappear with the holiday traffic after Memorial Day, but late-game renters need to keep their sunglass-protected eyes open if they still want to score a place to stay this season.
With Memorial Day gone and the Fourth of July fast approaching, summer rental season is in full swing and the number of vacationers continues to swell. American Express' (AXP) Spending and Saving Tracker found that 59% of Americans plan to travel despite high gas prices and will spend an average of $1,200 on their summer vacation this year. About 70% of those travelers are hitting the road with families this year, up from only 45% last year.
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With 60% of all travelers looking to cut costs, a lot of those families will be looking to the eat-in kitchens, multiple bedrooms and big family rooms of vacation rentals to keep their budgets intact. According to vacation rental site HomeAway, the 81% of vacation renters who say they'll take a trip this summer will spend an average of $136 per person per night.Alexis de Belloy, vice president of HomeAway, says that while travelers looking to rent a house near their favorite beach for a month may be disappointed, vacationers looking for a week at that same spot can get a big hand from owners looking to fill dates or make up for cancellations. He notes that HomeAway still gets 15,000 new listings a month during the summer months and that even the site's top two destinations offer some hope: consider the one-bedroom studio cottage in Provincetown, Mass., with a kitchen, surround-sound audio, cable, DVD player and Wi-Fi steps from the beach for $995 a week and a three-bedroom Ocean City, Md., bungalow with a full kitchen, laundry, TV in every room and Wi-Fi for eight just three blocks from the beach for $1,085 to $1,360 a week. "I think the later in the game you look, obviously the more properties are going to be booked," de Belloy says. "Don't focus on the properties that are already booked; focus on the ones that are still available." That hunt for vacancies can end up well away from the beach, however, as some of the most available destinations and best deals are miles from the Atlantic, Pacific or Gulf of Mexico. De Belloy says popular winter destinations such as Breckenridge, Colo., tend to pull out the stops for summer tourists by organizing outdoor activities at their relatively empty ski resorts and dropping the price of four-bedroom houses with hot tubs by nearly a third during the offseason.