Traveling for extended-periods of time is truly rewarding; however, it can cost a lot of money when you’re responsible for rent or a mortgage payment along with many other bills on top of it all. It can honestly be cheaper to live in a hotel (and earn points) in some cities than to have a place of your own when you add up all of the expenses.
With the rise of the sharing economy, it seems to me that the “American dream” is drifting towards one of freedom and mobility rather than being tied to a home base filled with stuff. With that being said, I’m starting to notice that many people are starting to gravitate towards more of a nomadic lifestyle. In the peak of my traveling days (specifically when I took 90 flights in 2013), I subsidized my cost of living by renting out my place on Airbnb to other travelers while I was on the go.
Now that I’m a mom, I live vicariously through the people who have the infinite freedom to jet around on a whim. I especially enjoyed Ben’s journey and life-lessons learned when he spent a year traveling and living in hotels. Don’t get me wrong, I still get my travel fix as much as I can, but I definitely need a “home base” for little ones.
I was surprised when I recently learned that around 25-30% of guests staying in extended-stay hotels (specifically Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham) are there for 30 days or longer. Of course, I assume a large percentage of those may be business travelers, families near a military base, or people in-between homes, but I also know that the number is increasing for general travelers.
What is an Extended Stay Hotel?
An extended-stay hotel is designed to feel like “a home away from home” often with shared apartment-style amenities. Some of extended-stay hotel brands that you may be familiar with include Marriott’s Residence Inn, Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham, Hyatt House etc.
Each room involves a full kitchen or kitchenette, and most offer free Wi-Fi and have laundry facilities on the premises. These were originally fashioned to cater towards long-term business-travelers, allowing them the amenities of a home while on the go.
With the increase in travelers staying in extended-stay hotels, many brands are trying to emphasize the “home” factor to enhance the guest experience. For example, Wyndham Hotel Group’s extended stay brand just introduced Homemade @ HawthornSM– a program that provides access to easy recipes in your room. A home-cooked meal is a comfort most travelers don’t get to enjoy, but this program is attempting to change that.
Wyndham also just recently announced that you can now redeem your points at over 17,000 condos and homes in their portfolio, so even from a points-perspective, there are now options to enjoy a home on the go.
Advantages vs. Disadvantages
For those who are constantly traveling and have no desire to be held down by a lease or mortgage with tons of expenses, it’s a wonderful option to consider “living” in an extended-stay hotel. For example, I live right outside NYC and pay $2650 for rent and that doesn’t even include utilities. It would be very tempting, especially if I were single, to consider short-term “housing” (1-3 months) in hotels around the world. Other advantages include housekeeping, commitment-free, no utility/wifi/tv bills, the ability to travel freely, and of course – earning points.
Of course a big disadvantage is being “homeless”. A place to call home is sometimes nice because it’s a space to call your own, and you don’t have to move constantly. This is one of the biggest disadvantages to living in extended stay hotels because it’s not a permanent home and often times, that can be daunting.
Overall, I believe this rising trend of hotels turning into homes is only going to continue to get more popular as the American dream further shifts from “owning more things” to “doing more things”. The sharing economy is growing exponentially, and more people are moving away from having responsibility to “stuff”.
What are your thoughts about living in hotels? Have you done it? Have you ever thought of dropping everything and living this way? Feel free to discuss your thoughts.