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Once you have more than one kid or so, lodging space becomes a big issue when traveling with a family. In the United States, as long as you aren’t traveling in cities like New York you probably won’t have too many space issues in terms of maximum occupancy limits for hotel rooms until you have more than two kids, but still, families clearly don’t fit in standard hotel rooms as well as one or two adults usually will. I like traveling with hotel points and elite status perks whenever possible, so we are still finding ways to fit into chain hotel rooms much of the time, but an alternative that will sometimes make more sense for families is Airbnb.
As you may know, with Airbnb you can rent a couch, a room, or even an entire house or apartment for your journey. My Airbnb stereotype has largely been for the 20-something backpacker who just needs a couch or futon to crash on for the lowest possible price. Clearly I don’t fit in that demographic, but in reality Airbnb is for more than the 20-something year old with a backpack. Or at least that’s what I hear, I still haven’t used it…though I have enjoyed renting houses via other sites for our family vacations. However, I know enough to know I need to pay more attention to Airbnb because there will come a time when it makes more sense than a traditional hotel room for certain trips.
I will never be interested in renting someone’s couch for the night, but renting an entire apartment in a space constrained city like New York, London, etc. may be of use at some point. While I don’t have any first-hand Airbnb experiences traveling with my family quite yet, I have recently exchanged emails with someone who does have first-hand experience, and I wanted to share their tips.
Cameron has two children, a 7 year old and a 4 year old and recently went from his home in California to Chicago for a short getaway thanks to $120 round trip fares that popped up on United. His wife and older daughter were unable to make this trip due to school and work commitments, but he decided to take his four year old son on the adventure.
Since hotel prices on their travel dates were higher than he wanted to pay, he turned to Airbnb to see what he could find by going that route. He shared a detailed write-up of his experience here, but I got him to share some tips for families who are considering using Airbnb to secure lodging for their family.
Tips for Using Airbnb for Family Travel:
- Use the “Kid/Family Friendly” search tool under “amenities” to help narrow down properties. Obviously you want to do your own assessment on if the accommodations look like they will meet the needs of your family, but at least this will hopefully weed out any properties that clearly do not wish to play host to children or families
- Engage in a dialog with the host. Get a sense of how aware they are of the needs of kids and families. Check to see if there are stairs? Are there bunk beds? Are there breakable or fragile items displayed within reach of little fingers.
- Look at photos of the listings very carefully to be on the lookout for items that will help or hinder your family’s stay. If there are rooms or areas missing from the photos, as the host to send you picture of those areas or provide additional details.
- Do your research on the neighborhood. Find out where the closest parks and family friendly spaces are. Check to see if they are located on a busy road or intersection. Find out if there are family friendly places to eat nearby. Identify how far you are from public transportation, if applicable.
Have you ever used Airbnb to find lodging for your family? What was your experience? Do you have any additional tips to add?