When you're planning a family getaway, you want the best experience for the best price. Vacation rentals are a great way to an immersive vacation - living more like a local and enjoying your surroundings, but hotels offer more services. Which is the best choice for your family?

Picking a place to stay with kids

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Traveling with kids? Friends? Couples only? There are so many options for finding a place to stay. If you talk to anyone in the travel world, they all have a different idea. Here are some of our considerations.


Picture of a hotel

 Who doesn’t love a hotel? There is typically room service, elevators when hauling luggage, restaurants, a bar and more. But when your traveling with kids, a one-room hotel room can really make a trip into a travel disaster!

Pre-kid, we loved a nice hotel room! Now, we book hotel rooms for one night stays mostly. Or at all-inclusive resorts because we know we will only be there for a few days and the focus is family fun. Not to mention my little one typically passes out quickly after a full day.

Concerns with kids:

Make sure your hotel room allows a roll-away bed or crib. We’ve run into quite a few issues with having more than 2 adults in one room. Also, read the fine print with sites like booking.com where the hotel often adds a fee for a child that isn’t sharing the same bed as the parents. We’ve incurred extra charges just for sheets to make up the sofa bed (that was already in the room)!

Perks of hotel life:

Most of the hotels we book have a free breakfast, which is a huge plus with a toddler’s early morning and appetite to start the day. They also have the staff to help with any questions you may have about the area and people like the security of a hotel versus an Airbnb.



For us, there is nothing like the amenities of a townhouse/apartment/house when we are traveling. Full-size kitchen? Check! Separate Bedrooms? Check! Sometimes we can even snag a parking spot, a bathtub for our son and extra space for kid travel gear.

Pre-kid we had never booked an Airbnb. We didn’t really need all the space and we certainly didn’t want to cook any of our meals while we were “on vacation”. Now we laugh a little and scramble some eggs in the morning before we hit the sights.

Concerns with kids:

You have to be detailed in your search for the perfect Airbnb for your family. If you have mobile babies and young toddlers, it isn’t often that an Airbnb or vacation rental is baby proofed. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be a bit creative. Of course, don’t book the place with the wide-open stairs and open pool, but you can get buy with a few travel hacks.

If your children are like my son, they love to explore. The first few times we rented an Airbnb our son locked himself in his room (thank you European cities for locks and keys on every door). He also gets in to all the drawers and cupboards. He’s gotten better now that he is older, but oftentimes you are renting someones home. I do a quick scan of the rooms and put anything of interest upon the higher shelves. You’ll also want to check for any hidden dangers like those lighters hanging out in the hallway cabinet and the sharp knives next to the children’s silverware in the drawer in the kitchen.

Perks of Airbnb/VRBO life:

Separate bedrooms! I know some people like to bedshare with their kids, but that is not us. I enjoy reading my son some books, turning on his music and giving him a kiss goodnight. Keeping his routine and then being able to sneak away into the living room to get some alone time with my husband. This is the first thing I put into the search bar…..2 bedrooms!

You also get all the amenities of home! Full kitchen to make meals…or not. Fridge to store all the snacks and drinks for the day. Sometimes you’ll even luck out with children’s silverware.

The hosts are typically accommodating with children’s gear. I haven’t run into a host that hasn’t had a pack and play or crib. They usually also have highchairs if you ask.

HomeAway is similar, but if you want to read more tips about what to look for in a vacation home on HomeAway, check those tips out here

What to look for in an Airbnb, our list:

  • Two bedrooms
  • Child’s room away from the main living area
  • Entire Property (versus shared)
  • At least 5 reviews (read the reviews, there are often additional details)
  • A/C for Summer vacations
  • Parking Spot (when driving)
  • Pet-Friendly (when bringing the pup)
  • Elevator or Stairs (4 flights with 2 suitcases and a stroller isn’t fun)
  • Look for Breakables (the less clutter the better)
  • The layout of the Airbnb
  • Bathroom with a tub (not a deal-breaker, but nice)
  • Location: restaurants, safety
  • Neighborhood Feel
  • Safety (open stairs, leaning bookshelves, drop-offs)
  • Kid-Friendly (high chair, pack and play)

That’s basically it! I know some people are afraid to book an Airbnb, it’s an unknown. But by following a few simple guidelines, you can stay comfortably with the family in a new location!

Bonus: if you are new to Airbnb and are ready to book your first stay, click HERE and you’ll get a discount off your first booking.

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