Vacation rentals vs. hotels: Consumer Website of the Week

It's official: summer is over, although there are plenty of chances for a weekend getaway through the fall.

Whether you are planning for leaf-peeping trips or just fantasizing about the return of beach season, TripAdvisor's vacation rental calculator, which I found through Lifehacker, can help you decide whether you'd save much by reserving a vacation rental instead of a hotel.

The calculator adjusts its findings based on the number of people in your party and the number of nights as well as how frequently you plan to eat out as opposed to making meals at home.

When you're traveling, don't rule out the possbility of providing some of your own meals. Consider packing some shelf-stable snacks such as granola bars or trail mix to avoid having to pay too much for hotel breakfast fare. A reusable water bottle or a travel mug can also help cut down on expenses.

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