How to Live in a Hotel Full Time

Hotel pool

I have always loved staying in hotels. Not all hotels all the time of course. But when they are done right I love just about everything about them. Business travel was always a regular feature of my working life and between that and our personal travels, over the years I’ve stayed in a lot of them. Often I sleep better in hotels, even now with my wonderful Tuft & Needle mattress.

My guess is this is because staying in hotels is so completely stress free. Strange expensive sounding noise? Not something I have to worry about fixing. Loud neighbors move in next door? A call to management gets results or a move to a new room, usually with a free upgrade. Violent storm outside? I can relax and enjoy the show.

Every now and again I’d come across a movie where some character or another actually lives in a hotel. This always seemed the height of sophistication as they prepared to sally forth on some grand adventure.

But it also seemed something unobtainable, the stuff of fantasy. Too expensive, for starters.

At one point early in my career I was traveling so much around the US I considered buying and living full time in an RV. But those are cumbersome, require upkeep and are not cheap. Plus the enabling technology of laptops and cell phones hadn’t been invented yet. Keeping my apartment and returning to it each weekend was just easier. And living in hotels felt out of reach.

I failed to challenge my assumptions and continued living in the conventional way.

A few years ago I came across the homeless billionaire: Nicolas Berggruen, the richest minimalist on the planet.

Here was a guy living a life I’d dreamed about. He travels the world. He speaks three languages. His contacts are such that each day he has lunch and/or dinner with some intriguing acquaintance; be they a business associate, world leader, artist or author.

After living the typical billionaire life—owning multiple lavishly furnished homes, an art collection and a private island—he sold it all. He concluded:

“I am not that attached to material things. I have very few possessions…you don’t need much… a few papers, a couple of books, and a few shirts, jackets, sweaters.

“It fits in a little thing, in a paper bag, so it’s very easy.”

Everything he now owns fits in a suitcase or two: A couple of suits, some jeans and ­handmade shirts—monogrammed with his initials that he then wears “until they fall apart.” My guess is, as the shirts wear, he demotes them to casual service with his jeans. Just like I used to do in my business days with my not-handmade dress shirts. It’s like we’re brothers.

Other than the Gulfstream IV private jet he kept to get from hotel to hotel and a couple billion dollars. Sadly, I am not a billionaire.

Still, here was a model of what my ideal life might look like if I were.

Again, I failed to challenge my assumptions and continued living in the conventional way.

But my mind was slowly being pried open.

In late August we returned from our summer of wandering around the midwest visiting old friends, exploring new spots and a delightful three week stretch at Shamba, the beach house on the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin owned by my in-laws who graciously make it available to us.

JD Roth and me

We even had JD Roth and his lovely companion Kim join us for a few days.

It was our own experiment in hotel living homelessness.

We’d been in and had enjoyed our loft apartment for the last two years. We’d always wanted to live in a loft. High ceilings, brick walls, exposed ductwork: The whole chic industrial vibe. But when the lease expired, we were ready for a change.

Not only has renting proved to be far less expensive and far less hassle for us than owning our house, it provides far more flexibility. That’s one of the beauties of renting: It facilitates our restless spirits.

On June 30th the movers came, loaded up our worldly goods and packed them into storage. Homeless, we hit the road and gave them not a thought. Until August 24th, eight weeks later.

That morning the movers retrieved our stuff and delivered it to our new apartment where the furniture is now in roughly the right places and the boxes are stacked up in mostly the right rooms.

We certainly have far less now than when we owned the house and this move was much easier than the last. Plus as we settle in, still more stuff will be jettisoned making the next move easier still.

We are thrilled with our new place and the view out our 8th floor windows across the river to the setting sun is spectacular. But we are faced with the prospect of settling in.

As I wade through and toss the accumulated junk mail, I reflect on our hotel living summer experience. It was pretty sweet. There are few hassles, everything is made up and ready when you check in, settling in is a breeze, and you stay as long as you like and move on without a second thought.

In trading emails with my pal Akaisha of Retire Early Lifestyle she wrote:

“If people knew how great it is to live in a place like one of the above—why own a home? Why own a car? I realize some people want their own places, their gardens, workshops, music rooms and pets and such… but these places are super and they are basically stress free.”

She is exactly right. Both on how great this life can be, and how completely unappealing it will be to many. That’s fine. Roots v. Wings.

