Thinking Ahead

Europe Without Hotels, New York Times

If a perpetual traveler pays an average of $100 per night for hotel accommodations, over the course of a year he’ll pay an amount roughly equivalent to the annual mortgage and property taxes on a $600,000 house.  That is kind of insane.  And it’s not like $100 per night buys you opulence in most of the developed world, or even a working kitchen for that matter.  It isn’t all that hard to find Comfort Inn’s that run about that much.  No, mostly what that steep cost buys is the convenience of a temporary location.   But that is still a pretty egregious mark-up for convenience.  Even if it were affordable, there is something basically wrong with paying that amount of money to rent a small room.  So we’re always on the look-out for alternatives. is one such alternative, and one we’ve obviously taken to.  It can be a fairly economical way to see a continent, although perhaps a little less so when the depreciation expense of your rig is included.  Nonetheless, once we finally decide to leave these shores, it is entirely possible that we’ll trade our large American bus for a much smaller European “camper van.”  I understand many European campgrounds sit just outside the major cities, and it is hard to imagine a better way to explore the countryside than with a motor home.

Even if we go that route, we’ll still want to spend a couple of nights, or maybe even entire weeks, in places like Paris and Prague.  On those occasions, we’ll need to find lodging.  So it’s nice to see innovative alternatives to traditional hotels becoming available.  We’ve considered renting an apartment in select locations for weeks or months at a time.  We’ve also considered doing “house swaps” with someone who wants to trade access to our New York City area pad for a house close to a different great destination.

And now I see this, from the New York Times: web sites that act as exchanges for people looking to rent out their living space.  In practice, this seems like a mix between Bed and Breakfast and an apartment rental.  On the one hand you have the “strangeness” of sleeping in someone else’s home, but also the benefits that come from making contract with a knowledgeable local.  Quite like a B&B.  We’ve found the B&B experience worked pretty well for us in the past, and I don’t see how this would be much different, except for the lower price tag, of course.  Another benefit is the potential access to a real kitchen, something you only get with a full apartment rental or very high end hotel suites.

So called “peer-to-peer hotels” are not necessarily something we’d look to avail ourselves of now, although it might be worthwhile to try out if we make it up to Montreal or Quebec City this summer.  But it is definitely good to see alternatives to, and competition for, the chronically over-priced traditional hotels.  Three cheers for the internet!

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2 Comments on “Thinking Ahead”

  1. Gary Wyatt July 21, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    I really hope to make it to Europe some day,and your ideas of accomadations may truly get me there. Thanks! I’ll keep you posted!

    Hope you guys let me know when you make it to Hannibal, Missouri. I’ve been in touch with both of the “girls”,and hopefully they will remember me as the guy who’s really gung ho on Twain,and has given them some tips of how things fare with the Mark Twain buildings there. I am about 2 hours away,and would enjoy meeting some Literary travelers.



  2. Neil Laubenthal October 14, 2010 at 10:18 am #

    If you would care to entertain a few questions about full time RVing via email . . .please let me know and I’ll send some along. As I said in another post . . .this is something my wife and I are considering doing in a year when we early retire . . .and lessons learned, costs, pros/cons/etc are all good things to have a dialog about with somebody who’s done it.


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