We really have no other description for it. A vacation rental won't let you just crash on a futon for $10 a night. Hotels don't usually include acreage and mansions among their offerings. Private islands, treehouses, rooms, boats and igloos seldom get thrown under the same heading, but on Airbnb they're all accommodations. The basic gist is that a property owner rents you some space while he or she isn't around. The site takes a fee from both parties involved, provides 24-hour customer service for guest and host and -- thanks to some jackass who thought it would be hilarious to completely trash and burglarize an Airbnb property last summer -- gives owners a $1 million insurance policy to cover potential damages. It's a bit of a risk for the property owner, but for renters it's a low-cost dream that lets them stay in funky little corners of the world for less than the price of a hotel room. Whether you're a single person who prefers coming and going at your leisure without Aunt Martha asking where you're going and who you'll be with or a pair of parents who doesn't see the point in staying out in some relative's subdivision when a city full of Christmas stuff is just a few miles away, Airbnb offers a wide variety of safehouses for your holiday solace. -- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.