But is it affordable? Well Akaisha and her husband Billy have found it so, and they’ve been doing it over 20 years.

Jeremy and Winnie of Go Curry Cracker have been on the move for the last few years, most recently in a furnished apartment in Taiwan for 18 months or so. Of course, they just had a baby and as you’d expect things are going to change for them. They’ll be back on the road soon and plan more frequent stops and shorter stays at each. They spend no more each month than we do.

Meanwhile, the Mad Fientist is out wandering the world implementing his 3-6-3 plan.

And here’s what I wish I had read back when I was doing all that business travel on the company dime: Save Money Living in Hotels (Even though author Libby very likely wasn’t born yet)

What I’m beginning to understand is that, as Libby explains, so many costs fall away when you jettison most of your possessions what looks expensive ($100 per night over a month is $3000 after all) isn’t quite that bad.

Several modern things enable this. The key ones it seems to me are:

1. Laptops. Never before has it been easier to be location independent and yet connected.

2. Cell Phones. Same as with laptops. And if you choose right, incredibly inexpensive.

Here’s an example. Our daughter is in South East Asia with the Peace Corp. We talk on the phone often. Mostly it is as clear as if she’s in the room with us. Her monthly charge: $5. I pay $10.

Her $5 a month buys unlimited phone, text and data; provided she has wifi. With wifi she can call any US-based phone number from anywhere in the world.

My $10 a month gives me that and a seamless transfer to cell service when wifi isn’t available. When we were on the road, I stepped it up to the $25 plan for 3G and GPS. Now back, I dropped it down again. I can change like this twice a month. And (with wifi) I can receive her call anywhere in the world even if I’m in, say, Ecuador.

For someone old enough to remember when international long distance cost $10 a minute, this remains a little stunning. 

3. Rewards programs. Our longest stay at any one hotel this trip was 10 days. It was free. We used rewards points from various credit card, airline and hotel rewards programs. (Here are my recommended travel rewards credit cards.) Of course our biggest annual expense, rent, gets paid by check and earns no (horror!) points. But if instead of rent, we had only hotel bills each charged to our current favorite rewards card, imagine the points. And the free nights!

Still, my guess is hotel living would prove more expensive. Since I obsessively track costs and spending, after a year or two I’ll know for sure. (YNAB has great tools for this and is maybe The Best Place to Work Ever. Plus since employees there are location independent, you can live in hotels!)

If it proves too expensive, or should we just get bored with it, change is as easy as checking out.

For now, we’ll continue unpacking and settling in to the new place. But a year, or two, passes quickly. As I look around at our stuff, we’ve mostly pared it down to only those things we really enjoy having around. Still, never once in all my travels have I ever missed any of it. Or even thought about it.


Past Post Update, January 20, 2016:

Last October I did a post on: (not an affiliate, just cool)

Todd just added two cool new features:

  • Stock Wars: A tool that allows you to compare the performance of two stocks and/or funds.
  • Quizzes: I took both. I’m a “goat” in the first and a “coyote” in the second. You can do better. I dare ya!


Unrelated, but here’s what I’m currently or have just finished reading and enjoyed:

Turbo Capitalism

If you are interested in income inequality, this poorly titled (should have been Unfettered Capitalism—more accurate and more descriptive) is a great discussion of the pros and cons of our current system. Luttwak clearly has his own biases, but is remarkable evenhanded in presenting both sides.

Written in the late 1990s, it is a bit of a time capsule and fun to see how the past 20 years have actually unfolded.

