Are Vacation Rentals a Good Deal?

Is a vacation rental home a good fit for your next trip? Domestic CEO details 5 questions you should consider when determining when to choose a rental property over a hotel.

Amanda Thomas
5-minute read
Episode #153

When you are budgeting for a vacation, chances are that accommodations typically take up a bulk of your projected expenses. But with more and more vacation rental homes becomming available in most travel destinations, it’s worth taking a look to see if a rental property can provide more value than a hotel room.

While I am a big fan of staying in vacation rentals, they are not always a better deal than a hotel. So to help you decide if this option makes sense - and is a good deal - for your upcoming vacation, I have come up with 5 questions to ask yourself about your trip. If you are traveling with a group, make sure to also consider those you are traveling with when thinking about these questions.

How Many People Will Be Staying Together?

This summer, my parents will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, and we have decided to take a big family trip to the Great Lakes area in honor of this milestone. My 2 older sisters both have teenagers, so for the 10 of us going on the trip, we will need at least 4 bedrooms and 7 beds.

Knowing this, we started comparing hotel rooms to rental homes in the area. Even the most basic hotel accommodations were about $90 night, or $360 per night for the entire group.

Compare that to the 2500 square-foot, 5 bedroom house we found for $215 per night! For almost $150 less per night, we were able to get the right number of bedrooms and beds, plus a living room, kitchen, and outdoor spaces to enjoy together.

If you are traveling with a group of people who all want their own rooms, in many cases it is less expensive to get a rental house (or condo with multiple bedrooms) than to book multiple hotel rooms. This might not apply in some of the more popular areas, but in most parts of the U.S., a vacation rental home can be a more affordable way to stay.

Do You Plan to Cook?

Something that is often overlooked as an added value in vacation rental homes is your ability to cook your own meals. This can offer quite a bit of savings for your vacation.

Consider my group of 10: if we simply look at breakfast, the least expensive meal to dine out, it would still likely be at least $8 per person, after factoring in drinks and tip - or $80 for the meal.

Now, compare that to going to the grocery store, and buying a large carton of eggs ($4), a couple bags of frozen hashbrowns ($6), packages of bacon ($12), a jug of juice ($4), and a package of coffee ($7.) With all that, you are looking at about $30 for the same meal.

Multiply that by 7 days, and our vacation rental ends up saving us about $350 for the week. Now imagine we also cooked our own dinner a few nights per week, and we could save around $90 per meal. These savings are substantial! If you are able or willing to cook while on your trip, staying at a vacation rental home could save you hundreds.

How Many Vehicles Will You Have?

Depending on the size of your group, you may have multiple vehicles that require parking during your stay. So when comparing hotel rooms to vacation rentals, make sure you check if there is a fee for parking, how many parking spots are included, and if there is a cost for additional parking.

If you are getting a rental home in the suburbs, there may be space for 2 or 3 cars. But if you are renting a condo in the city, there may only be one parking space (or none!) provided - and the rest of the time, you’ll have to pay a daily fee in a parking garage.

The same thing applies to hotels: some hotels include parking for all rooms, some charge a daily fee to park in the garage, and others have mandatory valet. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples when determining the value of a vacation rental.


About the Author

Amanda Thomas Domestic CEO

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