One Travel Tip That Will Change Everything

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One Travel Tip To Change Everything 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.

IMG_7552I 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.IMG_7555We 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.

IMG_7682IMG_7666Every 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.IMG_7565As 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.IMG_7655 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?

One Travel Tip


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42 Responses to One Travel Tip That Will Change Everything

  1. Dana February 20, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    I think that my best travel tip is the same as your best travel tip! (Even if I don’t always follow this best travel advice.)

    My second best travel tip is “Be Flexible!”
    Third…”Be open.”

    Final… “Just be.”


    • ariana March 17, 2014 at 10:20 am #

      Yes, flexibility is really where it’s at! I always traveled with little to no budget when I was younger, and few plans. That seems to have set me up for success most of the time!

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  2. avicarswife February 20, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    Excellent tip! We just booked a trip to Paris and booked an apartment through…after more than one horrible night’s sleep with a toddler in a hotel room on previous vacations I think it’s the only way to go! Much cheaper than getting two adjoining rooms. I used to think that was the only option but you’re totally right about the freedom and different experience you get from having an apartment! We have done it a few times and don’t think we’ll go back to hotel rooms any time soon. And yay for Tenerife! Maybe that will be our next trip. 😉

    • ariana March 17, 2014 at 10:21 am #

      We have actually never booked two rooms! That sounds pretty glorious, if you do have to do a hotel– but as you said, once you’ve rented a home, there’s no going back. And I definitely recommend Tenerife! The north side of the island is way more relaxed/ less touristy– highly recommended.

  3. Andi February 20, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    We rented a backyard guest cottage in Portland, Oregon while we were visiting my sister and BIL and their new baby. It was such a great experience! We loved being in a residential neighborhood, and everything was within walking distance if we didn’t want to drive.

    • ariana March 17, 2014 at 10:22 am #

      Portland is a great place to do this, since public transport is so much better there than most places in the US!

  4. Lauren February 21, 2014 at 12:01 am #

    We started doing this in Australia before we had kids, but now that we have junior bedtimes to think of I would never go back. The benefits of the kitchen became obvious later, and are now maybe even more important than the sleeping stuff! We found some gorgeous old farmhouses in Gozo and had far TOO much house, our own pool, a starter basket of food, transfer to and from the airport with lots of chance to ask where good restaurants were and when the locals dine, and our rental car delivered to our door with a child seat in it (to be fair it was probably the man’s own second car – at least 10 years old and not cleaned, but on those roads I wouldn’t WANT a new vehicle!) for far less than a hotel would have cost. Our apartment in Venice was in a residential neighbourhood with a trattoria in the square right in front of our door. B&Bing is different as you still have to be “on” all the time, as you so rightly put your finger on. I usually just search for “cottage apartment holiday rental” at our destination (in German-speaking areas, including northern Italy, try FeWo – short for Ferienwohnungen), and see what pops up. Lots of self-identifying regions have local tourism offices that collect and pre-check private accommodations on their websites.

    • ariana March 17, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

      Wow, your experience in Gozo sounds awesome! We would love to visit Malta, and now I can’t wait! There really is almost no comparison to staying in hotel rooms!

  5. Julie February 21, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    Thanks for this great post, I love the photos, you must have a good camera! I thought your tip might be to: save your money. But seriously, for us foodies what a special spectacular place you were able to rent.

    • ariana March 17, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

      I do recommend saving your money for a great trip– but hopefully this will make that trip much more doable!

  6. Laurel February 21, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    What a gorgeous spot! You’re right of course. You can’t experience the culture properly in an anonymous hotel room.

  7. Paula February 22, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

    We are taking a family trip this summer to Maui (from Seattle) with our 2 teenaged sons. We decided on a condo through, which is walking distance to a nice beach, shopping, and a farmer’s market and includes 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a patio, and a kitchen. Much cheaper than 2 hotel rooms. I’m excited to try it!

    • ariana March 17, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

      That’s great, Paula. I think you’ll love it, and your boys will, too. It’s so much easier to feel at home, especially if you are staying for more than one or two nights.

