Traveling with a family can be expensive. Even with points and miles and saver awards, it can still cost thousands and thousands of points just for the flights. If you are traveling with a family of four, for a while you can get away with sharing one hotel room, but eventually it is going to be tight. Maybe here and there one room shared by two parents and two teenagers for one night will be okay, but ultimately you are going to need another room. You can’t always get upgraded into a multi-room suite to fit your family. Even with top tier status, it rarely happens.
Booking two rooms instead of one will either double the cash price or double the points price. Staying in popular locations during peak times could cost five, six hundred dollars a night, or, in points, hundreds of thousands a night.
The cost is too much to justify staying in a hotel, even though you might, emphasis on might, get upgraded and will get free breakfast. When we go on family vacations for multiple days, we would much rather just stay in a homeshare rental. AirBnb, Home Away and VRBO are great for booking week long trips, and we have now grown accustomed to staying at one of these properties instead of booking a hotel, even if it is a free stay. I think that all families trying to travel affordably should stay in one of these rentals as well. Here’s why:
Hotels can be expensive. Hotels in great locations can easily cost $250 per night per room. If you are a family traveling and do not want to be jammed into a small hotel room, then you could rent an AirBnb with two, three or more bedrooms for usually less than $200 a night. Even if you wanted to stay in the center of Paris, a nice two bedroom AirBnb could most likely be found for around $300. Not bad, especially when you consider that you are probably going to get more than five times the square footage.
If you have status at a hotel chain, then you may be thinking to yourself that you cannot get free breakfast if you are staying in a home share rental, and you are right. But, when you factor in that most of the rentals come with full kitchens, does it really matter? With the money you save from not staying at a hotel, you could go out for nice meals and then have somewhere to store your leftovers. If you want to save even more money, you could cook a couple meals in your house or apartment, something that is definitely not possible in a hotel room.
If you are staying in one place for three or more days, then I would definitely advise staying in a rental to give your family more flexibility. More space is definitely more helpful for larger families and families with older kids, but sharing a room with your infant can be a pain as well. If you only have one hotel room, and your young child needs a nap, especially after changing time zones, you will be left with nowhere to go. You cannot watch TV or talk in the same room with a sleeping baby, and you can’t leave the hotel room. With an AirBnb, you have the flexibility to be in another room while the baby sleeps. Unless you can guarantee an upgrade to a suite, is it worth the risk?
When you are going to the beach, especially on the East Coast, just rent a house. It gives you more privacy, flexibility, and space, which is definitely needed when traveling with extended family. Unless you are going to someplace like the Maldives, where you pretty much need to stay at a hotel for an amazing experience, I would recommend just renting a condo.
A prime example of why a home share property would work better than a hotel was shown in our booking of a trip to Aruba. If we had wanted to stay at a hotel, we most likely would have booked a stay at Hilton Aruba, being Hilton Diamond Members. The cash price would have been over $550 per night, per room, plus resort fees. For a five night stay with two rooms, that would have totaled over $7,100 with over $5,600 in room costs, over $800 in resort FEES, and over $600 in taxes.
If you had booked that same stay with Hilton points at their lowest rate and using the fifth night free benefit, it would have cost 640,000 HHonors points. Thankfully, members do not have to pay resort fees on award stays. Even though you would be getting an amazing value on Hilton points, being over 1.1 cents per point, where Hilton points are usually worth half a cent each, most people do not have anywhere near enough points to pay that astonishing amount. And I wouldn’t want to give up that many points if I had them.
Instead, we will most likely book an amazing AirBnb for around $400 a night. These accommodations would cost $2,500 for the stay. Not to mention the fact that we are now going to be located on a much more private part of the beach, have a private hot tub, have a more exclusive pool located right outside the back door (instead of having to go down an elevator and through the lobby), and we can save money by making meals in our own kitchen. You end up getting more space (two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a living room), more privacy, and for a much, much lower cost. I think that, in this scenario, it is better that we book a home sharing rental instead of a hotel.
Yes, it might make more sense to stay in a hotel if you are only staying for one or two nights (make sure to use points), but on longer stays, you will save money and have more space. Not to mention that staying in a home rental makes you feel more like a local and less of a tourist. We have stayed in some amazing vacation rentals on trips and some that really took our breath away (in a good way). If you use the link below you will get $40 off your first AirBnb stay and support our website. Have fun exploring!
Joyce Tannenbaum says