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Important Resources

  • Talent Stacker is a resource that I learned about through my work with Jonathan and Brad at ChooseFI, and first heard about Salesforce as a career option in an episode where they featured Bradley Rice on the Podcast. In that episode, Bradley shared how he reached FI quickly thanks to his huge paychecks and discipline in keeping his expenses low. Jonathan teamed up with Bradley to build Talent Stacker, and they have helped more than 1,000 students from all walks of life complete the program and land jobs like clockwork, earning double or even triple their old salaries using a Salesforce certification to break into a no-code tech career.
  • Credit Cards are like chain saws. Incredibly useful. Incredibly dangerous. Resolve to pay in full each month and never carry a balance. Do that and they can be great tools. Here are some of the very best for travel hacking, cash back and small business rewards.
  • Empower is a free tool to manage and evaluate your investments. With great visuals you can track your net worth, asset allocation, and portfolio performance, including costs. At a glance you'll see what's working and what you might want to change. Here's my full review.
  • Betterment is my recommendation for hands-off investors who prefer a DIFM (Do It For Me) approach. It is also a great tool for reaching short-term savings goals. Here is my Betterment Review
  • NewRetirement offers cool tools to help guide you in answering the question: Do I have enough money to retire? And getting started is free. Sign up and you will be offered two paths into their retirement planner. I was also on their podcast and you can check that out here:Video version, Podcast version.
  • Tuft & Needle (T&N) helps me sleep at night. They are a very cool company with a great product. Here’s my review of what we are currently sleeping on: Our Walnut Frame and Mint Mattress.


  1. Conrad says

    Love the Blog Jim!

    That being said, I can’t really connect with the desire to live out of Hotels. Hotels are such sterile places. After a week in hotels, my wife and I just can’t wait to get back to our own stuff, or our own place etc. Everyone in a hotel is paid to dote on you, paid to be nice. That doesn’t feel very genuine to me.

    It just feels to me like there is a big flaw in the logic of moving constantly. How do you effectively build community? Sure, the internet helps alot, but the internet builds like minded communities, doesn’t put you face-to-face with people with drastically different perspectives (at least not like real life). I also love to travel, but I can’t imagine life without a solid community, one that knows me and one I can rely on for help or support. Perhaps it has to do with the sort of community I was raised in, but I can’t see how one can effectively build a solid group of friendships and also know one’s neighbors when you’re moving all the time. Sure, you can get to know some people, but then you move on while they stay put.

    But that’s my biggest critic of America as a whole. That we move constantly for better income, new experiences, and miss out on what its like to know a community, to be a real part of a place and gain that identity.

    Just two cents from someone who happily bought a house in a small valley town, and plans to spend the rest of his life there. I want FIRE and I want to travel; I just don’t see “Wings” and “Roots” as a zero sum choice. We’ll travel as much as want, while always call that house and community our home, the place where we know every other person we run into.

    Anyway, love the blog, love what you write: Just felt like I needed to rep the portion of FIRE that sees some major pitfalls in the nomadic lifestyle.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Welcome Conrad!

      I suspect you’ll have lots of company in not seeing the appeal. Very few folks, after all, live in hotels. 😉

      And I agree, FIRE doesn’t equal or require a nomadic lifestyle and that Roots v. Wings is not a zero sum choice. We are all at different point on the spectrum.

      But this is an option. And while I fully realize it will hold no appeal to most, it intrigues the hell out of me. 🙂

      Your “a house in a small valley town” sounds beautiful and I’d love to visit (assuming you’d have me) some day. As, you know, I’m passing thru. 🙂

  2. Claudia @ TCH says

    I guess if I tried hard enough, I could probably make any lifestyle work for me. I might even be able to make living out of a paper bag/private jet work. 🙂

    As Conrad suggests, I’m more interested in fostering community. If there are other hotel-dwellers to connect with, it would be easier to create such a community in what may seem like a “sterile” place.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      I suppose with enough effort and the right attitude we could make any lifestyle work is we had to. 🙂

      It’s interesting. Somehow I find it much easier to connect with people while traveling than at my home base. But that could be me. 😉

    • jlcollinsnh says

      No, but I took the ferry from Manitowoc to Ludington and spent a week going down the Michigan side coast looking for you…

  3. mike says

    I find your article interesting.

    It seems with technology and minimalism it can be inexpensive to live. The big expense is staying somewhere. (And the cost of travel.)

    I’ve never done couchsurfing, or sites like AirBNB, but I’ve thought, wouldn’t it be wise to open my home to others who in turn would reciprocate? I even have an extra vehicle that visiting guests could use. But liabilities, trust, would be huge issues.

    I definitely believe (as a society) we’ll be moving in that direction as time goes by.

  4. Stephen W. Gee says

    In January, I got rid of my apartment, tossed a bunch of my junk in storage, and hit the road. When I traveled to nearby locales (to see friends or relatives), I put some stuff in my trunk – mostly food or stuff to cook with (because I’m but a humble newbie author, and have not yet hit the big bucks … har har, maybe it’ll happen, probably not), as well as a few board games. When I went further abroad (many states away or overseas), I had a small backpack and a laptop bag.

