This is the weirdest Cook for Good scrimp yet: rent apartments when you travel instead of staying in hotels. I’m just back from nearly a month in Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. We had an amazing, healthy, and affordable trip, in part because we rented apartments with kitchens through Airbnb for all but two nights. This let us eat two meals a day “at home” for big savings and less hassle. Here are seven reasons why I loved renting apartments through Airbnb, with tips on saving even more. [Note: this is an unsponsored post straight from my heart with the hope that it will help your travel rock.]
1. The savings on food.
We saved at least $30 a day on food by eating breakfast and one other meal “at home.” (Regular readers will notice that I packed cloth napkins.)
2. The savings on lodging.
Full apartments cost less than most decent hotel rooms, with an average of $119 a night and a range of $58 to $157. Here’s our glamorous modern kitchen in Prague, with a view of the city and a private balcony.
We did rent one apartment through another travel site for $220 a night, in Hallstatt where Airbnb places were scarce. Ironically, this most expensive place was also our only bad experience, with dangerously low ceilings and an off-site manager who locked us out a day early.
3. The space.
Nearly all the Airbnb apartments had separate bedrooms, living areas, and kitchens. Most had laundry facilities too. I often cook in hotel rooms when we travel, sometimes bringing a rice cooker and other equipment with me, but that isn’t practical for an overseas trip. My travel kitchen works fine, but it can’t compete with a complete, well-equipped kitchen.
4. The convenience.
Every kitchen was fully equipped with pots, dishes, knives, and some level of basic supplies, including oil and salt. We didn’t have to carry them from city to city. Sometimes we also found spices, a lemon, or a pot of fresh herbs. Planning was easier too, because I only had to find one grocery store per city plus one restaurant a day. Healthy, affordable, and convenient restaurants can be hard to find.
5. The warm welcomes.
All our hosts were friendly and offered useful local insider tips. In Berlin, our host met us at the airport in his classic London taxi. In Brno, our hostess greeted us with home-baked rolls and homemade apricot jam.
6. The fun.
I enjoyed exploring foreign grocery stores and kitchens. Our place in Leipzig had bunnies everywhere, offset with mid-century modern furniture and a Star Wars poster.
7. The relaxation.
After long days in crowded cities, we could kick back and dine at our own pace and in our own space. From this apartment in a 13th-century Salzburg building, we could admire the massive beams and hear many church bells ring.
Our savings let us travel longer and splurge on concerts, tours, and, in Vienna, on our daily vegan gelato. (Mmmm, chocolate and hazelnut!) We stayed healthier and even lost a little weight despite those gelati because we weren’t dependent on high-fat, high-sugar restaurant meals. The trip was greener because the sheets and towels were only washed once per stay instead of daily as at most hotels. Best of all, each host and place became memorable parts of the trip itself.
How to save more
As with hotel rooms, we could have saved more by staying longer in less expensive places. Berlin is more expensive than Leipzig and Prague is more expensive than Brno. Because Airbnb charges a one-time cleaning fee for each place, we also could save by staying longer in fewer cities. If you like to have more interaction with your hosts, you can also look for rooms within households that allow you to share the kitchen.