When you’re traveling, your accommodations are probably your biggest decision and your top priority. Travelers have more lodging and accommodation options than ever before, so it can get overwhelming.
How do you know what’s right for you?
The following is a guide to some of the most popular and commonly booked accommodations in travel to give you an overview of what to expect from each.
Hotels and Resort
The most popular, traditional type of accommodation options are hotels and resorts. Hotels tend to be flexible and convenient. They’re often located in central business districts and key tourist areas, and you can find something in nearly every budget.
People on business trips often stay in hotels, and sometimes families do as well.
Some hotel rooms will accommodate a single guest or couple, while others will accommodate up to four. There are also family suites.
When you stay in a hotel, you’ll have a private bathroom, often a small fridge, and sometimes a mini kitchen. Many hotels will offer complimentary breakfast, and you’ll usually receive housekeeping service on a daily basis. You’re provided with necessities like clean linens and towels, and some toiletries.
When you stay at a hotel or resort, there’s the advantage of onsite staff and often a concierge team. They can help you with any questions you might have, not only about the hotel itself but also the surrounding area you’re visiting.
While hotels and resorts can be grouped together, there are some differences.
A resort is a self-contained location with everything you need onsite. Resorts include shopping, dining, and entertainment. There are often full gyms, pools, and recreational amenities. When you stay at a resort, if you never want to leave the property, you don’t have to.
Resorts are more about experiences, while hotels are primarily for lodging, although they may have onsite dining and conveniences.
Resorts may be very private and isolated, whereas hotels can be in the middle of bustling areas.
A resort can be a great option for travelers who don’t want to have to think about anything when they’re away and they simply want to relax.
All-inclusive resorts take things a step further. Everything is included in the price you pay at booking. This includes meals and drinks, many services and activities, as well as gratuities. All-inclusive resorts often include water sports and other activities in the price.
Once you arrive at an all-inclusive resort, you can leave your wallet in your room since everything is paid for in advance.
This is good for travelers who want to set a budget and stick to it and not have to worry about what they’re spending when they’re traveling.
An all-inclusive resort is often a destination in and of itself.
If you’re going somewhere like an island where there’s not much to do anyway, all-inclusive resorts are a good option. On the other hand, if you’re going somewhere you’d like to explore, all-inclusives can make you feel like you have to stay on-site all the time to get your money’s worth.
A hostel is a casual place for people who want to stay somewhere cheap. There’s also a social element to hostels, and they attract solo travelers and backpackers in many cases.
Hostels offer private and shared rooms and also shared bathrooms.
The shared rooms can hold anywhere from two people up to 20 people in dorm-style rooms.
There are hostels that might have a theme, such as being a party hostel. The level of amenities provided varies quite a bit. Some will offer towels and toiletries, and others won’t.
Motels are actually becoming trendy again, as people are buying them and revamping them. Motels are accommodations that have similarities to hotels because they do offer some level of services, but not as much as what you get at most hotels.
Hotels are usually larger and enclosed, while a motel has outdoor room entrances and is typically no more than two floors. If you stay in a motel, you don’t have to go through a lobby to get to your room.
If you want good value and don’t care as much about amenities, motels can be a good alternative to hotels.
If you’re taking a road trip, motels tend to be convenient as well because they’re often located off major highways and interstates, and you can pull right in and rest after a long day of being on the road.
As a result of being near roadways, if you want to do sightseeing, motels aren’t a great option because they tend to be outside of tourist areas and central areas of cities.
Bed and Breakfast
A bed and breakfast is like a small inn that’s often run by an individual, couple, or family. Bed and breakfasts are usually in old homes, and the goal of this type of accommodation is to make you feel like you’re cozy and truly staying in someone’s home.
If you like to interact with other people when you travel, a bed and breakfast might be right for you.
There are usually scheduled events every day, and the innkeeper can provide you with recommendations for what to do while you’re in town.
Every morning, guests will usually eat together, or they might come together during a cocktail hour in the evenings. If you aren’t especially social, you might skip the bed and breakfast setting.
There is less privacy overall, but your experience is very personal.
Airbnb or Home Rental
Airbnb is the largest peer-to-peer hospitality exchange service in the world, and it’s been a major disruptor to the hotel industry. On Airbnb, hosts rent out their property to short-term renters.
You can use Airbnb and similar platforms to book shorter stays of seven days or less, and you can also use it for long-term stays.
When someone lists their home on Airbnb, they can set their prices for individual nights. They can also set prices for weekly stays, cleaning fees, additional guests, and more.
An Airbnb or rentals like apartments in Pflugerville can be a good option for travelers who want to get an authentic feel for where they’re staying because they’re often located in actual residential neighborhoods, near markets, and other things locals rely on.
They can be a good option for families who want space and amenities that will make things easier for them, like full kitchens. You might also find a rental with laundry, and otherwise, this is something you’d pay a premium for in a hotel.
You can stock your refrigerator in an Airbnb and prepare your own meals, saving on the overall cost of your trip.
The downside of Airbnb is that you’re on your own. While the host might be able to give you a few tips for your trip, you mostly have to figure things out on your own. You also don’t get housekeeping unless it’s specifically mentioned. While the property will have things like linens and towels, you may end up washing them, depending on the length of your stay.
The check-in process for an Airbnb can be challenging. You don’t usually get the address of the property until a few days before your check-in. Then you have to be in contact with the host to figure out the process.
You may also feel on edge staying in someone else’s home.
Traditional Vacation Rentals
There are other whole-home vacation rental options that are more traditional than Airbnb. For example, you might go through a rental company and get a cabin in your destination or perhaps a condo.
When you go through a traditional rental company, you’re not directly dealing with the property owner. The rental agent will answer questions you have. Most rental agencies require a deposit when you book, and then you pay in full right before your travel dates. There are often strict check-in and check-out times.
You may pick up a key at the rental management company’s office, and they’ll often give you a welcome packet.
When you rent a timeshare, you can do so either through rental platforms, or you can book directly with the company, much like you would a hotel.
If you’re renting someone’s timeshare, there will be onsite amenities in most cases. Many timeshares will include kitchens or at least refrigerators and microwaves, and the spaces tend to be much larger than hotel rooms.
Some of the units will have balconies and outdoor spaces. They will also include, in many cases, a separate living and dining area, as well as a washer and dryer.
Timeshares might also have luxurious onsite amenities like a resort, such as waterparks, golf courses, and casinos.
There are pros and cons to each type of lodging, and ultimately your decision is going to come down to a few main factors.
Budget is a big one, but also the level of interaction you want with other people, the amenities you expect onsite, and how much work you’re willing to put into your rental. For example, if you rent someone’s home, you’re expected to tidy it up before you leave, at least somewhat.
On the other hand, if you want everything taken care of for you, you might opt instead for an all-inclusive resort.