What is a split stay? This is when you split your time between more than one hotel on vacation. Now sometimes this is a necessity for example when we travel to multiple cities on a road trip. Other times it is a personal choice or preference based on location, amenities, or hotel availability. In this article I will talk about when it’s a great idea, and how we operate efficiently when moving hotels frequently.
On our recent trip to Europe we stayed on the Disney Magic cruise ship, in 4 hotels, and 1 apartment. Every few days we were on the move! This was for logistical reasons and because we were moving countries! We did a few things that really helped to make the packing and unpacking go smoothly:
- We packed as light as possible – only necessities!
- Once a few days into the trips we converted one suitcase into dirty laundry, and another to souvenirs. This kept things more organized and ‘ready to go’ vs having to be packed and repacked.
- We had access to laundry facilities from day 8-19
- Once we were in the final third of our trip, we began packing some of the bags “done until we are home” so we worked with less clothes options – but also had less to pack/unpack.
A trip with multiple destinations and hotels takes a bit of thought and pre-planning. Not a lot, but you’ll want to allow for time to pack/repack as well as packing in such a way that you don’t waste hours at each stop. For us, about 30 minutes was all it took to pack up and maybe 10 to settle in the next place because we had things so well organized!
When is a split stay a bad idea?
When the kids were tiny and had both a lot of gear and were unable to assist, those were times when we really wanted to go somewhere, unpack, and be done. Other examples of a multi-hotel trip being a less than stellar idea would be if you require a lot of medical equipment, are traveling with a really large group that is not seasoned travelers, or if it really stresses you out to change hotels. In most cases, I would also discourage moving hotels if you’re staying in the same general area.
When should I try it?
The obvious answer would be when you’re on a road trip, or on a vacation that has multiple destinations. We have also done this when there is some kind of advantage to booking separately or for some cost reason it made sense. Here are a few examples other than multi-destination:
- Decided after booking to add night(s), but original hotel sold out.
- Benefit to staying at a place for part of the time: example staying at Universal Orlando for the hotel pass (think permanent fast pass but nearly all rides and no limits!) and to avoid taxi fees to/from a Disney hotel.
- Because a package deal is offered for set dates, and you want to add date(s) outside that range
- To minimize daily travel – example staying a few nights in Waikiki to explore that area, then moving to Disney’s Aulani resort
- Utilizing DVC/timeshare points and can’t get full availability at just one resort
- Can’t decide between 2 or more hotels and want to try them all.
- Can’t afford full vacation at a deluxe resort, so spending part of time there with other time at a less expensive choice.
- To stay night before travel near airport – especially when flights are early!
In other words, sometimes there are practical reasons, and sometimes it is whimsy!
Hotel switch days
You want to plan carefully and thoughtfully around your travel plans because most hotels will not promise room availability until after 3pm, and the hotel you check out of most often will have check out around 11am. So that leaves you a gap when you won’t have a hotel room to call home. Note that most hotels will store your bags for you upon checkout – so you can go explore and do some things before returning to collect your bags. If a long distance of travel is not required, I recommend planning a later start so that it doesn’t feel like you are without a room for quite as long.
If staying at Walt Disney World – call down to the front desk and tell them you need your bags transferred to your next Disney resort. This service is super nifty! In the afternoon once you’re checked into your new resort guess what? You call down and your bags appear like magic. No hauling them around with you required!
In other words…
To try more hotels, reduce back and forth commuting while on vacation, or to stretch your budget splitting your time between multiple hotels can be a great thing! You’ll need to do some planning ahead to minimize time spent on the trip itself packing/prepping or fixing things. You’ll also want to plan for those switch days to make it as seamless as possible. Of course this planning process? It can also tell you when hotel hopping is a bad idea, or when it makes really good sense.
On our next Disney World trip, we will split our time 5 nights / 4 nights due to timeshare (DVC) points, availability, and we picked a good swapping day when we could go into a park later in the morning, and then take a bus to our new hotel when done!
If you’ve done some good split stay vacations we’d love to hear about them! Do share! Got more questions? Feel free to ask away!