    Very rarely did I miss any of it.

    Oh, there were a few things. The biggest was probably my weight set, to be honest. I’ve been lifting weights more and more, and I tend to do it alone (because if I have to go to a gym, I will draaaaaaag my feet until the gym is closed), so I missed having them all (though I did take my dumbbells with me when I went nearby). And in some places I went (my parent’s house, most notably), I didn’t have a good place to write, which wreaked havoc on my productivity.

    But other than those small items (okay, the latter was pretty big, I have books to write, but I figured it out eventually), I didn’t miss the rest of it. Changes of clothes I never seem to need. All sorts of pots and pans, when all I really need is one pot and one pan. Knickknacks I never think of.

    It’s not too bad. I’m getting an apartment again here at the end of the month, because being in one place is better for my work, but as for living? Going where you please isn’t bad.

    Personally, I think most people should try it at least once, see if they like it. They might!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Welcome Steven…

      I’ll have to read your book one of these days.

      All the hotels where we stayed had exercise rooms with weights. Pretty basic most times, but that just means you get to improvise. Of course I only lifted once the entire trip, but that’s on me. 🙂

      One of the beauties of renting is it is easy to slip from apartment to nomadic hotel life and back again. Worth trying for sure!

  5. Mad Fientist says

    I’ll need to point my wife to this article to try to convince her to live out of hotels permanently because I’d do it in a heartbeat.

    When we were traveling around Southeast Asia for a couple of months, we lived out of hotels and it was wonderful. Every couple of days, we’d move to a new place and see a new part of whatever city we were living in at the time. If we wanted a few days to relax, we’d just head to a hotel with a pool. If we wanted to do something else, we’d just move close to whatever it was we wanted to do and everything was always on our doorstep.

    I kept track of all of our costs and we averaged a 3.22 star hotel and we paid an average of $32.99 per night (less than $1k per month)! Granted, this is actually quite a lot for Southeast Asia but it allowed us to move around more and get to know all the different neighborhoods better so it was worth it.

    If you really focus on building up hotel points and keep up-to-date with all the hotel promotions, I think you could potentially save a lot of money by living out of hotels. Hopefully I can convince Jill to try it for a year so that I can test that theory 🙂

    • jlcollinsnh says


      Jill doesn’t faithfully read ALL my posts??!!

      Hotel living certainly makes geographic arbitrage a breeze.

      Maybe don’t try to convince to do it for a year, but rather to just give it a try. If she doesn’t like it, ending the experiment is as easy as checking out. 😉

      Thanks for checking in!

  6. Joe (arebelspy) says

    The wife and I FIRE’d a few months ago and are now traveling Europe–staying in Albergues right now while we walk El Camino de Santiago, but soon we’ll be living in AirBnB places for a few days to a few months at a stretch, and moving around (first Europe, then elsewhere).

    We got rid of everything save a backpack of stuff each, and a box of mementos kept in her mom’s garage (wedding album and such), and are definitely on board with the minimalist, live in somewhere that someone else will have to clean idea to travel the world.

    So this article was right up my alley–already doin it. 😀

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hey Joe…

      I seem to remember hearing you were about to do this. Well played!

      I’ve not walked El Camino, but I have been to Santiago. Gorgeous place.

      Any idea how long you’ll be wandering?

      • Joe (arebelspy) says

        Camino will be about 40-45ish days (we’re on day 16). Then on to Germany, then Eastern Europe.

        Ali is pregnant and due Jan. 31; current plan is to have the baby in Instanbul, Turkey. After that we’ll be doing the traveling with an infant thing, and looking to Jeremy and Winnie for tips. 😀

        Next flight to the states is May 2016 to see family and attend Camp Mustache III, but we’ll only be in the U.S. for a few weeks, and then off to explore the world some more (South America? Southeast Asia? We’re not sure yet.)

        But this nomad/minimalist lifestyle, as discussed in this blog post, is becoming more popular, from what I can tell. 🙂

        • jlcollinsnh says

          So you are actually walking El Camino? What a wonderful experience.

          The rest of your plans don’t sound too shabby either. 😉

          Please keep us posted and, in fact, consider a guest post here. Something along the lines of detailing how this works for you.

