When planning a new trip, one of the chief decisions you’ll likely need to make is where to call home throughout your travels (unless you’re some kind of sleep/shower-defying rebel ninja). In my early adventure days, I was ’bout that hostel lyfe as much as the next guy. But since the rise of Airbnb and other vacation rental sites, it’s now easier and more affordable than ever to dream a bit bigger. Now each time I travel, there’s the internal debate between staying in a hotel or renting a private home. And while hotels are generally considered the more “convenient” alternative, I’ve found that rentals usually provide a lot more bang for your buck.
Setting aside any political leanings (because I don’t have any), I’m a big proponent of Airbnb and other vacation rental sites. I’ve rented digs in domestic cities like New York, Austin, and Portland, as well in reaches as far as Croatia, France, and even Cambodia. I’ve often found that for the same rate (or less) of the average hotel room, you’re afforded way more in terms of space, privacy, and amenities. Take, for example, our stupid amazing lodgings from Tulum this past spring. For less than a room in a nearby hotel, we had our own 2 br/2b HOUSE. Sure, we had to drive to the beach, but whatever, we had our own POOL!
If money were no object, maybe I’d opt for hotels more often. After all, when you’ve travelled hundreds or thousands of miles from home and are feeling jetlagged, sticky, and hungry, it’s pretttttty gratifying to wrap yourself up in a fluffy white bathrobe and order room service. And without that handy concierge and housekeeping, you’ll have to fend for yourself in terms of getting around, doing laundry, finding food, making the bed…you get the drift. However, there’s something about the more local experience of rentals that really can’t be paralleled. I love the feeling of a “home” away from home that I don’t share with hundreds of strangers. I like having a kitchen – or at least the OPTION of a kitchen (I might not cook but the full-size fridge sure is handy for beer). If your host is super legit, you’ll often get the guidance and amenities that you’d find in a hotel (neighborhood tips, snacks, in some cases a MOTORBIKE – true story) thrown in fo’ FREE. And above all, I relish in the challenge that comes with navigating new territory; the validation that comes from just getting somewhere and figuring it out. Sure, I’ve gotten lost…a lot…but aren’t the best gems always off the beaten path?
What kind of traveller are you: A posh hotel dweller? Or an Airbnb adventurer?