The Most Annoying Thing About Perpetual Travel

As we evolve from a fast-traveling family who lived in hotels to a slow-travel family seeking mid-term rental homes, it has become clear that finding comfortable lodging is the most difficult part of being nomads.

More than once you could find me in this pose!
While traveling swiftly (moving every week or two), everyday I spent hours researching our next location and possible shelters.  Although there are many great resources for finding family holiday villas or hotels, the time still must be spent on the computer away from family and present attractions. And it's a lot of work!

In fact, it is one of the reasons we chose to slow down our travel, but finding a 6-month rental house has proven to be just as challenging as finding a decent hotel or vacation home while on the fly.  And the pressure to get it right seems more vital since we'll be there longer than "normal", for us anyway.

It's one thing to go to a not-so-great hotel in a bad location with crappy Internet and pillows that guarantee headaches but which you can leave after a night or two.  It's quite another thing to be stuck somewhere for 6 months or longer.

Our recent challenges to find housing while traveling in Hawaii and the exhausting task of getting affordable family lodging on the road motivated me to put together this list of considerations for fellow travelers:

5 Challenges for Finding Good Lodging

Comfort is obviously based on personal preference. After some extremely uncomfortable last-minute dwellings while fast traveling with nasty beds, see-through walls, squat toilets, broken showers and uninvited animal guests, we try to pride ourselves on being able to put up with almost anything.

However, we've also gotten a taste of some extreme luxury along the way as well which has spoiled our taste for roughing it. But some of the house-sitting gigs we had were TOO nice!  We were constantly worried about our rowdy offspring damaging something expensive.

Ultimately we prefer something in between a vermin-free dwelling with working plumbing, and a climate-controlled comfortably furnished mid size house.  What's clear, though, is that we desire more comfort the longer our stay is.

Cost is always a primary concern. Our total house budget including utilities is around $1500.

While we were able to breeze into nearly any hotel in Southeast Asia knowing we could afford it for a month if needed, that's not the case in most of the world. In fact, fast traveling can be very expensive just about everywhere outside of Asia or Central America. On our budget we are forced to slow down our travel in first-world countries.

In Hawaii it's proving to be most cost effective to rent an unfurnished house since second hand furniture is so easy to buy and resell with Craigslist. The furnished vacation homes here tend to cost double what the unfurnished homes cost. It is still a tough decision since we don't like to be tied down to things.  We plan to go minimal and not spend too much on any one item.

All 5 of us stayed in this room!
We've crammed all five of us into a single hotel room on several occasions.  It's doable for a few days, maybe for a week, but far from comfortable. We've also rented 2-BR condo-hotel suites, that were fine for a month or so. But for longer-term housing, we seek something larger inside and out. The baby gazelles like to run and the Mommy and Daddy like to bask in silence from time to time.  It is important to be honest with yourself about what situation will or won't work for your family!  Everyone will be different in this regard.

Location of lodging is crucial while traveling especially due to the cost of available transportation. There's a reason hotels near the tourist strip of restaurants and attractions are more costly because most travelers don't have vehicles.

Location is still very important for mid-to-long term stays.  We've found that springing for a vacation rental home for a month to check out an area before committing to something more permanent is wise.  There's only so much one can learn by researching areas on the Internet. You have to experience it and surrounding spots to get the feel for it.

Curiously, most advertisements on the Internet do not showcase the neighbor's cock fighting farm right outside YOUR window.  And yes we have actually encountered that, we passed on and walked away extremely grateful that we hadn't booked it sight unseen!

Booking hotels is fairly straightforward, as is booking a vacation rental.  Logistics are mostly taken care of by the website that facilitates the rental. Yet, concerns over security deposits for vacation rentals in foreign countries can be challenging.  There's not much recourse if the property managers decide to keep it for whatever reason.  It's best to get clarification upfront about what is covered and what's not in the security deposit.

Shorter-term rentals are significantly easier to deal with than longer-term.  Usually there's no credit check or hefty deposit required.  In America, for a 6-month lease, they do a background check, income verification, credit check and then make you sign a ream of documents.

No matter the type of property or length of stay, finding the right one can be a daunting task. There's no getting around the research that needs to be done to find comfort.  So, in the end, we're happy to not have to think about finding new housing for a little bit. Yet hopefully these considerations will help you when measuring your options.

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  1. The deposit thing is what worries me - we want to rent an apartment for 4 months in Chiang Mai, Thailand next year, and I've heard that scams where they keep a 2 month security deposit is common... grrr! Oh well, fingers crossed that it all works out!!

    1. Hi Sheralyn, If it makes you feel any better we have never had that happen and we rented an apartment in Chiang Mai 2 years ago. I have heard the stories too. I suppose you don't read tales of the rental that went all perfectly,ha! All you can do is hope for the best and be clear with the renter. Good luck!

  2. I did a 6 month unfurnished rental once in England when I knew I was going back to NZ but couldn't find anything furnished and had to go unfurnished. I ended up spending a large sum on a nice mattress and then getting everything else secondhand or the very cheapest new option (you can buy things like microwaves extremely cheap in the UK). That mattress was so dang nice. Nicest one I've ever had, and had to leave it after 6 months! Loved my 25 GBP couch too!

    1. Missing some comforts is definitely tough! I hate leaving pets behind or just not being able to have any:(

  3. Well when I and my family travel things are just not easy. checking, packing, unpacking and checking again Grrrrr!!!!! its so frustrating and most of the times annoying. My pet cat "Timmy" we feel soo sorry to leave her behind but we make sure that she is looked after by our housekeeper but it just does not feel right to leave her behind. Well traveling makes me so sick :) but once settled things are just soo GooooooD!!! :)