Generally, I do try to relate helpful toddler-related travel ideas and tips. I promise, though, that this post is not a rant. I’m trying to work out for myself why it’s 2018 and I still kind of refuse to use Airbnb. Am I just being obstinate? Have I been living under a rock? Has my WiFi been out for the last 8 years?
Allow me to explain.
I Love Hotels
I can’t help it, I do. Linens I don’t have to wash, room service, people who will park my car for me. I know, rooms can be small. If my daughter falls asleep at 7 pm, the lights in the room are off and I need to use my Kindle or hide out in the bathroom. It’s more challenging when traveling with multiple generations, as you have to book multiple rooms. Still, I think hotels have a lot of advantages.
- You know what you’re getting. If you stay at an Embassy Suites or Hyatt Regency, you know what to expect. If you have an issue, you can speak immediately to the front desk to get something fixed.
- You know exactly where it’s going to be. If you need advice on how to get around safely, you can ask the concierge or desk staff. There’s some extra security in staying at a hotel. There’s a room safe, desk staff, multiple locks.
- If your flight is early/late, it’s no big deal. Most hotels will store your luggage for you for no extra charge, and many may allow you to check out a little late if they have availability.
- Most hotels will provide a crib/pack and play free of charge. Anything you don’t have to lug through an airport works for me.
I’m Overly Paranoid
Or maybe not. I feel like I am reading more and more stories of how people did not have their expectations met by a vacation rental. At the worst, people are victims of a crime, scammed for thousands of dollars or worse. At best, you arrive and the place is not as advertised.
I do have friends who rent out their house on Airbnb and they are good people. They’ve had good success with it.
I just feel like I spend a lot of money on my vacations, and I like the certainty of staying in a known quantity. And I don’t always trust user reviews.
Does it really save money?
I feel like when Airbnb first appeared, it definitely was cheaper than a hotel. Nowadays…I just looked at places to rent in Copenhagen and for my family to stay in a desirable neighborhood in a home from a vetted user, the cost is equivalent to a hotel.
Now, again, if you travel with more than 3 people, renting an apartment can save you money and probably some headaches.
I have Booked Vacation Rentals on Other Sites
Before you think I am a total philistine, I have actually booked a home rental on 2 sites that are not Airbnb: Home Away and a property management company in Kauai called Villas at Poipu Kai. Both times I’ve had a very good experience, particularly at Poipu Kai (you can read about our Hawaiian adventures here and here). Still, I do not usually jump to a vacation rental company.
I am intrigued though by Kid and Coe. It’s a vacation rental company designed for families who travel with young kids. They vet the properties ahead of time, and ensure they have family amenities including toys, games, beds for the kids, etc. Let me know if you have used their service before, as it does sound appealing.
I think it’s about the Experience
For me, traveling always used to involve hotels. When I was growing up, my mother loved hotels (well, room service because who doesn’t?), my dad loved tennis, and we all loved a pool. A hotel with a tennis court and room service was a natural fit. We learned a lot about each other during those vacations, too. My siblings and I would share a room, and it felt like part of growing up. So for me, a vacation means a hotel.
I guess my other issue with Airbnb is that I cook often when we are at home. When we travel, I like restaurants. I like people bringing me delicious food and I do not have to dishes. I don’t mind having snacks or small breakfast items in the room, but in general, I’m not that into cooking on vacation.
Is it really sustainable?
I live in Los Angeles, and like many cities, the vacation rental market is a topic of concern. Is it driving up fair housing prices (which let’s be honest, weren’t all that “fair” here anyway) and eliminating affordable apartments? And I know it isn’t just here. I feel like I read stories every day about the struggle to regulate (and tax) the short-term rental market: in Sydney or Venice or Vancouver. So I do wonder often about whether it’s better to stay in a hotel or Airbnb from an ethical perspective.
I’m Happy to be Proved Wrong
I know, I’ve read a lot of stories from people who love Airbnb. It has rapidly changed the face of travel. I would love to hear all of your great stories of using Airbnb. Honestly, I know I’m probably still stuck in my 2009 mindset, and I’ve read way too many novels (don’t read The Apartment by S.L. Grey if you’re considering a vacation rental). So, convince me. Maybe it’s time I move out of the dark ages.