Budget Accommodations: Convent and Monastery Stays

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Nuns1I’m excited to be the new Budget Traveling Mom and share some of my favorite tips and finds along the way. For me travel is as much a creative experience as it is an inspiring adventure. I’m the daughter and sister of pilots and growing up it never occurred to me you need money to travel. We may not have had a lot of money for fancy lodging or Disneyfied vacations, but we always traveled. 

When I reached adulthood and needed to pay for my own airfare and expenses, I decided I would continue the mindset of not needing a lot of money to hit the road. And this was all while living in New York City on a tiny salary with nonexistent disposal income.

But there’s always a creative alternative to the typical vacation of airfare + hotel + food + recreation. Along the way I’ve learned that creativity transforms travel with more meaning than you can imagine. And budget travel doesn’t mean you have to stay in the dumps.

To kick off my blog, I’m introducing a five part series on unique Family Budget Accommodations. 

Convents and Monasteries

You don’t need to be Catholic, religious, or married to stay in religious lodging. Score accommodations for nearly half of what area hotels are going for and soak up some flavor. Convent and monastery stays can be found in just about every country but are easier to find in Catholic areas like Rome.

We stayed in a convent in Rome and a monastery turned religious center in Venice. I loved the old buildings, the graceful staff, and the idea I was contributing to their budget instead of a chain hotel. Of course, you forgo luxuries like room service and calling downstairs for every need from lost toothbrushes to wake-up calls.

But what you gain is a unique experience most of your friends and neighbors have never considered. It also offers your kids a first-hand lesson in history, religion, and architecture. Are religious accommodations right for your family?

Pros to Convent and Monastery Stays

  • Peace and quiet
  • Budget prices
  • Basic breakfast of pastries and coffee
  • Safe
  • Rich in history
  • Clean quarters
  • Respectful staff
  • Both city central and rural locations 

Cons to Convent and Monastery Stays

  • Many do not accept credit cards 
  • Older nuns and monks may not speak English
  • Curfew for guests. Ususally midnight or later
  • Basic rooms. Most do not provide televisions, plush beds, or much else besides a shabby desk and stark decor.
  • House rules may apply.
  • Rarely offers online booking

Depending on what kind of travelers you are, the pros may actually be cons and the cons prove beneficial for you. Are you kids willing to forgo televisions an fancy cable packages? Do you have older children who want to stay out past midnight? Does peace and quiet bore you to tears? Do you need a full buffet breakfast to satisfy the family?

Weigh your options and decide what kind of adventure you’re looking for. You may also find it’s the best way to stay in budget, especially in countries where the euro crushes the dollar. 

To get started, search at GoodNightAndGodBless.com for monasteries in countries from Africa to England and beyond. You can also find a list of convents in Itlay at SantaSusana.org or pick up the books Europe’s Monastery and Convent Guesthouses: A Pilgrim’s Travel Guide, New Edition or Good Night and God Bless: A Guide to Convent and Monastery Accommodation in Europe. 

(Photo by karaian)

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