Some travel experts say a unique travel experience may mean ditching hotel rooms and instead staying somewhere a little more homey.
At the "Home Away from Home: A Different Way to Stay" panel at the L.A. Times Travel Show at 3 p.m. on Sunday, guests Ed Kushins of Home Exchange and Andy Murdock of Airbnb will share the perks of opting for alternative housing while abroad with L.A. Times Travel blogger
"It adds richness to people's travel," Murdock, managing editor of Airbnb, said of alternatives to hotels. "People make friends, get local tips they wouldn't have found otherwise. … It completely changes their outlook on destination."
Murdock said Airbnb has had more than 9 million guests said since it began in 2008 and now has locations in 192 countries. It is a secure alternative to hotels, he said, because the company "handles all the transactions so you never have to exchange money with a stranger.'
Although renting a getaway is not a new concept, Murdock said now people can "cut out the middle man" and book these stays on a single website.
"The value proposition is enormous," he said. The added value especially comes into play with families or large groups of people.
"If you're traveling with families, hotels are difficult. You often don't get another room, and you pay exorbitant prices," said Murdock, who has a 3-year-old. "Oftentimes, you are paying the same or less than you would for a hotel."
Another added perk: A kitchen for cooking family-sized meals.
Regardless of how many are traveling, however, using these alternatives can take you out of your comfort zone.
"Sometimes it puts you in a neighborhood you wouldn't normally stay in," he said. "On top of that, you can stay longer. If you're cutting down overall cost, you can stay in a place and explore more deeply."
Kushins is the founder of HomeExchange.com, one of the nation's largest members-only home exchange businesses.
With 43,000 members, HomeExchange helps participants reach agreements to swap their homes for vacations or business trips. Members pay about $120 a year for access to the company's member database.
To those interested in giving hotel alternatives a shot, Murdock recommends doing background research.
"The number one thing I'll tell people is to find an experienced host with good reviews," he said. "In most cases, people try it once and wonder why they hadn't tried it before."