  7. MBS says

    I love hotels, too. I really appreciate the basic furniture– just a bed, desk, table and chair, and bathroom. I could even do without the TV since I watch most media on my laptop anyway. Maid service is fantastic. I like a clean room but I don’t like cleaning. Plus I’ve noticed that even moderately priced hotels have really nice bedding these days– better than the linens you can buy at a typical home goods store. Plus if you need some company, the lobbies and bars are often very comfortable.

    My one concern with hotel living would be using public WiFi networks all the time. They can be slow, and my understanding is that it’s not safe to do things like online banking on a public network. Do you have a concern with that? How do you handle it?

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi MBS…

      It is really striking how well laid out many hotel rooms are these days. In Cleveland ours had a bed, bath, full kitchen, sitting area and desk. All in maybe 120-150 sq. ft. And it never felt cramped. Shows what efficient design can do.

      And you are right about the bedding. 🙂

      As for the WiFi, I’ve only just heard about the risks. My understanding is that you want to avoid free WiFi from unknown sources as these can be traps. But from a name brand hotel it should be OK.

      That said, I’ve always avoided anything like online banking on the road. If I were living full time in hotels I’d probably only do it in the best brand places and then as infrequently and for as little time as possible.

      But I’m no expert.

      Maybe other readers can help?

      • Lynne says

        It’s better to skip the wifi and use your phone’s data connection for online banking, if you can.

        Https sites aside, it’s awfully easy to eavesdrop on traffic going through open wifi networks like the ones you often see in hotels. Traffic for most sites is not encrypted – it’s just transmitted in plaintext over the air, so don’t expect any privacy, unless you’ve set up a VPN. Banking sites are of course all https and do use encryption, so they’re not plaintext and you might be okay doing that even on an open network. I still avoid it on general principle, but I’ve done it once or twice. Nothing is 100% safe online anyway. Realistically…everything is broken. So my philosophy is, just take reasonable precautions and let the chips fall where they may.

        For a long time I’ve had a fantasy of owning no more than I can fit in a small suitcase and wandering the world. It’s like ultimate minimalism and freedom from possessions. Maybe I’ll do it someday, post-FIRE. 🙂 Hotel living sounds pretty awesome to me. I described this fantasy to a friend once and she didn’t understand the appeal at all, so it’s definitely not for everyone!

        • Elbow Wilham says

          As long as you are on an encrypted site (https) it doesn’t matter what type of connection you use, wifi or hardline. People can sniff your cable modem traffic too, if they want. If you are on https, it is encrypted from your computer to their server.

          I do business and personal banking from hotels all the time. Either using the hotel wifi, or my cell phone as a hot spot.

      • jlcollinsnh says

        Thanks Lynne…

        Very helpful. I also enjoyed the terrifying article you linked to. All my tech paranoia confirmed. 😉

        Yeah, I’m getting the impression that the concept of hotel living either instantly resonates or instantly appalls. 🙂

  8. Nikki T says

    Hi Jim. I have been a long time reader of your blog and just wanted to say “thank you.” You, and several other bloggers/authors, have helped me achieve a life that I thought was impossible less than a decade ago.

    In less than one decade, my husband and I went from being mildly in debt to financial independence. Four months ago, we sold our mortgage-free home and started traveling full-time.

    Here’s the shocker, we spend the same amount of money now as we did being mortgage-free homeowners.

    We use AIRBNB or VRBO to rent homes and stay one month in each location. If you stay 30 days or longer, there are BIG discounts and in some states, you don’t have to pay hotel taxes for longer stays.

    Being homeowners, we had to pay property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, HOA dues, maintenance, electricity, water, gas, landscaping upkeep… and we diligently tracked these expenses through software.

    We used that monthly amount as our budget for our monthly rentals. So far, for a years worth of rentals, we are only $33/month over our budget of $1000/month. We only rent places that we have the entire place (no room only rentals) and that have a decent kitchen (we save money by home cooking almost all meals).

    While some of the places are smaller than others, all have been in great locations. We have stayed in Queen Anne in Seattle, Hawthorne in Portland, Boulder in Colorado and in Bend, OR.

    I am still amazed that we can travel full-time to amazing locations for the same amount of money as maintaining a paid for home in the suburbs of Texas!

