I’ll admit it, checking into a hotel and having daily maid service is a luxury I look forward to when traveling with my family. As a Mom, there is nothing better than having someone else make your bed, bring you fresh towels and turndown your bed each night. After all, isn’t vacation is supposed to be a break from your normal routine at home? The prospect of my family of four bunking together in one room for a week never bothered me. I actually looked forward to it. The kids were little, and were just going to be sleeping in our hotel room, right? Wrong.
Somewhere around the ages of 8 and 11 it stopped being fun to share one room with our kids. No longer did the two of them want to sleep in the same bed. Once we added a rollaway into the mix our already small room, with two double beds, suddenly just got a whole lot smaller. Pile in everyone’s clothes, shoes, electronics and toiletries and suddenly we were cramped and cranky. We needed more space. When we considered the price of a one-bedroom suite, or even two connecting rooms, it just made sense to look at renting a home instead.
We turned to HomeAway to find our prefect rental. With over 625,000 listings worldwide, we were sure we’d find the right home to suit our needs. When we started looking at the advantages vs. the disadvantages, the reasons to rent a home just started to stack up.
Size/Cost Ratio – The last 2-bedroom house we rented in the Caribbean averaged $392/night for 1900 sq. ft. A 1-bedroom suite at hotel* on the same island averages $1399/night and has only 950 sq. ft.
Multiple bedrooms and bathrooms – Hooray for space! Renting a house also allows for traveling with another family. This brings the cost down even further and actually lets you vacation together. Visiting with friends while staying in individual hotel rooms really just isn’t the same.
Full Kitchen – No more emptying out the hotel mini-fridge to make room for a quart of milk or getting dinged every time your kid wants something to eat from the over priced ‘munchie box’. Plus having your own kitchen allows you to make your own inexpensive meals. I don’t know about you, but paying $20 for a bagel, cereal and juice at a hotel drives me nuts --especially when the kids don't even finish it.
Dishwasher – When our children were little, I used to spend hours washing bottles, sippy cups and snack containers in the hotel sink. Having a dishwasher eliminates that task.
Laundry – We pack less and for Mom there is nothing better than going home with a suitcase full of clean clothes.
Games – Most homes come stocked with board games, books and some even have video game players.
Privacy – No more loud voices or slamming doors coming from the hotel hallways. Plus, depending on the type of property you rent, you don’t have to share a hot tub or pool with other guests.
Wi-fi – Don’t even get me started on how many hotels still charge for Internet access.
DVD players – When is the last time you relented and let your kids charge an $18 movie to the room?
Parking – Ok, so there is no valet, but there is no fee with a home rental either.
Kid friendly amenities – Lots of homes come with cribs, highchairs, pack-n-plays, beach toys, bikes and more. Less you need to lug from home!
Room For Rover – HomeAway has a “pets considered” option right in the search filters. Sure, you can find a few hotel chains now that will allow you to bring you dog, but HomeAway has 168,467 properties where your hound is welcome.
No daily maid service – However with many you can rentals you can pay for extra for this option.
No room service – Some rentals offer private chef services and grocery delivery at an extra cost.
No Concierge – In all of our rentals thus far we have had a concierge binder filled with dinning options, attractions, maps and more. Also many times the homeowner is available to answer these types of questions.
Minimum Stay - Some rentals require minimum number of nights.
Bottom Line: If you are a whatever, whenever kind of traveler then staying in a hotel is going to be a better option for you. Or if you are in town for only 1-2 nights, staying in a hotel might be more desirable. But if you want to spend less, have more room for your family and likely a better property, then look into home rental for your next vacation. Don’t let the fluffy bathrobe and mini toiletries sway you.