There is one thing that my family has started doing in the last couple of years that has seriously improved our travel experiences and made trips to interesting places easier and more affordable. Are you ready for my very best travel tip? If you are not doing this already, it could really change everything for you!
One Travel Tip That Will Change Everything:
Stop booking hotel rooms. Rent from a regular person instead. This could be a room, an apartment, or a whole house. You will not believe how affordable this is to do! Renting from people has made travel so much more enjoyable for all of us. We have done this in London, Paris, York, Edinburgh, and most recently, Tenerife.
I though it would be fun to show you where we stayed in Tenerife– for less than we would have paid for an OK hotel room for the three of us. Through airbnb, we found a small, two-bedroom house (a duplex) on a little farm with a beautiful view. Our host was really friendly, helpful and fun. He came over a few times, making sure we had enough firewood, tidying up, and bringing us empanadas for breakfast.We had the use of a couple of patios and a really lovely property which included an avocado grove and an outdoor kitchen. We were able to cook most of our meals at “home” there, and we always ate outside at the big picnic table, enjoying the view.
Every day, it felt like we had our own private park. This gave us space to relax away from resorts and city noise, and it was incredibly nice.
Below is the view from over the hill behind our house– water reservoirs and orange groves.As much as we all enjoy traveling, I really struggle with the hotel part– I never feel like I can fully relax, cooped up in a little room and having to get ready to go out whenever I leave that little room. We also struggle somewhat with food options when we’re staying in a hotel– the price adds up quickly if you have to eat each meal out, or only have a tiny little fridge, and working with food sensitivities is extra-tricky. I love having a fridge and kitchen to use, and it seriously reduces the cost of travel. I shopped at the local supermarket and the mercadillo, and then we had so many wonderful meals at our temporary home. This was a highlight. Amelia could run around outside, explore and enjoy listening to the neighbor’s parrot squawking every morning. Listening to a chorus of frogs every evening, and roosters crowing in the morning was a priceless trip back to my own rural childhood. I loved feeling like we were just one of the families living on that side of the hill, doing our own thing. I have always found being a tourist kind of awkward, and enjoy “slow” travel much more than rushing out to see everything. Having a nice home base from which to explore makes everything better. To see more of this property, click here. (This is not a sponsored post– but I will be happy if I can bring our super-kind host more business and help you find a great place to stay!)
Here are a few more things I love about renting from people instead of staying in hotels:
- You immediately get to meet a local– they are there to help, and can give you so many great ideas of what to do or where to find whatever you are looking for. If you were ever in trouble during your trip, you would have a contact.
- You get to support someone financially! Often times, it’s someone with a family who needs the income. That makes me feel pretty great.
- Your experience in that place is more natural, as you can stay in a regular neighborhood rather than a resort area– a huge plus for me.
- You can have a whole house for the price of a room (or less) which usually makes it possible to do laundry, cook, and put the kids to bed at regular bedtimes. (Ahem, not to mention privacy for grown-ups!)
How to find places to rent:
- Airbnb is my very first choice. It’s free to sign up, and really, really easy to find places in the areas you want to stay. Often times, once you have stayed with someone once, you can contact them for a slightly better rate the next time you want to stay there. You can also sign up to rent out a room in your home, or rent out the whole place while you’re traveling– a pretty cool concept! (By the way, if you sign up through one of the links in this post, you will get $25 [or £15] credit to use!)
- Trip Advisor also has links to property rentals, and has a good review system. Search the area under “specialty lodgings.” If you are interested in where we stayed (and I heartily recommend it!) then you can check it out here.
- VRBO has listings all over the world of “vacation rentals by owner.”
(I’m sure there are more, and I’ll list them as I become aware.)
Honestly, I hope I never have to rent another hotel room while we’re traveling. It makes so much sense to stay in a home, and the cost is much less. Jeff and I could not believe that we were able to stay in our own cottage on such a beautiful property for a week– for less than we would have paid for a mediocre hotel. Travel is something I wish for every family– but I know that it can seem really daunting and expensive. This is one thing you can do to make everything easier. Of course, to take this idea and your budget quite a bit further, you can try couchsurfing. More unconventional travel ideas coming soon!
Update: I also wanted to let you know that there is a similar option for renting a car in the USA when you travel! We just used Turo during our trip to Portland, and it was great. Definitely check this company out (hoping it will spread globally) for your next trip. (This is a referral link, and it will get you $25 free on your first rental.)
What is your best travel tip? Do you ever rent your accommodations from regular people?