  9. Fervent Finance says

    I do enjoy staying in hotels, especially when I travel for work in big cities and can stay at a decent establishment like the Ritz. Also love building up the hotel reward points! Currently working on building Marriott up. Don’t know where I’ll use them, so I’m definitely open to domestic and international Marriott locations worth checking out. Hopefully you or MadFIentist will be the guinea pig for this lifestyle and spread the knowledge.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi FF…

      Well the Mad Fientist is already out there figuring it out and Go Curry Cracker seems to have it nailed down. I’m just dipping in a tow once in a while.

      With all your points you’ll have a head start when you begin. 😉

  10. LifeMaximizer says

    Thanks for the ideas. So many options for the FIRE’d! Can you share more details about the “the movers took our stuff and put it in storage” and the “the movers just removed our stuff from storage and delivered it to our new place”? How pricey is that? I would expect that to cost thousands if place 1 and place 2 are half a country away from each other on average. Wouldn’t that bust your budget?

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi LM…


      First, our new place is only two blocks from our old, so this wasn’t a long distance move. Ironically, the storage place was ~5 miles out. So ten miles round trip to move two blocks. 🙂

      —old place to storage = $533
      —storage to new place = $611
      —20×10 Storage Unit = $353 (2 months at $159 per + $35 security deposit)

      We asked around and found Grant Movers, a local uncle and nephew team, and they were great. Fast, effect, helpful and a pleasure to be around.

      Because it is easer to move in or out of a storage unit, my guess is apt to apt direct would have been ~$750-800. So our double move was more expensive, but not twice as much.

      Moving to the new place was more expensive because it is more time consuming for them to set up the furniture than to take it apart. This was especially true for my office set up which is large and cumbersome. They had to almost completely dismantle it to get it in the new place.

      Moving across country would be far more expensive, but the last time we did that was in 2000. If we do it again we will probably move much less and replace stuff we need at the destination.

      If we go full time on the road, I’d get rid of all our furniture and store only the art, rugs and collectables we’ve acquired on our travels. That should all fit in a 5×5 @ $42 a month or, worst case, 5×10 @ $60

      • jlcollinsnh says

        My pleasure!

        I should have added, that we also saved two months rent at $1645 per.

        Cool link and I’ve often wondered about housesitting.

        I imagine as an older couple we’d be in demand.

        But I don’t own a house because I don’t want to do household chores and maintenance. LOL

  11. Travis Thompson says

    Love reading your thoughts and musings. In our early twenties, my wife and I divorced our belongings and wandered the New Zealand islands with only what we could carry on our backs. I revisit those memories often while lost in the isles of home depot for the eighth consecutive weekend. Looking forward, we’ll revisit that life once our two sons approach middle school and pack them up for a year of “learning.”

    If you haven’t stumbled upon it yet, here’s a very well written guide on traveling and living in nice hotels for nearly free (this couple even posts all of their expenses online to show the true costs):

    Like anything in life, there’s a cost component to achieving this lifestyle but mostly in the learning curve of hotel points, flyer miles, websites, etc. and the willingness to travel to where the deals are.



    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Travis…

      and thanks for the link. I just skimmed it a bit a bookmarked it for later. Cool video.

      Speaking of well written, you turn a notable phrase or two yourself:

      “…divorced our belongings…”

      “…wandered the New Zealand islands…revisit those memories often while lost in the isles of home depot…” 🙂

  12. Tran says

    I also want to add my sentiments, similar to Nikki T’s above. Thank you, Jim Collins, for your practical blog. You have also made a difference in my life by imparting your knowledge. Your website gave me the information to restructure my investments, the courage to quit when I have “enough” in the pot, and the confidence to withdraw from that pot and how to do it.

    After selling my 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath house, and sold & donated everything except the most-needed clothes & papers (stored at Mom’s), I embarked on an extended world tour, starting with 3 months in Europe, with just one small carry-on suitcase and one under-the-seat suitcase.

    I’ve been in Europe for 2 months now—Paris, Nice, Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre, Rome, and now Amalfi Coast—living in VRBO rentals that I book as I go. Apartment rentals are much less expensive and nicer in city centers (where I want to be) than hotels, and I want the entire apartment to myself. So far I love living in temporary spaces, and can imagine doing so for the next 2 years of world travel. Living this way fits my particular personality, because I like exploring new places and meeting new people, but I don’t get attached to things and I like being alone.