  8. Wendy Polisi February 23, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    We are a family of five and have been doing this in the US since 2008. Occasionally if we are staying just one night somewhere we will do a hotel, but other than that it is homes for us. VRBO is our #1 website to look on, but Homeaway is good too.

    • ariana March 17, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

      Wendy, I will check out Homeaway– thanks for the tip!

  9. fairytalehausfrau February 26, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

    I agree with you 100%! I can’t remember which site we used when we stayed in a 3-bedroom apartment in the heart of Edinburgh for not much more than the price of a hotel room. Everyone was comfortable, we cooked there, and we actually felt like locals. If we are able to visit Tenerife sometime, I will definitely check out the place where you stayed; it looks great!

    • ariana March 17, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

      Yes, I imagine that the space and privacy or a home vs. hotel room only becomes more important as your kids get older. And you should definitely check this place out if you go to Tenerife. I think the cottage next door was only 1 bedroom, but you could probably just rent the two of them.

  10. Natashalh March 1, 2014 at 5:33 am #

    Great idea! We used to stay in rentals in Britain when I was a kid. I’m getting married in Hawaii (where I live) soon and my family is looking for a more affordable and comfortable alternative to an expensive Honolulu hotel. I’m pretty sure my mom doesn’t know about airbnb – I need to tell her to check it out! Thank you for the reminder.

    • ariana March 17, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

      Great idea to use it as guest accommodations for your wedding (congratulations, by the way!) One thing I noticed a lot of was big homes/ villas available, often for great prices. I keep dreaming of a family reunion or chance to travel with another family or two– that would be SO much fun, sharing a kitchen, letting the kids play together in the garden, etc.

  11. April 7, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

    I so agree with this! We travel a lot with our two kids and try never to book hotel rooms if we can help it. We usually opt for condos when we can find them. I find cooking at home better for the kids and being able to put the kids down in another bedroom at night while my husband and I relax in a living area is so so helpful and much more enjoyable! Great tip!

  12. Anna April 12, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    Great article! We are actually currently staying in a flat in Berlin (booked it via Airbnb). We love it, as it is much more relaxing than staying in a hotel, plus you get to meet the neighbours.

    • ariana April 16, 2014 at 8:14 am #

      Yes– I love the meeting the neighbors part, Anna!

  13. Carolyn April 12, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

    Wonderful information! Pinned to my Travel board for future reference. 🙂

    • ariana April 16, 2014 at 8:13 am #

      Great! Thanks for coming by, Carolyn, and I hope you have lots of great travels in your future.

  14. Susan Gaines June 17, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

    Encouraging & informative article.

  15. reneekohley July 10, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

    Oh I just love this idea! Very much up my alley! I would love to travel to Europe someday! Btw – your daughter is simply adorable – I smile everytime I see her face on FB or IG 😉

  16. The Food Hunter July 10, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    Been doing this for years! Totally agree!

  17. Raia Torn July 10, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    I love it! 🙂 I hate staying at hotels, too. Thankfully, my mom’s family is huge so I pretty much have a relative somewhere everywhere I go. 😉 I do like the idea of having a whole house though!

  18. Holly July 10, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    It’s such a nice feeling when you feel like you are going home at the end of the day. Your own little kitchen etc. I did this once and now love the idea.

  19. Excellent advice. You get so much more out of a trip this way.

  20. linda spiker July 10, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

    What a great idea! We have always stayed in hotels. Maybe next trip we will try this.

  21. Trish Carty July 11, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    Ariana, I want to know about this spot! Dreamy!! My cousin does this in SF a great spot to land in SF!! I totally agree!! Trish

  22. Lisa June 12, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

    Couldn’t agree more! I rented apartments, homes and villas on my recent 5-month adventure through Southeast Asia. I loved feeling more like a local, and it’s so much more cost effective. My accommodations in both Thailand and Bali were ridiculously cheap (less than $500 for the month!!) – with kitchens, pools, etc. And in the heart of town! I love feeling more like a local (which is also why I now spend at least a month in each spot). Slow travel with a local vibe is way better! 😉


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