Four Hotel Alternatives that Just Make Sense for Families

Grand Floridian Water

This post is sponsored by one of my favorite hotel alternatives, Vacatia. All opinions are my own, but they definitely make sense so please keep reading!

We love a fab hotel just as much as the next family, but there are times when we want more: more beds, and more room to move, ya know? It’s times like these when we start looking beyond the classic hotel room and to hotel alternatives that are just as cost-effective and affordable. Here’s our top four that will make you think twice before booking a hotel stay.

Beach view


AirBnB is growing by leaps and bounds these days and it’s easy to see why. It takes no time at all to start searching its database to find a great deal- but buyer be warned. As many good deals and amazing reviews as you read it seems there are just as many not-so-good ones. There’s one way to make sure you get what you pay for, though. Make sure you contact the AirBnB owner, look very closely at the photos, and read the details twice- and then read them again. You may think you’re getting a great deal, but when it comes to thinking you’ve got an entire house to yourself but end up in one of the bedrooms sharing a bathroom the deal may not be so perfect after all.

House Swapping

We love the concept of house swapping. You love your house so much that you feel comfortable changing zip codes with someone else that loves theirs just as much. But sis you know there are three styles of house swapping?

  • Simultaneous Exchange: You can stay in your exchange-partner’s home while they stay in yours
  • Non-Simultaneous Exchange: You stay at a home-swapper’s second home or vacation home
  • Hospitality Exchange: You can stay as a guest in a swapper’s home¬†while they’re also in the house

There’s also things to consider before house swapping like food arrangements (will you be providing food for your guests?), linen arrangements, and key swapping. While the concept can be free, many companies like Love Home Swap, HomeLink, and HomeExchange may charge an annual or even monthly fee for hooking home owners up.

Condo Rental

Hotel Alternatives

Vacation, AKA condo, rentals are hugely popular, especially for larger families. The biggest tip for saving money when renting is to look for super popular destinations as the more opportunities to rent one, the lower the pricing. There are important questions to ask before signing any contract but for a condo rental definitely ask the following:

  • Are pets allowed?
  • Condo listing says everything is included. What’s “everything”, exactly?
  • Is there an emergency contact?
  • What’s the refund policy?
  • What’s the cancellation policy/policy for leaving early?

Condo rental tip: If you really want to save some serious cash, consider renting a condo during off-season and comparison shop.

Resort Residences

Grand Floridian Room Walt Disney World

You may be reading this and thinking, “What?” The first time I heard the term was during a visit to Walt Disney world when I had the pleasure of meeting the fine folks at Vacatia who coined the phrase. A Resort Residence is the best of both worlds: the perks of staying at a hotel (housekeeping, on-site staff, and hotel amenities like pools, lazy rivers, and water slides), but with the room to spread out like a condo or house swap. In a nutshell, owners list their unrented resort residences and set a price. Vacatia filters through their choices adding photos, layouts, and amenities so all you have to do is pick your favorite. My favorite perk of renting through Vacatia? They’ve partnered with Walt Disney World and Disney Vacation Club to rent DVC properties including Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.¬†

Resort Residence tip: If your dates are flexible, consider vacationing during off-season. You’ll enjoy lower crowds- and lower prices! If you really want to save, here’s a ton of free things to do with kids in every state!

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