Staying Off the Beaten Path on Vacation
Updated: Jul 22, 2019
Why A Home Rental Beats the Hotel Stay Every Time!
When planning your trip, securing a place to stay is usually at the top of the to-do list. If you don't have a place to stay, then how are you going to have a great family vacation?! Besides, lodging is almost always the most expensive aspect of vacation planning and you want to make sure those dollars are well spent. Airline and attraction tickets may be the only activities that rival the expensive prices that come along with lodging!
That's why more and more families are choosing to stay in vacation home rentals each year (including us!) We recently stayed on a secluded farm with A Bit of Maine during our Acadia family vacation and it was as my son says the "bomb-cot-tom!" We'll share five reasons why that farm stay and all home rentals beat the hotel stay every single time!
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1. Lower Prices & More Space
An average hotel stay costs around an average of $124 a night. And, that's usually for the bare bones: a hotel room and the basic amenities of the hotel. And, let's be serious, how many of us are using that hotel gym? Most hotel chains charge higher prices for "extra amenities" including breakfast, wi-fi, and parking. Especially if the hotel is located in a popular big city (i.e. Chicago) or near a tourist attraction. If you add in that location factor, nightly hotel stays are more aptly priced at $200/night and above! Ouch! And, we haven't even factored in seasonal demand spikes!
Don't get me wrong, hotels serve a fantastic purpose for us as a road trippin' family. They are great for one night stays on the road during long drives. On our last road trip from Florida to Maine we stopped for one night outside of Washington D.C. and then on our return from Maine to Florida, we stopped for a night in Harrisonburg, Virginia. We were in need of a bed, a hot shower, food, and not much else. This is where the hotel wins.
But, when we know we are going on a family vacation for a longer amount of time (say more than 2 days), we have a few more needs and want to get the best possible deal on price. Enter the vacation home rental! For the same price or less than a hotel (around $100/night), you and your family can have a stay in a multiple bedroom vacation home with a full-size kitchen, free parking and free wi-fi. That's not including the amenities of a home, hello standard-size coffeepot! Nowadays, you can find affordable vacation rentals on rental giants such as Airbnb and VRBO. We lucked out and found a gem of a place on ABitofMaine.com for our vacation to Acadia National Park. Yes, smaller rental companies DO exist and YES we should support them! The community of homeowners with A Bit of Maine honor and believe in the direct relationship with their clients.
2. Unique Lodging
Have you ever seen a hotel room that looked any different from another hotel room? I mean seriously? Mass produced hotel rooms may create streamlined efficiency but it does get rather boring. And, other than quality and amenities, the hotel chains can't really differentiate from each other. But, vacation home rentals, well, that's another thing entirely. They vary as much as vacations and families differ from one other. Here are just a few vacation rentals you can find and book for your next vacation: a mountain chalet, a cabin in the woods, a New England cottage, a modular tiny home, a farmhouse, a historic Victorian, a yurt, and a suburban cookie-cutter home. Heck, you can even book a castle!
We stayed in the Blueberry Cottage with A Bit of Maine. Why? We wanted to feel like we were in Maine, surrounded by the pines and wildlife that Maine is famous for. We wanted our son to be able to run wild + free before bedtime! What better way to experience nature than a farm stay with wide open spaces, wild deer and blueberries. A front porch for sipping morning coffee and walking trails through the woods. When you choose a vacation rental over a hotel stay, you get to have a unique lodging experience that matches your vacation locale. Going to the Appalachian mountains then book a log cabin. Headed to San Diego then a beach house with a hammock swing is in order. Staying in the Southwestern desert, opt for an adobe dome home. The options are endless. Get creative and allow your lodging to become a part of the family vacation experience.
3. Immersive Experience
Yes, hotels often offer convenient locations and standard amenities but can you rent bikes from them? For most that answer is no. Do hotels leave you the ingredients and a recipe card for the local specialty apple crumble? Do they leave you a map of the best hiking trails in the area? Can you pick fresh blueberries or apples outside of your hotel?
The vacation home rental offers an immersive local experience. Most of the hosts have worked hard to create an experience that goes well beyond lodging. The land for one can be an immersive vacation experience as it was for us in Maine. Our cottage was surrounded by unspoiled woodland and open meadow. The hosts kept trails mowed for easy access and identification. My husband woke up and went for a walk through the Maine woods every morning. As a family of four, we went out to the blueberry bushes and searched for ripe fruit for breakfast. Something we could only dream of doing back home in suburbia.
Whether it's the land or host-crafted activities, a vacation home rental gives you the opportunity to immerse your family into the local culture. It's a great experiential learning opportunity. There is an Airbnb rental in Massachusetts which prepares hot outdoor forest baths (for a fee, of course). Another Airbnb in Florida where you can rent kayaks and pick fresh citrus. And, another Airbnb rental in Pennsylvania where you can take a private floral arranging class with the host. All to say, that vacation home rentals are becoming more and more an experience. Think of it like all-inclusive resort with the charm of a bed and breakfast.
4. Cozy Home Feel
This may be the most important aspect of choosing a home rental over a hotel stay for your next vacation. It feels like a home away from home. Everyone has their own bedroom. Families eat together around a dinner table. Clothes are hung up in closets. Luggage and laundry are hidden away. For a few days or a week (or longer if you're lucky), this vacation rental belongs to just you and your family. And, other than the dishes, you don't have to worry about the clean-up!
In our case, we huddled around a fire and played games on the floor. One night we made s'mores. Every morning, we had a breakfast just like we enjoy on the weekends at home. My husband made Maine blueberry pancakes and we sipped coffee while our son played on the stairs. Each night we watched Harry Potter cuddled together on the queen bed in the upstairs loft. Even for those four days, it felt like home, our cozy little home. There's just something about staying in a secluded place apart from others with the semblances of worn and used home goods, crooked spoons, scratchy blankets and all the creature comforts we know and love.
5. Host Specialties & Local Recommendations
When you stay in a vacation home rental, many times the host or owner is nearby. For some, this could be quite bothersome because you go on vacation to get away from the everyday small talk but your host can add a great depth to your family vacation. Many hosts found on Airbnb will give you eggs from their farm, tea from their kettle, and allow you to borrow all the gear from their garage (beach chairs, mountain bikes, wagons, snow shoes, and more).
Our host Suzanne taught us how to use the wood stove, kept us supplied with kindling for the fire, and gave us insider local recommendations for the Acadia region. Most of her recommendations you wouldn't find on the 1st page of Google because they're less popular attractions but that's what makes them insider secrets. She said there's so much more to see than Acadia National Park in Downeast Maine. She also told us the best time to see deer (very early morning) and the routes of the walking trails through the woods.
Suzanne was also an artist and her framed artwork adorned the cottage. Art prints of the originals were available for purchase and we bought multiple prints as vacation keepsakes. They are now printed and adorn our home in Florida! Even if you don't meet your host face-to-face, always ALWAYS ask them for their personal recommendations for the local area. What to see? Where to go? What to eat? Most likely, they'll give you at least one gem that you and your family will love.
Have you ever stayed in a unique vacation home rental? I'd love to hear from you, please share where below. What do you think, are vacation home rentals better than hotels?
Want to see more photos of our home stay photos, catch up with us on Instagram
Many Blessings and Happy Travels,