The rise in popularity of private vacation rentals, recreational vehicles, and resort hotels opens up the door to many choices for families. With so many options, it is no trouble to find the flexibility to meet your family’s lifestyle. Is one better than the other? It probably depends on what you are looking for.
Hotels for Family Travel
Hotels have long been the standard go-to for travel accommodations. WIth adjoining rooms, rollaway beds, and swimming pools, most hotels check off all of the boxes for family travel. Hotels are available in cities of all sizes. Even rural areas typically have smaller chain hotels that are great for families.
Pro’s and Con’s of Hotel Accommodations
What we like about staying in hotels:
- Stay with recognized brands that consistently meet our expectations.
- Loyalty programs allow us to earn rewards for free stays.
- Hotel pools provide on-site entertainment for kids.
- Flexible sleeping options, including family suites or adjoining rooms.
Continental breakfast or on-site restaurant with a buffet.
What we would rather pass on when staying in hotels:
- Poor air quality. Hotel rooms have windows that do not open for safety reasons.
- Hard water. Hotels tend to have their own water systems and very hard water.
- Noisy neighbors. Hotels house anywhere from 80 to 250+ rooms of guests in a single night. All of them are there for different reasons. The hotel bar or onsite wedding reception might mean that your neighboring rooms are having a little too much fun.
- Limited or no laundry facilities.
- Meals are limited to restaurants, microwaves or vending machines. As a family, this gets expensive.
Hotels are a good choice and a common choice for family travel. If you are looking for safe and reputable accommodations that will provide the essentials, there are dozens of hotel chains to choose from.
Types of Hotels Available for Families
Limited-service hotels are the best choice for budget-friendly accommodations. They provide all of the essentials like the choice of rooms, swimming pools, continental breakfast, and free wifi. The rates are some of the lowest that you will find.
Full-service hotels offer a higher level of luxury. Larger family suites and full-service restaurants can make your trip feel like a real vacation. Full-service hotels are a little harder to find, typically only in larger cities. With the additional amenities, they also come with a higher price tag.
Resort hotels take it to another level and offer everything you could want on vacation on one property. From elaborate pools and waterparks to onsite childcare and activities, resort hotels are the top choice for luxury vacation travel.
Boutique hotels are small and stylish hotels that cater to a very specific clientele. Boutique hotels are much more difficult to find and difficult to match to your needs. But if you can find one that fits your style, it might match so well that it makes your trip a dream.
Private Vacation Rentals for Family Travel
Popular brands like Airbnb and VRBO have been disrupting how and where people stay when they travel. For anyone looking for a bit more flexibility than the standard two double beds and donut spread, a private vacation rental can provide limitless options.
Pro’s and Con’s of Private Vacation Rentals
What we like about private vacation rentals:
- Flexible options. Find exactly what you need, everything from couch surfing to renting an entire home.
- Flexible Costs for Any Budget. Large groups traveling together can split one large residence for a much lower cost compared to individual hotel rooms.
- We always book vacation rentals with kitchen amenities so that we can prepare meals while on vacation.
- Doing laundry for the family while on vacation is a must. With multiple people, no one wants to travel home with bags full of dirty clothes. This also helps us pack less.
- Stylish Accommodations. Find a place that fits your personal style. Ditch the standard hotel printed comforters and high-traffic carpets for something cozy and homey.
What we don’t love about private vacation rentals:
- Safety is a bigger concern with private rentals. We only book with preferred hosts through reputable companies.
- Without the standardization of a corporate brand, you are never really sure what you are getting. Pictures and reviews are all that you get before you arrive.
- Added fees. Extra cleaning fees or charges for wifi, stocked pantry items, or pool access can run up the bill.
- Location and transportation. Hotels are typically located in tourist areas or close to airports and offer shuttle services. Getting from the airport to a private rental can be a bit trickier. Luckily companies like Uber are around to save the day.
- Less flexibility with Check-in/Check-out. Private vacation rentals don’t have a front desk to keep your luggage before or after check out. They also don’t have multiple rooms or units available which allows hotels more flexibility with early check-in or late check out.
Types of Private Vacation Rentals
Entire homes, cabins, and beach houses. Relax in the comforts of home with private bedrooms, a full kitchen, and laundry services by renting an entire home. This type of rental provides the most privacy for your family to relax while on vacation. Some properties even have a private pool.
Large Group Estates. Planning a family reunion or small wedding, you can rent an entire farm or spacious cabin to provide room for everyone. This type of rental can be really economical for large groups. It also provides more privacy and comfort than hotel banquet rooms.
Shared Rooms. Platforms like Airbnb have allowed even greater flexibility for anyone looking to save some cash on accommodations. Consider renting shared spaces that usually provide a private bedroom with public access to common areas. This option can be a great way to save money, but may not be ideal for families.
Unique Spaces. If you have ever wanted to stay in a treehouse or go camping in a Conestoga wagon, vacation rental sites like Airbnb and VRBO have a special category for you to check out. While these types of accommodations are completely off the beaten path, they are a terrific opportunity to have a memorable experience with your family.
Recreational Vehicles for Family Vacations
Another option for family travel is an RV. Recreational vehicles are good for avid camping and outdoor families. For any family looking for a taste, there are also a number of RV rentals available through private vacation rentals.
RV’s are more of a lifestyle choice because they require a large upfront purchase and regular storage and maintenance costs. For families who have embraced traveling with an RV, the great part is that their accommodations go where they go. There are plenty of campground options ranging from free to luxury campground resorts. Disney even offers a campground for RV-loving families.
There is not necessarily a one-better-than-the-other option when it comes to family accommodations. What matters more is what will work for your family and your trip. Families who prefer or need to cook their own meals while on vacation will need kitchen amenities more than close proximity to restaurants. Families who are looking for an all-inclusive stay would be happier at a resort. The good news is that there are options to fit every taste and every budget.
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