Why My Family Chooses Rental Homes Over Hotels When We Travel

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It’s a setup that makes sense to us.


Key points

  • When you stay at a recognized hotel chain, you can expect certain amenities and services.
  • Although vacation rentals are more of a wild card, they are generally the best choice for my family.
  • Cost, space, and pet-friendly amenities are some of the best features of vacation rentals.

My family enjoys visiting different parts of the United States and we’ve been known to do our share of road trips. Sometimes in situations where we are going to be staying in a different city each night, it makes sense to book a series of hotel rooms. But when we plan to spend more time in a single destination, we will almost always book a private rental home rather than a hotel.

Going this route has some drawbacks. Hotels tend to have flexible cancellation policies. Sometimes you can opt out with just 48 hours notice and avoid having your credit card charged. Private rentals usually require you to cancel well in advance of your trip, and if you cancel a few days before your stay, you risk losing all your money.

Plus, when you book a room at a well-known hotel chain, you know what you’re getting. With a rental home, you run the risk of the property being less updated or clean than you would like.

Despite these drawbacks, rental homes are generally my family’s preferred accommodation option. Here’s why.

1. They can be cheaper

A private house will not always cost less than a hotel. But for us, it often is.

The reason? We are a family of five and many hotels require you to upgrade to a suite or larger room once you have more than four people in your party. As such, the nightly rate of a rental home is, to us, often more competitive than what a hotel wishes to charge.

Additionally, rental homes usually come with a fully equipped kitchen. Admittedly, I don’t always want to cook during my holidays, but I will be usually buy breakfast foods to avoid having to go to the cafe or restaurant for a quick meal in the morning. The savings there can add up for a week-long stay.

2. They offer more space

Cramming two adults and three children into one hotel room usually doesn’t make for a relaxing vacation. If we are traveling and just need a place to crash for the night then of course that works. But when we spend a week in the mountains or at the beach, we want a comfortable house in which we can spread out.

Also, my kids are quite young, which means they should, in theory, go to bed earlier than when my husband and I go to bed (in practice, they often get up much later than they should, But this is another story). When you’re all stuck in the same hotel room, you (meaning me) can’t exactly stay up later to read or watch TV. In a rental with separate bedrooms, this is not a problem.

3. We can often bring our dog

Many private rental homes do not allow dogs. But we tend to try to book our accommodation early to snag the houses that do.

Being able to take our dog on vacation saves us the cost and hassle of finding a dog sitter. And, frankly, it saves me the mental burden of worrying about whether my dog ​​is being well cared for.

Now, some hotels allow dogs on site. But if you read the fine print, rooms that allow dogs are often limited to dogs of a certain size — say, 40 pounds or less. My 75 pound dog is generally not eligible to sleep with us at a hotel, even if it is a property that allows dogs in some of its rooms.

The right choice for us

Private rental homes are usually the right choice for my family when we go on vacation. If you’re used to staying in hotels, you might want to try booking a rental home and see if it saves you money or improves your experience.

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