Finding the perfect accommodations for your next family vacation doesn’t have to be difficult. With this list of 10 tips you’ll be on the right track for finding the best place for your family to stay so that you can thoroughly enjoy your vacation. With the help of several other expert family travelers we have come up with these 10 tips for finding the perfect accommodations to make your vacation planning simple.
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To Tiffany at Mommy and Me Travels price is important, but even more important is cleanliness. “When choosing accommodations for my family while on vacation I find the most important thing for us is cleanliness,” she shares.
Unfortunately, she says that “while this seems like a given, we have found when traveling the USA and the world, the cheap places are not always the clean ones. I have young children that still enjoy playing on the floor and taking a bath. I cannot in good conscious let my kids do either of these activities if a place is dirty.”
Tiffany says “this sometimes makes people refer to me as that person who has ‘champagne taste on a beer budget’. While this might be true, I find ways to make budget traveling work. I accomplish this by researching more and finding other creative ways to save money.” Read more to find out some of Tiffany’s money saving tips for finding the perfect accommodations.
Kirsty at World For A Girl recommends house swapping as a great way for finding the perfect accommodations for a family. “We are huge house-swap fans having had successful swaps in Denmark, Switzerland, the USA, and Jamaica,” reveals Kirsty. “We swapped our 4 bedroom house in London with families and retired couples. Sometimes for just a week and twice for over a month.”
“I can’t even begin to list all the benefits of house swaps here,” she shares. Some of those benefits include “cost (it’s totally free except a small fee to the organising website), the opportunity to swap cars as part of the deal, child-friendly houses filled with toys, meeting locals, and exploring lesser-visited parts of the world.” These all sound like great benefits to me Kirsty!
Tiffany at Mommy and Me Travels also has some great advice on house swapping. She says “many sites are now available that let you stay in a house for a few nights to several months. You can find places such as houses that are only used for rentals to true house swapping where you and another family agree upon a length of time and pretty much free accommodations and everything in between. Depending on your requirements and level of comfort this could mean your accommodations only cost you pennies a night.”
Free Breakfast or Kitchenette
Anytime we can get something for free or even less expensive it’s great. Almost everyone agrees that if a hotel offers a free breakfast or has a kitchenette it’s perfect for families (and anyone else looking to save). Let me share what some of my fellow travel experts had to say about this benefit.
Regina at Full-Time Field Trip says to “only stay in hotels that offer free breakfast and have a mini fridge. Free breakfast means one-third of our food is free. Mini-Fridge means we can pack our own lunches and save money. And while it’s usually against the rules, I’ve been known to bring a crock-pot on vacation to prepare dinners.” I know we love having a crock-pot with us.
“The things that we need are handicap accessibility, refrigerator, and microwave. If our stay will be longer than a few days I try to get an extended stay with a full kitchenette,” says Melissa at Disabled Disney.
Sarah at Dandelion Seeds also shares “with food allergies, we need a rental home with a full kitchen so we can have home cooked meals.” And Annette at Tips From A Typical Mom asks herself “Is there a kitchenette so we can prepare some of our own meals to save money?” When she is finding the perfect accommodations.
So, the ability to save money on food is important when it comes to accommodations. Being able to prepare some of your own meals or have them provided will save you tons of money. It also helps reduce the stress of having to find a restaurant everyone can agree on for every meal.
Finding the Perfect Accommodations Might Mean Adjoining Rooms
Nikki at Yorkshire Wonders highly recommends separate rooms and if you can afford it, I totally agree. She says that it is her number one tip when getting a hotel with kids. She has some great advice.
“The best arrangement is adjoining rooms. If you have older kids then they can have their own space. More importantly, with younger kids you can maintain their bedtimes. You can settle them into bed and keep the room quiet, without having to sit in the dark yourself while they fall asleep!” This is so true because kids need to maintain a schedule.
“If you can’t afford adjoining rooms (and it does make it very expensive) then try and get a room with a balcony. Then at least you can sit with a book and a glass of wine on your balcony while the kids fall asleep!” This is something I haven’t considered before, but it makes so much sense. Nikki writes over at Yorkshire Wonders check it out at www.yorkshirewonders.co.uk.
Camping or RV Stays
Our family travels full time in our RV. This is a great way to travel because you always have all of your stuff with you. Plus you bring your own kitchen and bathroom too. Tiffany at https://mommyandmetravels.comMommy And Me Travels has some great advice about this option when looking for accommodations.
“Think outside the box for accommodations,” she tells us. “We have flown to other countries and rented an RV to stay at campgrounds while we drove around to visit different locations. This not only saved us hundreds, possibly thousands, of dollars, but it also gave our kids more stability as we traveled because they weren’t unpacking and repacking their suitcases. I was able to stop by a grocery store and buy some cleaning supplies to ensure that the RV met my standards of cleanliness too.
Deb at World Wise Kid says “for wildlife and nature-based trips, we love car camping. We fill one big check-in duffel bag with tent, tarp, sleeping bags, and pads. We rent an economy car at our destination and seek out small campgrounds at beaches and parks.” Beach camping is great Deb, parks are also some our favorites with the kids.
