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How to Pick the Perfect Place to Stay on Vacation

Kelsey Tharp | Oct 7, 2019

Perfect Place to Stay

Each year, more than a billion people travel — that’s a lot of people. 

All travelers are unique. Some may venture out on a solo journey to Patagonia and others may cram three generations of their family into an oversized van and spend two weeks cruising the California coast. Each group requires a different type of accommodation. With such a variety of options, it can be difficult to know what works best for you on a vacation.

If you’re confused about what to book for your next trip, you’ve come to the right place.

The list below comprises the most common places to stay during a vacation. If you’re interested in staying in a cave or in a large treehouse, you won’t see options like them on this list. Try this Wikivoyage page to learn more about unique places to stay. 

If you’re planning to stay in a hotel, houseshare, motel, or hostel, check out the pros and cons below to find the best fit for you.



When you book a hotel, you know exactly what you’re getting — a specific check in and check out time, your own room, complete with a  bed, and a private bathroom — everything you need to be comfortable during your vacation. This no-surprises type of accommodation is perfect for a group traveling with young children. You’ll know that you and your family members will have a comfortable place to stay when you’re renting a hotel room.

Hotels are often very close to the action, making walking or driving to wherever you need to go a breeze. They also have plenty of amenities! Want a continental breakfast? You’ve got it. Need to take a swim? No problem. Feel like hitting the gym? Go right ahead.


This convenience comes at a price. The average cost of a hotel in the U.S. is $260 for one night. Yikes. If you’re a budget-conscious traveler, this likely isn’t the best option for you.

House sharing


House sharing can be a gamble, but the odds are pretty good that staying in one of these will greatly enhance your travel experience. For instance, you can find an amazing host who gives you a ton of awesome restaurant recommendations. This happened when I stayed in an Airbnb in Nashville (If you’re in the area, eat at Five Daughters Bakery. You’re welcome.).

Your host may even include breakfast! An Airbnb host baked blueberry scones every morning for my fiancé and me when we stayed in a Michigan Airbnb. I still dream of their blueberry goodness more than a year later.

Like hotels, house shares can also be in a central location. These are also better for large groups! If you’re traveling with an entire entourage, you can book a really cool home that fits your entire gang — and still have space to spare.


House sharing is much more mainstream than it used to be. It’s still cost effective, but the excellent deals of the early 2010s are becoming increasingly rare.

House sharing can also be unpredictable. It’s extremely important to read through your hosts’ reviews before committing to a room. Without doing this, you could be in for a nasty surprise — loud neighbors, a dirty space, even finding out that your host is running an illegal Airbnb! The last example happened to a coworker of mine. When he showed up to check in for his Airbnb, he wasn’t able to get into his room and had to find another place to sleep last minute.

Where you’re staying may not have all the amenities of a hotel, though if you’re renting a larger space, like an entire house, this isn’t always true.



If a hotel and a house share had a baby, you’d get a motel. Like house shares, they’re typically cheaper than hotels and, like hotels, they often offer breakfast. When you check into a motel, you know what you’re getting, so this can be a good option for a smaller family.

These are great options for road trippers. The name motel comes from motor and hotel, so this makes a lot of sense. Motels are commonly located by highways, so if you need to stop for the day and you’re looking for a decent place to stay, try a motel.


Motels can be less than luxurious. Many are out of date and lacking in niceties. I checked into a motel once that had a lumpy bed and the previous occupant’s leftover KFC in the fridge. They generally don’t have amenities, so you can’t expect to go to the gym. While their location is convenient for a road trip, if you’re planning to stay in one while you’re on a vacation, it’s often not in the best spot.

Motels are only found in the U.S., so if you’re looking for an affordable place to stay on your European vacation, you’ll need to consider another option.



Hostels are the ultimate money-saving option. Depending on the city, you may be able to book a room for $20 a night. They are most commonly used by college-aged people and recent college grads because of this factor. You can find hostels in most major cities and on every continent, besides Antarctica.

They’re a great place for solo and adventurous travelers because they’re full of other solo and adventurous travelers. They also have kitchens, so you’re able to cook your own meals so you don’t have to go out to eat every day. 

If you’re planning on this option, make sure to review a reputable site, like Hostelworld, for reviews before booking your room. Some hostels have age limits, so make sure you’re within these if you’re planning to book.

Many people are often concerned about sharing a room with someone they don’t know at a hostel, but some hostels offer rooms that only have two beds, so you and a travel companion can enjoy your privacy.


Hostels can be scary. Depending on the type of room, you could be sharing a room with some questionable people. If you aren’t into sharing, this is definitely not for you. If you’re staying in a large room, you have no control over the other people in the room which means you could be subject to their schedules. If they come back after a night of drinking at 3 a.m. and are loud you’ll have to deal with it.

The next time you’re ready to hit the road, spend some time thinking about what type of travel experience you want, and incorporate that into your choice of accommodations. With a little research ahead of time, the place you stay could add a lot to your vacation experience. Make an informed choice and keep these pros and cons in mind when you’re choosing where to stay for your next trip.

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