    What I don’t like about traveling is packing/unpacking and carrying luggage. Lugging around 2 pieces of luggage (even if small) was a pain, so in Venice I ditched the larger piece (and a useless skirt) and packed everything into the smaller, under-the-seat suitcase. I wanted to travel even lighter, so in Florence I shipped half of my clothes to Mom. In Cinque Terre I shipped some more clothes back. Now I carry a laptop+cables (heaviest items!), smart phone+charger (need to replace with lighter charger), a light cotton jacket (need to replace with lighter, thinner raincoat), walking shoes, flats, flip flops, 2 tee dresses, 2 tee shirts, 1 thin cardigan, 2 pants, 2 silky scarves, underwear+socks, makeup+toiletries (will minimize further), and a small cross-body purse. Now I’m obsessed with traveling efficiently & light, so at the next opportunity I’ll ditch the mini suitcase and transfer everything into a day-pack.

    After reading this blog post on hotel living, I booked a room at a boutique hotel in Colombia for 3 weeks in November instead of a VRBO rental to see what living in a hotel room without a kitchen will be like. I like experimenting! It would be better if I like hotel rooms, because 1) I can take advantage of various reward programs, 2) some hotels provide free breakfast, and 3) I don’t have to buy & carry shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc.

    As for deeper human connection, I’m lucky to have close relationships with my mother, brothers, and niece & nephews, and they have and will travel with me for a week or month at a time. Having a caring home base gives me the freedom to roam without feeling lonely or alone in the world.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Tran…

      Great to hear this site has been of help!

      “I like exploring new places and meeting new people, but I don’t get attached to things and I like being alone.” Yep. Me too.

      Here in the US it is easy to find hotel rooms with kitchens and, remarkably, they are no more expensive that without. Not sure about Europe.

      Save journeys!

  13. Tom M. says

    I remember calling from Colorado to Illinois to speak to parents during college was prohibitively expensive.

    I remember traveling to New Zealand to backpack in 1983-84, and for one month, I never had any contact with any human I knew from before my plane landed. Phone calls were too expensive. Mail was too slow. I was lonely – but forced to meet new people – which was great. But, the world is a better place now. We’re in touch. Connected. Freed of the odd burden of feeling alone.

    It’s a new era.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      It is indeed!

      Like you, I remember traveling for a month+ with no contact with the folks back home.

      When I still had my corporate job, it used to drive some people nuts. But people learn.

      I remember one new team that was horrified that I was going to India and would be out of touch. And this was only for three weeks. I came back to a huge stack of unresolved issues.

      I explained that most everything in that stack they were perfectly capable of handling.

      The next year the stack was smaller. The year after that, smaller still. Along about year 4 it was, “Oh. You’re back? So soon?” 🙂

  14. Ann says

    I read an article about Nicolas Berggruen’s minimalist adventures a few months ago. I wish I could find the article now. Apparently he started by selling everything he owned with the idea that he was going to spend his life couch surfing with friends and family. But he turned out to be the world’s worst houseguest, stealing his hosts’ shirts, and keeping crazy hours in homes with small children. So it didn’t take long before it was clear that couch surfing wasn’t viable, and he was going to have to ante up some money. And maybe buy a few more clothes. At the time that the article was written, he’d given in and bought a couple of condos. I’m not sure exactly where he’s gotten to on the minimalist spectrum now.

    I love to travel, but I also value the kind of friends and community life I can only get from being in one place for a period of time. I’ve found that for me, I need that sense of place, and anytime I move, it takes a few years to rebuild. So I can’t imagine nor having a “home” to always return to, even if it’s a simple, small place.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Ann…

      If you find that article please post a link. I’d love to read it.

      Doesn’t sound like the same guy I’ve read about as I’ve come across no mention of couch surfing or condo buying. But there may well be more to his story than I know.

  15. Paul says

    Romantic billionaires excepted, what about lives of the misanthrope who prefer the solitude and self-sufficiency of hotel life? What about the lowly transit who fill unknown out of the way rooms the world over? In short, the man who shirks responsible life for the life of glorious lassitude, placid indifference and short encounters. It is the rarified world of simply existing.

