Traveling with my family, I prefer staying in houses to sterile hotel rooms. Eating out gets tired after a few nights, and I like to have a full kitchen to make a home-cooked meal. If we’re visiting a city where friends live, we’ll cook a meal and have them over. It’s more comfortable and feels homier.
VRBO.com is an excellent means of finding reasonably priced accommodations, in the U.S. and abroad, that are often larger and more comfortable than hotel rooms, at a lower price. I’ve used it to find great short-term vacation rentals in California, Michigan and Florida. Making arrangements with the homeowners or property managers is easily handled through e-mail, and a deposit is usually required. You do have to clean up after yourself a little more than you would in a hotel room, but the savings and access to a city’s residential neighborhoods rather than its commercial districts make it a worthwhile exchange.