I don’t remember where I first heard about AirBNB but I was skeptical. Why would I want to stay in someone’s house instead of a hotel? Once we actually tried it, I was hooked! There are so many advantages to using a vacation rental instead of a hotel when you have young kids. If you’re skeptical, let me convince you!
As you read, when I say AirBNB, it is interchangeable with the similar sites HomeAway and VRBO. We tend to use AirBNB because I like their site the best, but they are all reputable companies. If you’ve never stayed at an AirBNB, use my link and get a free $40 off coupon (and I get a kickback too).
The benefits of an AirBNB
1- You don’t have to sit in the dark and stay quiet after bed time. If you’ve stayed in a hotel with children, you know the struggle of entertaining yourself without waking them up! This advantage also applies to when you have more than one kid; they don’t have to go to bed at the same time since there are usually separate rooms unlike in a standard hotel room.
2- It’s easier to get a feel for the neighborhood and experience a personal touch staying in an AirBNB. When we were house hunting in North Carolina, we booked an AirBNB tucked away in an apple orchard. Instead of running hotel hallrooms, we let the kids run up and down in between the trees. The owners left us fresh apple juice and even a hand pie! On top of all that, there was a wooden playground and sandbox under the trees.
When we stayed in New Mexico, the kids were thrilled that our AirBNB was made of “dobie” (aka adobe) and it just added another interesting layer to learning about the region and climate.
3- It’s typically easy to find a rental with a full-size fridge, cooking options, and a washer/dryer. We love getting pizza any time, but especially on vacation, but those big boxes never fit in a mini fridge for breakfast the next day. If we are feeling really ambitious, we can cook on a real stove and there are usually a bunch of spices and cooking tools for you to borrow. Last, but not least, no quarters required to do laundry if you choose a place with a washer and dryer! This is a huge advantage for my wild, muddy, sandy children.
4- More often than not, it saves you money. There are obviously exceptions, but generally speaking if our stay is more than one night, an AirBNB is cheaper, especially if you’re considering trying to two separate bedrooms. If you are traveling with a larger family that would require more than one hotel room to stay with fire code, or traveling with another family, your savings can really rack up.
5- A rental’s reviews are more trustworthy than a hotel’s. Reading through a hotel’s reviews, in the same month they can range from “Best place ever! Thanks so much!” to “Bugs everywhere, wouldn’t let my worst enemy stay here.” How can you guess which experience you’ll have? An AirBNB’s reviews are much more reliable in my experience, because they’re so specific. Property owners know that one bad experience could tank their business, whereas hotels just expect it and make up for it in volume.
6- You can often get a space with room to roam; perfect for busy kids! When I’m choosing a rental, I always want to see the yard. My kids love being outside and having some room to run is a huge bonus for us. If you scroll back up, you can see the fenced in courtyard of a place we stayed at in New Mexico, they had so much fun exploring all the plants! Right below is the giant backyard and fun fort that came with a place in North Carolina, it was like having a playground nearby.
The drawbacks of an AirBNB
We stay at hotels sometimes too! I know lots of hotels have fancy kids clubs and other cool options, but so far we have been too cheap to try them. Still, even on a budget, there are sometimes reasons hotels win out over AirBNBs.
1- They are frequently more expensive for short term stays. Most of the AirBNB listings we have stayed in have a one-time cleaning fee and multiple night discounts. If you’re only there for a night, this works in a hotel’s favor financially.
2- There is room for miscommunication. Obviously this is true at a hotel as well, but the expectations can be blurrier. One of our recent AirBNB stays charged a $60 cleaning fee, left zero guidelines for check-out, and left a negative note on my review because we spilled blueberry juice (apparently) and didn’t clean it up (though we did strip the beds, fill the dishwasher, and vaccuum). I was annoyed.
3- Slower fixes. Any time we’ve had an issue, our host has responded quickly, but it is obviously different than having a full-time employee at a desk ready to help. We’ve never run into a true emergency situation, thankfully, but I can see how it would be harder getting a hold of a host in the event of one!
4- Fewer freebies. Yes, some hotels charge for wi-fi, parking, meals, etc. but the mid-level budget places we typically stay at when we opt for a hotel usually have free shuttles and free breakfast. There are some AirBNBs that offer pick-ups or leave food surprises, but it’s not the same.
5- Fancier decor. Hotels are usually decorated pretty sparsely, but AirBNBs seem to be much homier. You can definitely look through the pictures to get a feel for it, but we regularly tuck lamps and knicknacks up in closets when we stay.
Well, what do you think? Have you stayed at one before? Feel strongly that hotels are the way to go? Let me know in the comments – and if you’ve never stayed at an AirBNB, use my link and get a free $40 off coupon (and I get a kickback too).
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