NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Holiday travelers tend to love the idea of being with the family during the season, but they're not spending the holiday pulling hair clogs out of the tub, deodorizing furniture and spinning infinite loads of laundry.
For hosts whose Thanksgiving and winter holidays at home feel more like a convention of inconsiderates pulling into their de facto hotel for vacation, a vacation rental may be a last resort worth considering.
"The holidays are a time of year that typically involves good food, spending time with your family and some travel -- but it doesn't need to mean sharing a roof with your in-laws," says Hank Hudpohl, director of vacation rentals for TripAdvisor. "A vacation rental can offer you and your family a great way to have all the conveniences of home -- and even save some money when compared to the cost of multiple hotel rooms and meal service."Roughly 44% of Americans plan to pack up the brood and travel during the Thanksgiving and winter holidays, which the American Express (AXP) Spending and Saving tracker says is up from 39% during the 2010 season. Families of four say they'll part with an average of $2,636, or $659 per person, to go over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house or elsewhere and are increasing their spending by $200 from last year. While 36% of those families say they'll fly this year (up from 26% last year), 21% say they'll take a longer trip and 17% say they'll travel with more people, only 19% plan to use that extra holiday cash to upgrade accommodations. That's tougher to swallow than overdone turkey or last year's fruitcake for the 22% of grandparents, aunts, uncles and other holiday hosts who told vacation rental site HomeAway (AWAY) that holiday guests overstay their welcome after all of one day. TJ Mahony, chief executive and co-founder of vacation rental site FlipKey, offers vacation rentals as a means of massaging away that holiday tension. "The kids can come in and enjoy a different playground, different environment and different setting," Mahony says. "For the parents, what's great about it especially for Thanksgiving is that when you're not the actual host, it means that all the responsibility is distributed and everyone's expectation is that they have to contribute." Hear that, sofa-riding uncle? The 31% of holiday hosts who told HomeAway they hate it when you leave your stuff all over the place are no longer inclined to pick it up if the whole family goes dutch on a cabin in the woods. The 26% who are brought to a boil when nobody helps with the cooking and cleaning and 21% tired of coming up with new material when the family wants to be constantly entertained can rest easy in the comforts of a rented family commune where everyone's an out-of-towner. "Vacation rentals 10 years ago would have required you to bring your own linens or clean up on your own and there wouldn't be a chef or additional amenities available" Mahony says. "Fast forward to now and linens are standard, managers and owners clean the property and sometimes, for an additional fee, you can have the property cleaned every day." With a hand from FlipKey, HomeAway and last-minute vacation rental site PackLate, we came up with 10 places that can serve as home for the holidays without allowing freeloaders to tromp wet feet through your house after dashing through the snow:
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