I'll be honest. I rarely stay in hotels. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've stayed in a hotel in the last ten years. I don't have anything against hotels. In fact, I enjoy them quite a bit. What I also enjoy is having a little more space, being able to make food if I don't want to leave for a meal, and I like feeling special. I also like saving money and staying somewhere unique.
People ask how we travel so much and, realistically, I don't think we travel any more than other people could, we just make the effort to actually do it. We don't have more money than they do, even if we don't have kids. My husband doesn't have more vacation time than they do. I'm lucky enough that I can take as much time as I want, because I only work part time outside of the house and they are very flexible with me. So, all in all, I think the only reason we are out so much is that we plan to use vacation time we have.
One of the ways we planned early to vacation more efficiently is to purchase a timeshare. Not one of those that you only get a week at a certain place, but one that uses points that we can spend on any destination they offer. Over the years, we've actually purchased a second timeshare that works much like the first and has locations in different destinations. One is better than the other and gives us access to all RCI rentals, but the other is available in places that we go often (namely, Vegas) and fits us well.
Surprisingly, we don't always have a place to stay when we travel, and in those instances, we choose a vacation rental, generally, through Airbnb. I like the feeling of being at home on vacation. It's a bit more relaxing and lot less stressful. Here's why we choose a timeshare or vacation rental over a hotel:
Tired of only having the bed and that one uncomfortable chair to sit on when you're in your room? Unless you're booking a studio, but even then, you have separate spaces in your room. Someone can get in the bedroom while someone else is sitting in the living area or at the dining table.
I get stressed out when spending all day everyday with people, even if it's Eric, so having a space where I can go and be "alone" for a little bit is nice. You'll often find us back in our place doing our own thing. I'll be checking email and Eric will be watching TV or playing a game on his phone. That quiet time is really helpful. And if I need more space, most of our timeshare locations have a nice little lounge area where you can sit and read a book or watch sports.
Make your own food
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm not one to get up early to go have breakfast. I'm happy getting up and eating a bagel while enjoying my coffee and setting up posts for social media. I also like to bring back leftovers.
Our first stop once we get off the plane is the grocery store. We pick up breakfast foods and snacks, but sometimes we grab things for at least one dinner, that way we save money and I'm less grouchy in the morning. When we bring back leftovers, we can heat them up properly, or we can make a whole meal if we want...and we have. Most rentals and timeshares have all the things you need. I've even made breakfast smoothies with the blender. (One breakfast out costs at least $10. If you multiply that by 7 days and 2 people, that's $140. Why spend that when you can purchase a whole week's worth of breakfast food for around $40?)
Some places have grills as well, so you have even more options for making foods when you're away from home. We've shared a three-bedroom with friends and their kids and grilled some chicken breasts for dinner and made sides in the kitchen. We've seen other people take advantage of the BBQs, making steaks and ribs for their family.
Unlike hotels, you're paying for extras, even if you don't use them: laundry service, gym, spa, sauna and whatever else. When you stay in a rental or timeshare, all that is included. You don't have to pay more for more amenities. I've stayed in rentals that have doormen and parking facilities and I've stayed in timeshares that have ping pong tables, mini golf and shuffleboard. Use it or don't, but the option is there.
I pack light. You know that. I hate carrying extra stuff. This means I'm doing laundry. Hotels hardly ever have laundry facilities, because they want you to use their laundry service, which is crazy expensive. My timeshares either have laundry in-room or have a laundry room on-site (usually free). I plan to stay in early one day during the week to clean all my clothes. This is the time I grab a movie from the front desk or Redbox, make something cheap and fun for dinner (though we've just grabbed takeaway too) and just chill. It forces us to relax and slow down a little.
Clean up after yourself
One of the things I love most about rentals is actually the thing I like most about hotels. I have to clean up after myself...or I don't have to. I don't have to put my big mess of stuff away each day before the maid comes to clean, because housekeeping only comes in when I leave (unless I'm there for over a week, then the timeshare sends someone to come make up the bed with new linens and change out our towels).
I like being in charge of myself. I have everything I need to clean up, including a vacuum, so I don't have to worry about a stranger coming in and looking at my stuff. Yes, I'm aware that's weird. I also like the freedom to stay in without having to put out my Do Not Disturb sign. I can keep all my toiletries out, I can leave my dirty laundry in a corner (not that I would), and I don't have stay out between certain hours until my room is done.
A lot more hotels are charging for parking now. If you're renting a car and also getting a vacation rental, you can choose ones that offer free parking. Most timeshares have parking facilities that are included, so you're actually saving $15+ per day.
These are just my top reasons to have a timeshare or use a vacation rental. There's plenty of other ones. With a timeshare, you can book way ahead of time of your trip, plus you've already paid for it, so you don't owe anything else. It means you feel the need to actually use it, because you're paying for it. With a vacation rental, you can book anytime, including last-minute.
What are your pros for a vacation rental or for a hotel instead?