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We have been customers of vacation rentals for about 10 years now, and it is by far our favorite way to travel. It is hard to put a label on just what constitutes the vacation rental industry, because there are so many options to chose from, but if I had to define it, vacation rentals are essentially other people's furnished homes and condos that you are allowed to rent, be it for a weekend, a week, a month, or a length of stay you customize. In the city or the deep country, on a ski slope, beach or riverfront, there is something for everyone. Some places may be very rustic and have no phone or TV, while others offer hi def flat screens and high speed WIFI in every room. It might be a studio apartment in the basement of someone's home, or it could be a 7 bedroom 6 bath luxury home. VRs literally offer you the ability to provide yourself a vacation that is designed for you and yours, often at a great value.

A great value. That's worth repeating, and clarifying. It does not mean that VRs are necessarily cheap, but when you calculate per person what a similar quality level stay would be at a hotel, it tends to be a screaming deal. You're not forced to eat out 3 meals a day, which is a huge cost savings in and of itself. Many properties also allow you to bring your pet, sometimes with a small additional charge, which doesn't begin to add up to the cost of a kennel.

So why do we love to VR so much? Beyond the monetary value, we find this to be the most relaxing way to vacation. To begin with, we do have a dog, and he is very much a member of the family. He has never spent time in a kennel since he joined our family. We do not vacation if he can not join us. YMMV.

I am also a very light sleeper, and even now that the kids are teens, I still hear them when they roll over in their beds down the hall. I still don't feel comfortable with their having their own hotel room, so a conventional hotel would have us crammed into a single hotel room. Both kids in the same bed makes for very unpleasant nights. Not relaxing. While there do exist pet friendly hotel suites, which we have taken advantage of when we had to be somewhere that we could not find a VR, the ambiance is lacking at best, the "kitchen" barely functional to reheat leftover restaurant food.

Togetherness is a wonderful is your own space. I don't have the same sleep patterns as the rest of my family, and operate on very little sleep. I tend to rise a couple of hours earlier than the others, and delight in my alone time as I drink down the pot of coffee I brew to my coffee snob requirements, while I surf my laptop. In a hotel room, I have the choice of lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling until the others get up, or wake them up as I try to silently get dressed to leave the room to choke down the swill they call coffee at the hotel restaurant. Since our preference is rural and private, typically overlooking a river, I can go out on the deck in my PJs with my steaming mug of coffee and use the WIFI, while listening to the burbling of the river rapids. I can start the day off the way I NEED to start it off. It makes me a much happier person to vacation with. And don't even get me started on the need for the kids to have their own room, their space to isolate themselves when the teen-itis surfaces.

The customizable nature of this industry, allowing you to get what you want out of a vacation, is IMO one of it's best features. Because we prefer to vacation rurally, where there do not tend to be hotels, without VRs our options would be to camp, or to own our own vacation home. As much as I like hiking, biking and kayaking, I want a nice comfortable bed at night. Camping is not for me. Our own vacation home means we have to maintain it, and justify owning it by going there just about all the time, ignoring other destinations. A hot tub on the deck of the VR is an option we often look for as well. There is nothing quite like being in the hot tub at night, breathing the cool night air and looking at the stars in the sky... stars that are not camouflaged by light pollution from the hotel parking lot.

But that's my VR choice. Yours may be in a city, perhaps overseas. Choice is good.

There are many websites that can link you with a VR of your choice, but tens to be the one we use the most. Check it out.

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