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(StatePoint) The holidays can be an excellent time to take advantage of days off from work and school to get out of town. Before you make your plans, travel experts say it’s a good idea to consider alternative options to your regular vacation routine. New alternatives may work better for you and your family.

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A vacation rental can mean more space at a lower cost.

Travel expert Jen O’Neal, CEO and founder of Tripping.com, a search engine for vacation rentals, is offering some insights into thinking differently about holiday travel plans:

Authenticity

It’s getting harder to have an authentic experience away from home. Chain restaurants, retailers and hotels can make different destinations feel indistinguishable.

Beat travel tedium by seeking out cuisines for which the region is best known and by shopping at small businesses and boutiques. Also, staying in unique accommodations can make for a more interesting trip.

“A hotel in one city could look identical -- down to the wallpaper and bedspread -- as your last hotel room,” says O’Neal.

She recommends staying in a vacation rental home in a local neighborhood. By getting off the beaten path a little, you’ll see a different side of your destination city that you wouldn’t see in a tourist district.

Comfort

Get the typical amenities of home and more space to relax by finding accommodations that meets your needs exactly. For example, if you’re traveling with young kids, staying in a full house instead of a one-room hotel suite will provide you the opportunity to put the kids to bed early while you relax with a movie in the other room. Also, holidays are all about family, so why not bring along Fido? There are plenty of pet-friendly options to be had with a little searching.

Save Money

Between gift purchases and travel expenses, the holiday season can be a time of year when it becomes wise to cut costs where possible. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to stretch your vacation budget.

For example, if you are flying, travel during off days and off-times for better rates. Consider red-eye flights and mid-week arrivals and departures. Opt out of a car rental and instead use public transit at your destination.

You can save on meals by staying in accommodations that include a kitchen. Your own food preparation can cut costs and cut calories, as well -- which is great if you’re looking to jumpstart your New Year resolutions.

Lastly, don’t assume that options with more space and luxurious perks like hot tubs and fireplaces mean they’re more expensive. Vacation rentals come at many price points and are often cheaper than hotel alternatives. For a vast database of options, visit Tripping.com, which curates over five million properties in 100,000 destinations worldwide from top rental sites, including HomeAway, VRBO and Booking.com. It’s an easy way to search, compare and book rentals on one site.

To save time and money on planning your holiday travel and get more out of the trip, tailor your plans to meet your needs.

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