Consider renting a house, not a room

I have long been a proponent of booking a condo for a family vacation. I like the access to a fully-stocked kitchen to save money on at least a few meals and what parent doesn’t like having a separate bedroom on a vacation?

But Alex Risser, president of the Vacation Rental Managers Association, has a few other reasons why renting a condo or house rather than a hotel room makes sense for families:

– AVOID AIRLINE BAGGAGE FEES: Most vacation rentals come equipped with washers and dryers, and vacation rental managers often provide free laundry detergent and bath amenities. That means less baggage to drag through the airport and fewer checked baggage fees to pay.

– USE SPACE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE: Vacation homes and condos can be from 400 to more than 10,000 sq. ft., often costing less than a single hotel room. Rates for some three-bedroom vacation rentals may start at just $69 per night, but sleep up to eight guests versus cramming everyone into a small hotel room.

– SAVE ON DINING OUT: With full kitchens, and sometimes, outdoor grills, travelers can make and store meals and snacks for less. Use local ingredients and recipes for more memorable mealtimes. This also provides healthy travel options, cutting the amount of calories typically consumed on vacation.

– ENTERTAIN FOR FREE: You can find vacation homes, villa rentals and condos with private swimming pools, whirlpool spas, game rooms, fireplaces, DVD players, Internet access and free movie and video game rentals. Many are in communities with access to fitness centers, hiking trails, parks, beaches and more.

Cindy Richards is the travel writer for Chicago Parent and the editor of TravelingMom.com.

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