  16. DP @ Someday Extraor says

    What I like about Berggruen is that it appears he is always learning and always upping his goals. It’s not like he is content buying a multitude of houses and then sitting around enjoying his luxuries. He is always pushing himself to become better and smarter – constantly following his passion. I don’t think he sold everything off to prove a point; I think he did it because they were just distractions to what he wanted out of life. I commend him for that.

    I think hotel living gives us a window into that type of lifestyle. Stress free living in luxury where you can utilize your time as you wish – not on mowing the lawn or replacing the sump pump or fixing a leaky sink. All of those worries are gone in a hotel, leaving you time to think, time to learn, time to plan, etc.


  17. Weston says

    About twelve years ago while visiting my mom in New Jersey we stayed in one of the lower end of the cost scale Marriott brands. Don’t really remember which one. While sitting in the lobby I got into a conversation with an older gentleman. He had lived in the area for decades and when he sold his house, he and his wife moved into the hotel full time.

    Since he was from the area, he had plenty of friends in the region and enjoyed hanging out in the lobby meeting new people as they came and went. I was fascinated by this. He and his wife had little or no desire to travel, they just felt that they enjoyed hotel living in a small suite far more than owning or traditional renting.

    He claimed that since they ate a large breakfast late in the morning (included at the hotel) they never ate lunch and needed only a light dinner, so they spent almost nothing on food. They didn’t have to worry about paying for, or obtaining, maid’s service, cable TV (including HBO) ,utilities, gym membership, lawn care, home repairs, property insurance, security etc. After factoring in the extended stay rate he negotiated and the points he got back on his credit card he told me that he was paying a little less than what he would be paying in the over 55 facility his kids wanted them to move into (and which he detested). He was happy as a clam living in a hotel on a limited budget without traveling.

    He was a fascinating guy who seemed thrilled to stay put in this manner.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Great story, Weston…

      thanks for sharing.

      I’d love to meet that guy.

      I’ve heard of older people doing this and if they need help it only takes a call to the front desk.

      Plus hotels treat them as valued customers. Over 55 facilities and nursing homes treat them as patients: that is as a burden.

      I know which I’d prefer.

      • Weston says

        Actually for me (for at least part of the next few years) my dream retirement would look more like this.

        I love to cruise, and I think in the example that Snopes gives the daily rate is way too high per person (although it is pretty accurate if looking at it like a hotel room and figuring it as per room/cabin at double occupancy). Particularly during the off season we find cruise ship rates of 1/2 what is quoted in the article.

  18. Simon says

    Man, I dream of living in hotels. I’d love it. The link “Save Money by Living in Hotels” really got my hopes up. I was hoping for some tips on how to get the costs down! No dice. 🙁 30 USD/day is pretty much my budget for everything, including housing, food, transportation and entertainment. I’d love to live in a hotel, but I think I’d have to postpone my retirement by many years to be able to afford it. Still might be worth it, though?

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Simon…

      $900 a month ($30 a day) is tight whether you live in a hotel or not.

      I think the key to analyzing hotel living is to account for all the little expenses that go away: Cable, utilities, soap, shampoo, TP…

      With that budget, you could probably make it work in some places overseas…

  19. Elbow Wilham says

    Just found your blog last month through the Mustache forum. Love it so far.

    I love the idea of selling my (7 acre) farm and my small business and living out of hotels.

    The only thing that really bugs me about hotels is eating out a lot. We have a hard time finding good affordable options that are also healthy. My family has recently tried to stay at places with small kitchens, but these places are usually more expensive. Any suggestions on this?

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Welcome EW…

      …good to hear you like it in these parts.

      I imagine going from living on a farm to living in hotels would be a big change, but it sounds like you are familiar with hotel stays.

      While we’ve never lived in hotels full time, we just returned from some summer travels, including a week in one hotel suite with kitchen in Cleveland visiting friends. Oddly, in our experience, these places with kitchens are no more expensive than regular hotel rooms and are more likely to accept our little Poodle.

      Most lunches and dinners were out with those friends, or at their homes. We ate the free breakfast at the hotel. For those meals we had open, we just picked up roasted chicken with some sides at the grocery, along with some fruits and veggies.

      For longer stays with less meals out with friends, we’d do pretty much what we do at home: grocery shop and use the kitchen in the room.

      Blog author Plibby, linked to in the post above lives full-time in hotels and is very diet/food conscious. She has some great posts on how she handles it on her blog.

      Good luck, and please keep us posted!

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