At the beginning of this month we took Hemsley on her first airplane ride (she did amazing, hallelujah!). Justin had the opportunity to go to the Seahawks football game in Seattle and so myself, Hemsley, and my mom tagged along and we all made a fun 4-day trip out of it!
When I was planning our little getaway and looking for accommodations I went directly to AirBnB as we choose to stay in vacation rentals 90% of the time on holidays. The first time Justin and I opted to forgo a hotel and stay in a rental was when we visited Costa Rica 7 years ago and we loved the experience of a vacation rental so much that we made it a trend for ourselves.
For our trip to Seattle we booked a stunning, character-filled craftsman style bungalow just a 10-minute drive from the city centre (check out the rental listing here!). It was perfect for our family in so many ways and gave us the feel of “living like a local” in Seattle.
I’m often asked by friends and family why we choose vacation rentals over hotels, so I’ve decided to highlight 5 main reasons (there’s a lot more than just five). If the concept of booking a vacation rentals is new to you then I hope after reading you’ll be convinced to try one out!
1. Balanced Eating Is Much Easier
If you’re like me you enjoy restaurants but also enjoy your own home cooked meals. As much as I love to try out the local fare when I travel, I also feel that dining out at every single meal can make me feel off-kilter as restaurant food is usually heavier and can be burdensome on digestion. Vacations rentals almost always have their own well-stocked kitchens and provide the opportunity for casual home-made meals and a place to store healthy snacks, water, and other grab-and-go options. Our Seattle bungalow had a beautiful kitchen full of dishes, every appliance we could need, staples like olive oil and spices, and a lovely dining room table to gather around. We made a light and healthy breakfast “at home” every day while Hemsley had her morning nap and we even made a couple of healthier dinners using the convenient backyard barbecue. We stopped by Whole Foods on the first day after we arrived and having a vacation rental allowed us to choose healthier options to make at home and balance out our meals on-the-town. Health Tip: Make a nourishing breakfast at your rental and pack along healthy snacks to fuel you as you explore the city your visiting!
2. You Can Experience the Area Like a Local
Almost every time we’ve stayed at a vacation rental, the owner has created a manual or guidebook for the home that lists instructions, important notes, and area recommendations… from a local! Many vacation rentals are owned and operated by individuals or families who have lived in the area for years and they know all the best sights to see, places to go, and things to do. We love checking out local restaurants and shops that we might not usually know about as they aren’t big tourist attractions but more-so little gems off the beaten path. Our rental in Seattle had a lovely little donut shop just down the street that had unbelievably delicious house-made vegan donuts baked with organic ingredients that we likely wouldn’t have found or known about if we were staying in a downtown hotel. Health Tip: Prior to arriving, ask your vacation rental host/contact/owner to recommend some nearby, local, healthy cafes or restaurants to check out.
3. They Have Many of the Comforts of Home
After a long day of exploring being able to return back to a vacation rental where you can easily curl up on the couch with a blanket, a book, and a cup of tea, or run a hot bath, or gather around the fireplace is the best. These “homey” aspects; books, blankets, comfortable furniture, and real wood burning fireplaces aren’t things you usually find in a hotel. Our Seattle bungalow had shelves of great books, magazines to flip through, a drawer full of an array of teas, cozy blankets, an amazing fireplace, comfy couches to kick-back on, and a great selection of Aēsop toiletries (which was extra awesome because I didn’t have to pack all of my shampoos/conditioners/soaps/etc.). As much as I love to travel and explore I also have undoubtedly a little inner home-body, so being able to feel “at home” while I travel definitely brings me comfort. Health Tip: Travelling can be stressful and stress is rough on your body and mind. Take a little time each day to “unwind” at your vacation rental (take a bath or a nap, have some tea, etc.) as you would at home.
4. They Are Often More Affordable
Travel can be pricey, and especially in major cities it’s tough to find affordable hotel rooms. That’s where I’ve found that vacation rentals can have the upper hand. If you are travelling with a group, sharing a vacation rental with several bedrooms and shared common spaces can help the budget as everyone can split the cost. In Seattle we shared the home with my mom and she had her own beautiful bedroom, bathroom, and space to relax, while Justin and I also had our separate bedroom, bathroom and place for Hemsley to play. Aside from splitting the cost for accommodations as a budget saver, purchasing groceries and cooking some meals in a vacation rental kitchen rather than dining out at every meal can also help with overall food costs on a trip.
5. They Can Make Travelling With Kids Easier
While not every vacation rental is kid friendly, you can find ones that specifically are, and not only allow children or babies, but have extra amenities for the little ones such as change tables, pack-n-play’s, diapers, high-chairs, toys, books, and more. Things you wouldn’t often find in a hotel room. Our Seattle bungalow (and the place we will be renting in Maui next year) was well stocked with baby items that made our stay with Hemsley a lot easier. There was a pack-n-play for her to sleep in, a separate, dark room she could nap in, bath toys, a booster chair, diaper pail, and even baby lotions. We really had everything we needed for her so we didn’t have to lug along any extras aside from her stroller, car seat, and clothes. Since having Hemsley, I’ve noticed that babies tend to come with a lot of extra things. I still do my best to pack lightly when we travel and vacation rentals equipped with these extras help a whole lot!
If you haven’t ever stayed in a vacation rental or AirBnB, I hope I’ve convinced you to give it try! One word of caution…not all rentals are the same quality. Many people take great care in providing a beautiful, clean, well-stocked rental for their guests, a prime example being Christine, the owner of the Seattle Bungalow we rented, but unfortunately there are also people who rent dumpy places and don’t good care of them. Always do your due diligence and read the reviews first and don’t ever rent a place with bad or no reviews! I typically won’t rent a vacation rental with less than 5 reviews, and those reviews must be all positive.
Have you ever stayed in a vacation rental? Do you prefer them over hotels? If so, why? I’d love to read about in the comments below!
Christal // NITK