Sunday, June 24, 2018

Motel or Condo?

Since it is the beginning of summer vacation, I thought I would share a few vacation tips with you guys. One of those tips is lodging! I think that's one of the most important things when planning a vacation.

In this blog post I will break down some pros and cons of two different types of lodging, that my family has used over the last few years.

First up is motels and hotels. Both can make for really great lodging accommodations and are usually very reasonably priced. It's really not hard to find a deal on (which uses Ebates) or (which provides booking without a credit card and you pay when you get there. Their cancellation policy is very lenient).

Advantages to staying at a motel or hotel

  • Usually, they are better for the budget and half the cost of a condo.
  • Some offer Continental breakfasts, which means that's one meal you do not have to plan in your budget. These breakfasts can include anything from a cold break fast (IE bagels, cereal, or donuts) to a hot breakfast (IE make your own waffles, eggs, or biscuits and gravy).
  • Most offer a microwave and small dorm type refrigerator. This can come in handy if you are a family that loves to snack or maybe eat lunch in your room. It's very handy to store bottled water, fresh fruit, lunch meat, cheese, condiments, and such. 
  • Swimming pools! Need I say more for the kids? Some motels/hotels are really upping their swimming game, complete with water slides and water falls. This can really help fill the family entertainment time and not break the bank, as it's already included for free in your stay. Most include outdoor patio furniture, so take your lunch poolside.
  • Your choice of daily maid service. You can get a fresh change of sheets, towels, and trash picked up with a simple phone call. If you are someone that loves to not worry about such things on vacations, it's covered!
  • Location. You can usually find a room near or right by the attractions you love faster than finding a condo. 
  • Pets. In my experience I have found more motels or hotels are willing to take in a family pet than a condo.

Disadvantages to staying at a motel or hotel

  • Noise. There are more visitors staying in a motel or hotel than most condo communities. There's usually more coming and going.
  • Space. Having a child with Autism, this can be crucial for us. Occasionally, she needs her own space to decompress and be alone. It's very hard to accomplish that in a motel room.
  • Although you do have a pool, so does 100 other rooms. If it's a peak travel time, you may find yourself elbow to elbow with everyone wanting to take advantage of swimming and sun.
  • Not having access to full amenities, say a full kitchen.

Next, I will talk to you about condos. Over the years this has really been a great option for us. It ticks all our boxes and offers the most amenities for our vacation. My favorite place to rent a condo for vacation has to be Homeaway. I find the site easy to navigate, easy communication with the owner, all fees are laid out for you upon booking, and I have found the most reasonable rates through their site. You can also find great coupons on Retailmenot and Ebates to use with your booking.

Advantages of staying in a condo

  • Being able to cook your own meals. We have noticed that we tend to spend less in the vacation grocery budget, when we are able to cook our own meals. We will generally cook breakfast and supper, then catch lunch prices at restaurants while out and about. It's always great to have a fully functional kitchen for those late night snacks.
  • Just like a motel most condos provide everything  you need. From pots, pans, towels, linens, and such. You just bring your clothes and food.
  • Having room! We found that a 2 bedroom is perfect for us. Our girls share a room and we have a room to ourselves. Going on vacation is a break from everyday life and to have some relaxation, for us having a quiet room to unwind and is extremely nice. It is also a big plus for families that have children with unique needs. Sometimes a cool and quiet room can do wonders for turning a day around. It really helps to have that space to decompress.
  • The amenities certain communities offer. Our past two vacation trips have been to the Appleview communities in Pigeon Forge. It's a gated community and offers so many amenities for staying with them. Among a few are: Pool, spa, town homes with screened in porches, game room, gym, pirate ship playground, access to a river, grills, and bon fire area. This can really help you out in your entertainment budget. These things are already included in your stay, take advantage of them! 
  • I have to say that the pool situation is a lot better at a condo versus a motel. In our experience their are usually a lot fewer guests using the pool during the morning hours, at some points we were the only family using the pool. 
  • Gated Community. More condo communities are offering gated communities these days and we love that! It's perfect for families that loe to go on an afternoon walk or bike ride. There's less traffic going in and out of the neighborhood.
  • Great neighbors! Most condo neighborhoods have permanent tenants and it's been a lot of fun for us to meet new people. This past vacation we met four different families that live there year round. They are great at giving you tips about the local area and we look forward to seeing them again next vacation.
  • Access to a washer and dryer. We have two kids, so this just goes without saying. Accidents happen and being able to wash clothes when you would like, it's something you really take for granted until you are off from home. I also pack less when I know I have a set.
  • Some agencies that handle condos and cabin rentals are willing to offer package deals. The most popular being "Stay X amount of days and they will give you X amount of days for free". I've known some to throw in certain tickets to local attractions and even a free breakfast at a restaurant.

Disadvantages to staying in a condo

  • Most require a refundable deposit upfront. In most cases you will be refunded about a week after returning home. 
  • Be careful of hidden fees. Some "resort" type condos will tack on daily facility and cleaning fees. Just make sure you check all fine print and your itemized bill before booking.
  • Repairs may take  bit longer compared to running to the front desk of a motel, you will need to contact the condo owner and proceed from there.

I hope this helps you on your next vacation planning. If you have any questions you can reach me at 

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