Camping is great and Deb shares “wherever we pitch the tent the kids call “home” – and we get to use our own personal bedding! When the kids wake up, there is wild space to run around. We’ve toured Hawaii, Costa Rica, Alaska, Florida, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand this way.” We are hoping to do the same in some of these places.
“Consider Hostels” suggests Shannan at Captivating Compass. “They aren’t just for backpacking college students anymore. For any size family, but especially large families, this is a great money saving option to consider. If traveling mid-week and off season, hostels are generally very quiet.”
She tells us that “many hostels have family-friendly game rooms and lounges to relax in. Perfect for kids that want to blow off steam and parents that want to relax. Most are family friendly, but make sure you ask before you make reservations, just in case.” Read more from Shannan at Captivating Compass where she blogs about learning on location using the world as your textbook.
House Sitting Is an Option
Shannan also has some great tips on house sitting as an option for finding the perfect accommodations. She says that “if the price of lodging has put you off international travel, house sitting is the way to reduce your travel lodging budget to nearly zero.” This is definitely something worth looking into.
“Joining websites that offer house sitting opportunities, preparing a profile to share, and asking plenty of questions during any house sitting interviews will secure you the perfect lodging arrangement while helping out a fellow traveler,” shares Shannan. You can read more from Shannan about affordable accommodation options for families visiting the UK on her website Captivating Compass.
Airbnb’s Make Great Accommodations
Airbnb is a popular choice for family accommodations and Kris at Gadsventure shares her wisdom on this with us. “When choosing accommodation for our family holiday, I just can’t go past Airbnb . We have had a series of wonderful bookings worldwide and totally think it is the best way to go.” She has a few reasons for this.
“A family of 6 has little options with hotel rooms, often having to pay double for interconnecting rooms. However, with Airbnb we have so many beautiful homes to choose from, and the prices give you a much better value. Our kids are still little and don’t mind sharing beds.”
“Sometimes the owners fill the fridge with enough food for breakfast! Or I have seen welcome baskets of fruit too. Hosts are the best point of contact if you need to organize an airport transfer, or local ground transport too,” Kris shares.
Sarah at Dandelion seeds shares some great advice on Airbnb’s and other sites like it as well. “Airbnb and VRBO, and some of their lesser-known international counterparts, let us “tour” potential accommodations before we go.” which is great when you need something specific.
“If the place looks good for sleeping and cooking, we’ll gladly walk a few extra blocks for sightseeing. My advice for renting a home is to Google “best website for lodging in [the country you’re visiting]”. Know that it might be a different site than the one you use in your home country. You’ll likely get the best rates, security, and overall experience this way.” Sarah invites you to join her adventures at https://www.dandelion-seeds.com.
Booking Sites can Help in Finding the Perfect Accommodations
Using booking sites can save you money if you know how to use them. Melissa at Disable Disney says the “first factor we look at is price. When I am researching I use Travelocity to compare prices. I also look on Priceline and Hotwire if we are flexible on location.” Being flexible is key when traveling Melissa. She also says “if I can, I also try to use Booking.com to reserve our hotel room because I can earn Kicks from ShopKick, plus they have rooms where you can wait to pay until arrival!”
Shannan at Grab My Passport says that “Our two favorite online booking tools are Airbnb and Booking.com. Typically, I’ll check Booking.com for prices and reviews and then I’ll head to the hotel’s direct website to check their price. Booking.com runs great specials sometimes that can’t be beat, but I prefer to book directly with a hotel if possible, as it’s usually easier to make changes when you do so. Traveling with young children, accommodations are the most important part of our trip!”
Credit Card Rewards
Yamy at Gofamgo shares some great money saving tips using credit card rewards to help when finding the perfect accommodations. “When booking for accommodations, our family usually prefers to stay at 4-5 star hotels that we can get for the price of a lower tier hotel or maybe even “free”. We’ve saved hundreds of dollars on hotels through the use of mileage and points accrued from a travel credit card,” says Yamy.
“One such credit card, available to travelers in the USA, is the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. When I applied for it, I received a sign-up bonus of 100,000 points and an annual credit of $300 towards travel expenses. On top of that, I also earn triple points when using it towards any dining and travel related expenses. Everyday expenses such as groceries, eating out or even filling up the gas can turn into a free vacation once you accumulate enough points,” Yamy shares.
She also tells us that “these credit card companies have online travel portals where you can book your hotels at a discounted rate. Otherwise, you can easily transfer your accrued points to their hotel partners in a 1:1 ratio. The points are not exclusive to a certain loyalty program.” This sounds like it can really help defer some of the travel expenses.Yamy writes about her travels with her family including tips she learns along the way in Gofamgo.com
Finding the Perfect Accommodations
Shannan says “choosing accommodations for traveling families can always be a challenge.” Hopefully this list gave you some inspiration and guidance for choosing your accommodations. Check out the other articles in our series, choosing a destination and saving on transportation, for more helpful family vacation planning tips. Feel free to leave your suggestions too we’d love to hear form you!