11/18/2011 08:04 am ET Updated Jan 18, 2012

Renting A "Home Away From Home"

There comes a time when frequent travelers such as myself, crave a little piece of home when on the road. Sometimes, frankly, I just get tired of staying in a hotel, especially if I'm staying longer than a few days or when I have my family with me.

My travel tip for your next big vacation: Rent a home or condo.

Not to say I don't enjoy the benefits of a fabulously decorated hotel, a bellman at my beck and call, a restaurant that delivers my late night cravings and, of course, a maid that makes my bed everyday, but sometimes I need something a little more homey.

When I'm on the road, renting a house or condo allows me to cook my own meal, roam to another room, open a patio door or window, inhale new smells and fresh air, walk the neighborhood and take in the culture around me.

Over the last ten years, my family has enjoyed renting houses, condos and owner timeshares. We've tested the rental waters all over the US -- Hawaii, Williamsburg, VA, Puerto Rico, Michigan, and recently La Jolla, California. And each time, we've had great memories.

While on a trip to Hawaii a few years back, our family stayed in Oahu for Thanksgiving and we ended up renting four houses...the most expensive being $100 per day. Not only was it great for our pocketbook, but we had space to relax and breath! All the houses were in the same neighborhood, which made it easy to walk over and visit one another, and then stroll over to the beach together (it was across the road)! The houses weren't the fanciest, but hey, there were clean and filled with everything we needed -- dishes, towels, soap, televisions etc. We enjoyed buying our own food and opting for grilling or baking or whatever culinary craving took over each night. And more importantly, we were happy since could provide healthy food for our children morning, noon or night, which saved us a lot of money.

A few weeks ago, we rented a charming home in La Jolla, California. The house was only a block from the beach and walking distance to shopping, quaint stores and great restaurants. The three-bedroom house had two baths, a fireplace, an outside barbeque grill, a deck, laundry facilities and rooms furnished with really comfortable furniture...the kind that you aren't afraid to sit on. I found out later that the owner gave her place a personal touch...she had created the bright and colorful paintings found hanging throughout the home. In the rear of the house was a separate cottage that was also beautiful and intimate and that could be rented -- perfect for the in-law scenario!

In talking with the owners, I found out they had other homes in Yosemite and Hawaii for rent, and you can bet that I will be calling them for our next vacation.

Bottom line; if you too get tired of hotels, consider rentals with condo owners. You'll save money, gain space and have a more meaningful experience when traveling.