Last Updated on November 21, 2023

Planning a vacation with family or friends can be a challenge, and once you decide on a destination, if you’re like me, the next very important order of business is finding a place to stay. Of course, you can choose the age-old option of selecting a local hotel and book a number of rooms based upon the number of people traveling in your party.

Let me suggest another option that our family and friends have come to love: staying in a vacation rental.

Our first experience staying in a vacation rental was on a family trip to Mexico Beach in 2000, a small, intimate, coastal community located 20 miles from Panama City on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Our beachfront rental included four bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths with a large outdoor deck just steps down to the beach. Our family enjoyed preparing meals together, playing games, building a bonfire on the beach, laughing, reminiscing and enjoying each other’s company.

The beach house was so much better than each of us having our own hotel room and finding a space large enough for getting together. 

Since that first experience, we’ve enjoyed many trips with family and friends, and we even made the jump to buy into four vacation rental companies for even more travel opportunities.

What is a vacation rental?

Vacation rental properties can include a furnished apartment, villa, cottage, beach house, cabin, condo or private home. They can be as unique as staying in a castle, igloo, treehouse, teepee, or lighthouse.

This uniqueness is only one of the reasons to book your next destination stay in a vacation rental.

Why stay in a vacation rental?

Breckenridge Bogart House vacation rental Kitchen.
Breckenridge Bogart House vacation rental Kitchen. © GoBreck

Cost Effectiveness

Vacation homes are almost always more affordable than hotels. If you’re sharing that vacation home with others, the total cost can be divided up accordingly.  

For example, $800 seems like a lot for a nightly vacation rental home, but if its large enough to sleep 10 people – five couples – divided five ways, that $800 is much cheaper overall than booking five individual hotel rooms.

More Space

Most U.S. hotels will allow two adults and two children in a double room; however, this isn’t the case in other countries like Asia, Latin America and Europe that often limit the number of guests to two or three at most. In these cases, you have to book two rooms, and many parents don’t like the idea of their children staying in a separate room even if it’s connecting.

On average, a vacation home offers more than 1300-square-feet to stretch out and unwind. By comparison, most hotel rooms only average 325-square-feet. Plus, hotels don’t offer the added benefit of additional outdoor space that may include patios, a large yard or gardens.

No Hidden Charges

Personally, I detest the “hidden charges” hotel rooms sneak in such as a “resort fee” or finding out the parking fee just increased to $40 per night. All of a sudden, that hotel room you thought was a bargain, isn’t such a good deal after all.

Laundry Facilities

Sandy swimsuits, sweaty clothes after a strenuous hike, and muddy tennis shoes. It’s happened to all of us, and when your vacation home has a washer/dryer, these issues are not a problem.

We also find that we pack less when we’re staying at a vacation rental as we can always throw in a load of clothes.

Kitchen Facilities

Most vacation rentals either sport a full kitchen or a kitchenette with options such as a small refrigerator or cooktop.

For those who enjoy cooking or travelers looking to save some money especially when they have kids in tow, having a kitchen is quite a convenience. We enjoy waking up to a pot of freshly-brewed coffee or having breakfast in the rental before heading out for the day.

With a kitchen, you have the option to cook, reheat leftovers, boil water, pack picnic lunches, keep drinks cold, or chill a bottle of wine (and enjoy it without that huge price tag).  

Privacy

Hotel rooms can be noisy, especially if your room is located near a bar area with loud music playing into the early morning hours. I’m sure we’ve all experienced noisy neighbors and irritating HVAC sounds.

Vacation rentals offer more privacy and solitude. You may also have your own private deck, pool or hot tub to relax in.

Family-Friendly

Redwood Treehouse vacation rental, New Braunfels, TX.
Redwood Treehouse vacation rental, New Braunfels, TX. Photo by VRBO

Not all hotel rooms offer cribs, but vacation rentals that advertise as kid-friendly are set up to handle much-needed baby and kid items such as high-chairs and cribs. Some sights like VRBO will post “family-friendly” in their property headline.

We’ve stayed in places that provide other freebies such as beach chairs and umbrellas, bikes, beach toys, kid toys and books, family games, and more. And there are no extra fees for these thoughtful amenities.

Pet-Friendly

If traveling with your pet is important to you, chances are you’ll find vacation rentals a lot more accepting than most hotels. When hotels do allow pets, typically the cost is higher and rooms are situated in less desirable parts of the building.

In a hotel, your furry friends don’t have the room to wander and stretch out as they would in a vacation home.

You’ll Feel Like a Local

Our final reason for choosing to stay in a vacation rental is that unlike hotel rooms, where you feel more like a tourist, a vacation rental can make you feel more like a local resident.

The next time you’re planning a vacation and choosing a place to stay, don’t forget to check out vacation rentals. It just might make the difference between your vacation being awesome in lieu of being merely good.

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