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Thoughts On Travel and Hotels, Part 1…

August 16, 2010 · 50 comments

in Personal Finance, Travel

A couple weeks ago, we packed up the car and headed south on vacation.  The first couple of days we stayed in Kentucky to visit Mammoth Cave.  The second portion of our travels took us to Tennessee, to visit the Smokey Mountains and also do some zip-lining.

While on this trip, we stayed in 2 different hotels (obviously).  The differences in hotels made me think about how important accommodations are, especially as your family size increases.

Hotel 1 was located in a town that did not have many hotel options.  Our room was the typical hotel room that had 2 double beds, dresser,  and a desk.  One room  is a very small space for 2 adults and 3 kids, and the space gets even smaller at night because we always bring an air mattress for someone to sleep on.   I must say I do not enjoy tripping/stepping over that air mattress as I stumble around at night to head to the bathroom.   However, it is totally worth it because 3 people in a tiny hotel bed is one person too many!   Anyway, our stay at the hotel was fine, but it was cramped and pretty uncomfortable.  However, the price was right at under $100 per night.

Hotel 2 was situated along a river in more of a resort area.  The room itself was more like a Condo.  It had 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, living area, etc.  There was plenty of room, and if someone was tired, they could go to bed without everyone else having to go to sleep too.  However Hotel 2 was over twice the price.

So, was Hotel 2 worth the extra money for us?  Absolutely.  When we go on vacation, I want comfort, and vacation is one thing I am willing to spend money on.  For me, trips are supposed to be a break from everyday life.  Therefore, I would rather wait to take a vacation where I can afford to be comfortable than rush a trip and end up crammed into a tiny space, watching every penny along the way.  However, to keep costs down,  I do take the time to plan far enough in advance so I can find the best deals and also find a hotel room that will comfortably accommodate our family.

What about you?  Do you think we are crazy to pay all that extra money for more space?  How do you like to travel?

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Money Reasons August 16, 2010 at 10:02 am

Do you think we are crazy to pay all that extra money for more space?
Not at all! I love being frugal, but when it’s so much inconvenience that it distracts from the vacation you are taking, well… Perhaps if the 1st hotel was a little bit bigger, it would be a close match, but since it wasn’t hotel 2 wins in my book too!

How do you like to travel?
We only have 2 kids, so we haven’t needed that extra matress yet, but even with 2 kids sometimes it’s a tight fix in the hotels. Ironically the house I am currently staying in on vacation has 7 bedrooms (with a total of 9 beds), but we only need 5 beds…


Kris August 16, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Money Reasons – Maybe you should have taken in a boarder for your vacation. 🙂 Have a great time!!


Susan August 16, 2010 at 10:19 am

NO WAY! The bigger, two rooms wins hands down! As a family of 5 I discovered very early on that I don’t like being cramped and it is just not worth it if mama doesn’t get her sleep. Everyone suffers when there is not enough space, especially with older kids and a teenage daughter. We are now looking at going on a cruise next winter and thought the kids could all share a room, well….some are balking at that, so we will have decide if it is in our budget to add a third cabin. I don’t think so, I think they (she) will have to suck it up and deal with it. Everyone keeps saying that you don’t spend much time in your cabin on a cruise, but I am somewhat of an introvert, so I need some downtime without all the people.

I love your tips and honest reality to real situations we all face. Thanks so much!


Kris August 16, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Susan – thank you for your kind words! Also, you are so right – if mom doesn’t sleep, then it can affect everyone. (Especially this mom.)

Have a great time with your cruise. I have never been on one, but I do think I would need some down-time too.


Squirrelers.com August 16, 2010 at 10:38 am

I think most people would try to do what you did. With 5 people traveling, it doesn’t seem too relaxing to be crammed into one small typical hotel room. A 2br seems to be more conducive to a fun vacation.

This can be done without paying 5-star hotel prices. Agree that if you plan well in advance and search for the best rate, you can get very good accomodations without breaking the bank.


Squirrelers.com August 16, 2010 at 10:42 am

By the way, Mammoth Cave is a neat place for a family to see. I went there with my folks as a little kid, then again with my Dad on a father-son trip when I was in my 20’s. Very interesting place, and a big change of scenery from the Chicago area. Looking forward to having my kids see it when older.


Kris August 16, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Squirreler – I love Mammoth Cave. That was the first trip my husband and I took together about 100 years ago. My kids are all at a good age now to enjoy it and not whine or risk falling on the cave tours. It is also pretty inexpensive. Have a good time when you get back there.


Budgeting in the Fun Stuff August 16, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Nope, not crazy at all. If it’s just me and Mr. BFS, we don’t need much space and can get by happily with tiny and cheap rooms, but if we travel in a group, I splurge and get the larger spaces so the others don’t get annoyed by me and they don’t annoy me…


Kris August 16, 2010 at 2:09 pm

BFS – If I traveled with people outside my family, I would need a ton of space. Especially if one of them is a snorer!


Budgeting in the Fun Stuff August 17, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Oh don’t remind me! I can’t sleep through snoring and a bunch of people we travel with snore LOUDLY. I can only get 3-4 hours of sleep a night when we travel with them…


Kris August 17, 2010 at 8:04 pm

BFS – I think I would find new travel buddies. I would be so crabby on 3-4 hours of sleep!


Suba @ Wealth Informatics August 16, 2010 at 1:14 pm

We have not stayed in a motel for quite sometime now. We have two types of trips. One is a planned week long (or more) vacation at least once a year. The second type is a long weekend trips 4-5 times a year. For the first type, we always go with comfort and take a condo type place (so that we could eat out only dinner and have the other meals at “home”). For the second type, we go much lower and just camp. But it is just the two of us, so space is never an issue – camping is perfect.

It also depends on what we will be doing during the day time. For example, we went to Cancun last year for a week. We know for 4 days we had a pretty full schedule, from early morning to really late night we were supposed to be sightseeing. The other 3 days, we didn’t plan anything, just hang out. So we used hotel points to book the first 4 days in a Hilton and went with an awesome all-inclusive for the rest of the 3 days. If we had booked an all inclusive for the whole week, I would have felt terrible for wasting the money for a place to crash. So in the end, it fit our schedule, was cheap and really fabulous!


Kris August 16, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Suba – Sounds like you have a perfect balance. I love how much you get to take little trips. I go away 4 or 5 times a year, but most of those are soccer tournaments!


Nicole August 16, 2010 at 1:21 pm

For us it depends on how much time we’re spending in the hotel. If it’s just overnight, so long as we get sleep and everything is clean we’re good.


Kris August 16, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Nicole, I agree- but it’s the ‘get sleep’ part that is hard if you have too many people in a bed! 🙂


Credit Girl August 18, 2010 at 1:12 pm

I couldn’t agree more with you on this one! Don’t get me wrong I love finding the best deals but when I go on vacation I need the comfort as well. I will not be camping in Hawaii when I could be staying on a resort hotel. My vacations are a way to escape and relax… I don’t want to worry about laying on a potentially bed-bug infested hotel room.


Kris November 29, 2010 at 11:34 pm

I agree! I have gotten to the point that I cannot stand staying in a standard hotel for the 5 of us. I will still do it if I have to, but I avoid it all costs!


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