Awhile back I heard another mom say something to the effect of “I love the idea of Airbnb, but I just don’t think I’d be brave enough to try it with kids.”
Girl, whaaaaat? You are missing out on so much!
Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for hotels, but for the most part, we prefer to use private rentals when traveling with our little Evelyn. And by private rental, I mean any apartment, home, cabin, houseboat (yup), etc., rented privately through a trusted 3rd party website.
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The most well-known platform for booking private rentals is, of course, Airbnb (and admittedly the one we use most often), but there are plenty of other options out there to try in your search. I find that VRBO and HomeAway are great for cabins and whole home rentals. Region-specific rental agencies, like La Bella Toscana, can help you find your own Tuscan farmhouse in Italy. And family-focused rental agencies like Kid&Coe, Clanventure, or One Fine Stay’s family folio, offer home collections curated just for families.
So if I’ve got your attention, here are 5 reasons why you need to book a private rental for your next family vacation.
1. You’ll Never Realize How Much You Needed that Full Kitchen
Seriously. Making, washing, and drying bottles in the bathroom sink? Not fun. Trying to cook a quick meal for a toddler in a tiny hotel room microwave? Not ideal. Packing extra bowls and utensils for little ones? Unnecessary.
The first thing we do when arriving in a new city is a grocery run. We pick up diapers, wipes, along with a few snacks and quick meal items. Since traveling with a little one often means ending our days at 6 PM, we spend a fair amount of evenings eating take out at “home” while cooking a quick toddler-friendly meal for Evelyn. It helps tremendously to have some familiar foods available, and it also allows us to relax and recharge comfortably so we’re ready for the day ahead.
2. You’ll Have A Ton More Space to Spread Out
One of the best things about private rentals is that you get a ton more space for nearly the same price as a hotel! When Evelyn goes to bed at 8 PM, staying in a hotel means it’s lights out for us too. So it’s nice to be able to put her down in a separate room, close the door and enjoy a glass of wine together at the end of a busy day.
Many of the Airbnbs we’ve stayed in also offer some sort of separate work space too: a must for us, since Matt is usually working (at least a little bit) while we’re on the road.
3. You Can Worry Less about Your Noisy Children
Ooooh yes, I remember our first night in a hotel with Evelyn who was up every hour crying. I do believe in some level of “crying it out”, but you can’t really do that when other guests are sleeping 5 feet away through paper thin walls. I’m not a jerk. Needless to say, we got zero sleep that night, and it’s certainly no way to start a vacation.
Enter the private rental. Most of the places we’ve stayed in are 1 bedroom apartments, sometimes in separate carriage houses. We’d have 1, maybe 2, adjacent neighbors to worry about waking, and even then, noise between units traveled much less. Even with the occasional crying herself to sleep, I feel much less guilty about it being in an apartment, knowing I’m not ruining someone else’s vacation.
4. Child-Friendly Gear is (sometimes) Included
Ok, this one’s not a given, but there are plenty of private rentals out there that can not only provide a pack-and-play, but might also have a high chair, toys, etc. Read the notes on the rental carefully for any details that the home might be used personally by the host family as well. If so, I make sure to always ask the host if there are any extras already available. While it might be a long shot, the less stuff you have to pack, the better, so it doesn’t hurt to ask!
And if it’s really important to you to have a child-ready home, check out a family-friendly rental agencies. Kid&Coe, for example, offers baby-ready homes that include highchairs, cribs, nurseries, and sitter recommendations!
5. You’ll Be in an Actual Neighborhood (where other families live)
Sure, sometimes it’s nice to be right in the center of a city, but move a little further out and you’ll get to see how other families go about their daily routines. Play at the park with other kids or go out to dinner at a favorite local restaurant. You’ll become immersed in what life is like for people who actually live in the city and see what it would be like if you did too. Isn’t that what travel is really all about?
What’s your favorite part about using private rentals for family travel?