7 Reasons to Skip Hotels & Rent Vacation Homes

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Vacation homes rock!Bankrate had an article recently in which they recommended renting a home or condo to trim vacation costs. While I very much value the opinion of the fine folks at Bankrate, that’s good advice that’s about decades overdue.

At the very least, it’s five years overdue, because my friends and I have been doing this for at least that long. In fact, it was the topic of discussion one day at Meals on Wheels and when one of the other volunteers remarked that they had been renting vacation homes for decades.

  1. It’s cheaper. It’s exceptionally cheap when you go during the off-season, usually almost 50% off the peak rates. The vacation homes are usually very large so when you finally calculate the cost per person, it’s quite affordable.
  2. It’s negotiable. Hotels are not very good at negotiation, unless you’re a savvy customer or use something like Priceline, the price is whatever you can get through a travel search site. Demand for vacation homes, especially in this recession, is down and you can use it to your advantage.
  3. You have kitchens and grills to cook yourself. Most hotels, unless it’s suites, won’t have any type of kitchen or even a microwave. You can continue to save money on your vacation if you take advantage of the kitchen and the grills usually made available in vacation homes.
  4. A pool of your own! If you’re in a vacation home usually frequented in the summer, chances are it has a pool that you can use all to yourself.
  5. Plenty of communal space. If you want to play board games or yard games, it’s pretty much impossible in a hotel. With your own vacation home, you have living rooms and other communal spaces you can take advantage of.
  6. Parking aplenty. If you go to a hotel in a resorty area, usually you can park one or two cars a room in the hotel parking lot. With a vacation home, no one is monitoring so you can pack in as many as you want.
  7. Free Wi-Fi. The last home we stayed in had free Wi-fi, which was a great perk. While paying $9 a day at a hotel isn’t horrible, I don’t plan on being tethered to a computer so $9 to check my email is a bit much (I know there are lots of hotels with free Wi-Fi, but many still charge!).
  8. More likely to be pet friendly. A vacation home is more likely to be pet-friendly, which means you can save on kenneling costs. Hotels? Forget about it, you have no chance.

It is not without negatives though. First, you’ll usually have to rent the vacation home or condo for an entire week, even if you’re only staying for a long weekend. My recommendation is that you split the cost evenly across the number of people, rather than the number of days people are staying.

Second, you’ll need a lot of people to fill the beds in a house to make it worthwhile. When we went to the Outer Banks, there were close to fifteen beds. We had enough people and the cost of the home was ridiculously cheap, but if you don’t know enough people then it may not be worth it.

Despite the two negatives, which are potential deal-breakers, renting a vacation home beats a hotel in my book.

(Photo: tony_wan_kenobi)

{ 17 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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17 Responses to “7 Reasons to Skip Hotels & Rent Vacation Homes”

  1. Rev says:

    Now the question I have is there some place other than craigslist/word of mouth for finding homes to rent?

    • Travel Gal says:

      VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) is a great spot on the internet for the US and all around the world! I’ve used it several times.

  2. Trish says:

    #7 is incorrect: “Hotels? Forget about it, you have no chance.”

    There’s plenty of pet friendly hotels. Here’s websites where you can check them out:

  3. DebtorinNYC says:

    Another (small) negative is that you have to buy, prepare,and clean up all your food.

    An excellent way to save overall though!

  4. Studenomist says:

    I just want to add that it depends on what you want out of your vacation. When I went away with my girlfriend it was a little more relaxing than when I go away with friends. We always rent a hotel because we get to spoil ourselves with already made food and the services that come with the room.

    When I go away with a few buddies it’s usually a bit wilder and we prefer some sort of a vacation home. We love to have a big place that fits all of us and allows us to be guys (aka noisy)while we cook meat on the grill all day.

  5. Infinion says:

    Rev, is probably one of the largest site for just what you want. There are plenty others too though. Just use common sense, talk directly to the owner, and make it clear the terms. I always make sure we’re both agreeing to a rental agreement in writing. Renting directly from the owner has been great for me. Not only is there a financial incentive, but it’s a lot more personal. We’ve been able to meet owners at the property often. They are usually quite kind, want you to take care of their property, and want to make sure you have what you need to enjoy your time there. It’s really easy to negotiate with owners, and you can also usually negotiate other perks too. For example, I’ve stayed at condos before where the property charges guests for WiFi. I ask the owner of the condo if they will provide an access code for free, and they’ve been more than willing to do so.

    • jessica says:

      I’m looking into renting a condo in New orleans directly from the owner. I’ve never done a vacation rental before so i don’t know if this is normal, but the owner wants a 20% deposit to hold the reservation and then the remaining balance paid in full 30 days prior to arrival. is this a good idea. i want to trust her. but its a good chunk of change to just give to a stranger. any suggestions?

  6. Alina says:

    We have been renting condos in Naples, Fl. and Sarasota, Fl. for the past 20 years. We used to rent a 5 bedroom condo for $1500 a week during the summer, which is the off season for Sarasota. Original cost of the Condo was $5,000 a week (20 years ago). Amenities were great, indoor/outdoor pool, right on the beach, healthclub, bikes, tennis, golf course, barbecue pits, and beach cabanas,just to name a few. You can try or

  7. Jenn says:

    I also like (in addition to – they specialize in discounted vacation rental properties and I’ve always found good deals there.

  8. zach says:

    My friends and I rented a Vacation home when we went to Hawaii. It was awesome, about a 15 minute drive outside of the city. We rented a little amigo for the week, which was also great to get all over the island.

    Our house did not have a pool, but we did have a pool table! They had surf boards and kayaks to use, one computer for internet (no wifi). But all in all, it cost like 200 per person for 5 days (In JUNE!!).

    Vacation homes for the win!

  9. Tyler says:

    My girlfriend and I just did this for the first time with a little place on the waterfront in Newport, OR. It was a great experience. We found the place on, negotiated a little directly with the owner, and ended up staying in a really nice little place for a much better deal than any comparable hotel. For us, the availability of a kitchen is a perk, as we like to cook for ourselves and get tired of eating out all the time while we’re vacationing.

  10. Patrick says:

    Vacation homes seem like the way to go, especially when you have lots of people to go with. I know some vacations I went on that the food cost more than the accommodations. I enjoy cooking for myself, even when I am on vacation.

  11. ClaireTN says: is also great. If you can manage to get a way for an entire month, the rates can be really great.

  12. Jeremy says:

    I totally agree that vacation homes are a great place to stay. When my family traveled to Paris, we stayed in an apartment because we wanted to be there for an entire week. This worked well because it was much roomier than a hotel room and actually worked out to be cheaper per night.

    As was said in this article, having a kitchen is great because it is much easier to avoid eating out, especially for dinner, which can be more expensive than breakfast and lunch combined. Working out deals with private owners of vacation homes can be tricky unless you use sites that act as the middle-man.

    I would suggest all travelers to look into it because you are also given the opportunity to slow down and spread your stuff out instead of being cramped in a hotel room. Hostels, though not as fancy and nice can be another option when you want to spend only a night or two in a certain place.

    Travelers wish to be frugal have many options besides traditional hotels that they should consider before accepting high rates.

  13. Nice post! This is especially true for longer stays . . . it is more like home.

  14. ken10hcky says:

    Also, sleeping in a tent at a campground and buying a campstove can be great fun! We have a very nice boat that we spend most of our time on and we camp for a very low place to stay!

  15. Anonymous says:

    this helped me alot for my school work

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