Renting a house to stay in while on that exotic vacation is a very viable alternative. Many people automatically assume that vacations require hotel rooms and all-inclusive accommodations in order to be safe, secure and affordable. That is not necessarily true however. There are houses, cabins, condos, cottages and even castles available in most of the world's popular travel destinations. There are websites devoted to connecting vacationers with homeowners in every corner of the globe and they offer pictures, descriptions, comments from prior renters, availability calendars and pricing. It is a very convenient way to make a vacation unique and depending on your point of view, much more pleasant and relaxed. It is also a nice way to take advantage of seat sales and last minute flights.
Even if you live in a one bedroom apartment downtown, you can still rent a home on the ocean with 5 bedrooms in Maui, if that strikes your fancy and pocketbook. Speaking of money, this is one of those times in history where the buyer is in the driver's seat. On many sites that cater to this business, there will be a stated price but if the accommodation is available, it is worthwhile negotiating for a lower price. Many homes and condos in popular destinations are going empty and most owners would rather have 75% of their stated price than nothing at all.
Some of the larger and more professional organizations offer insurance against misrepresentation and other unforeseen problems but a phone call to the owner or agent and the use of a credit card should keep you and your money safe. One of the best parts of travel in today's economy is that you will almost always have little trouble switching accommodations if it isn't everything you were promised. On the other hand, it makes sense to check out the opinions of previous renters and they are often available online as well. Feel free to phone them if they offer their number. You will find an incredible variety of homes including castles and for the hedonistic or value conscious, even rooms above the garage. One site that is large and has a good reputation is VRBO which also has an easy to use search feature and many other programs, including insurance.
If you are arranging for a group to travel together, then this might be the alternative that creates the vacation of a lifetime experience, without the mini bar prices.