Hotel or Vacation Rental? Which Is Better for Family Vacations?
If you are planning a family vacation, you know one of the biggest components of vacation planning is deciding where to stay. Do you stay in a hotel where you may all be in one room or do you rent a condo through a vacation rental site (such as Airbnb, Home Away or VRBO)? There are pros and cons to each type of accommodation so you’ll have to decide what is most important to you for your family vacation.
My personal preference for family vacations is to stay in a hotel – or even better, a suite (although that is usually not in the budget!). I clean up after my husband and kids every day. I really don’t want to have to do that on vacation! I want the beds to be made for me, clean sheets and towels that I didn’t have to put on the beds and food cooked for us. Let’s face it, 90% of the time, I’m the cleaning lady. It’s nice to have someone clean up after me for a change. While I see the advantages of having more space in a vacation rental home or condo, in my head, I imagine me cooking and cleaning just like I do at home.
Comparison of Hotels Versus Vacation Rentals for Family Vacations
Hotel Pro: You will not be the housekeeper or chef during your family vacation.
Hotel Pro: Your family will have forced closeness since you’ll be sharing a small space.
Hotel Pro: Breakfast may be included with the room but if not, you can have breakfast delivered to your room for your early risers.
Hotel Pro: You will be able to enjoy property amenities which usually include a pool, gym and spa (maybe more).
Hotel Pro: Your hotel will probably be situated close to local attractions.
Hotel Con: If your kids go to sleep early, the adults will have to sleep early (or hang out in a dark, quiet room. We don’t have bedtimes on vacation, so we don’t encounter this issue.
Hotel Con: You are in a tight space. While I list it as a pro, it can also be a con if your family vacation is more than a few days.
Hotel Con: Dining out for all of your meals can get expensive. We usually pick hotels that offer free breakfast to save some money but you definitely need to work meals into your budget when you stay in a hotel. We also travel with snacks so and buy water at a local grocery store so that we don’t spend extra money on those items.
Hotel Con: You may have noisy neighbors or pool-mates (or in my case, my kids are the noisy neighbors).
Hotel Con: No outside space for the kids to run off steam. This isn’t really an issue for us since we truly just use our hotel room as a place to sleep.
Vacation Rental Pro: You will have more space, probably even separate bedrooms and bathrooms.
Vacation Rental Pro: You will have a full kitchen, which will save you a lot of money on food.
Vacation Rental Pro: You can choose the type of space you want, meaning you may be able to find a place with a private pool.
Vacation Rental Pro: Vacation Rentals can cost less than hotels and you won’t be responsible for parking or resort fees.
Vacation Rental Con: You will have to clean up after yourselves and leave the home in good condition to ensure you aren’t hit with extra cleaning fees.
Vacation Rental Con: The vacation rental may not be as close to local attractions so you may need to drive more than you’d like.
Vacation Rental Con: If you have older kids, they may spend time in the bedroom, rather than hanging out with the family.
Really, when you look at the pros and cons, there are less cons for vacation rentals. That being said, those cons are a pretty big deal to me since I really don’t want to spend my vacation doing what I do at home, just in a different home. My girlfriends and I take an annual trip together each year. For the last three years, we’ve done a vacation rental home since there are seven of us. We all agreed that moving forward, we’re getting a hotel. In the vacation home, we end up doing dishes and the last morning is always spent cleaning up and making sure we leave the place in good condition. Even with everyone pitching in, we all agreed that it is too much work for working moms who want a break from life for the weekend!
There are some travel destinations where I can totally see the benefit of staying in a vacation rental. If we do an overnight trip to the mountains, a mountain cabin is much more fun than a hotel room. If we could swing a beach house, that would be far better than a hotel as well. Every vacation is different and every family’s needs are different. You’ll need to decide whether which pros and cons are most important to your family.
Do you have a preference for your family vacations?