Price Check: Hotel vs. Airbnb vs. Car Camping

A wise man once said, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer,” but an even wiser man once said, “You don’t have to be rich to travel well.” At Luno Life we absolutely believe this to be true; money shouldn’t be a prerequisite to seeking adventure. Luckily, our products are made to increase affordability so that you can have the time of your life while still ballin’ on a budget.

To prove that you can’t put a price tag on fun, we broke down the same vacation with different accommodations at three different price points. We crunched the numbers for a trip from Friday, October 19, to Monday, October 22 to compare the cost of a stay in a hotel, an Airbnb, and car camping. The destination for this imaginary three-day getaway is the charming coastal town of Carmel, California. Carmel is one of our favorite destinations for a quick getaway. The city’s historic mission and the sprawling state beach make it impossible to be anything but happy when visiting.

Price Point 1: Hotel Carmel

First up on today’s episode of ‘The Price is Right’ is a luxurious stay at the Hotel Carmel. We were initially interested in booking our stay for the first weekend in October, but the hotel did not have any availability for those days. (You know what’s always available? Your car.) We settled on a date two weeks later and looked for a room that could accommodate two people.

We made sure to look at the cheapest bookings offered for the days of our trip to keep all things fair in love and war. In the end, the total for our three-night stay at the hotel came out to a whopping $1,445.

While the more than $400 nightly rate was lethal on its own, it was the $123 sales tax that really got us. $123 is like 24 five dollar foot longs. Or 60 bottles of two buck chuck at Trader Joe’s. Or 123 Sausage McMuffin from McDonald’s. You get the point. And don’t even get us started on the $16 that we would be charged for accidentally breathing too close to the weight sensor underneath the mini bar and unintentionally ‘purchasing’ a bag of peanut m&m’s. Alas, there are not enough m&m’s in the world to fill the gaping hole left in our wallets after this expensive stay.

Hotel Carmel Receipt:
Average $412/night. $1,237 total
Sales tax: $123
City Hotel Fees: $18
2 beers at the hotel bar: $14
= TOTAL: $1,445

Price Point 2: Airbnb

The second item on today’s episode is the trendy Airbnb. Most popular as an alternative to hotels,Airbnb is all the rage with the young folk these days. While the initial cost for a rental on the site may appear to be affordable, the bonus fees will get you in the end. A hefty $80 cleaning fee and even heftier $90 service charge are a real sucker punch to our bank accounts.

It’s not that we disagree with the practice of cleaning and service fees. We understand that they’re both a necessary evil when it comes to the big picture of operating an Airbnb. We’ll admit that there are certainly some pros to going the Airbnb route. The homeyness and additional space in these rentals is a massive plus. Unfortunately, the space overall has severely subpar mobility. Call us crazy, but we think that it would be really hard to move the entire living room up and down the coast as we do with our car. Just imagine lugging the bedframe with you everywhere you go. Thanks but no thanks.

Airbnb Receipt:
$185/night. $555 total
Cleaning fee: $80
Service fee: $90
2 beers at the local bar: $9
= TOTAL: $734

Price Point 3: Car Camping

Our final contestant today, and the reigning champion, is car camping. All we need for this stay is our Signature Air Mattress, a sleeping bag, and the open road. The cost of car camping is less than a fifth of the price of a hotel stay, and only a third the price of an Airbnb. The total for this weekend spent adventuring in a car beats the competition by too many Sausage McMuffins to count! Also, keep in mind that the low cost of an air mattress and a sleeping bag is just a one time investment. Unlike a hotel, a single payment now will save you tons of money in the future. Think of this initial cost as an entry fee for immeasurable amounts of fun in the long run since the purchase of an air mattress comes with dozens of future weekend getaways free of charge. It’s like BOGO but way better! The hundreds of dollars we save by car camping can be used to fund our next weekend getaway and the two trips after that.

We’ve waxed poetic about the merits of car camping before so we’ll spare you the nitty gritty this time around. Just keep in mind that no other accommodation can be taken from the mountains to the beach, to Monterey, and back. Because while the affordability of car camping is certainly a plus, you really can’t put a price tag on the freedom to explore.

Car Camping Receipt:
Luno Life Signature Air Mattress: $129
The North Face Sleeping Bag: $80
6 pack of beer bought at the 7/11 you saw on the way: $8
= Total: $217 (plus 4 bonus beers!)

The memories you will make: Priceless

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