Traveling with a bigger family can be expensive. Obviously buying six plane tickets or train tickets adds up, but we also have other added complications because of the size of our group. We almost always need advance dinner reservations if we want a table at peak times because it’s hard to squish six extra people in. That means we always have to plan dinners at least a day or two in advance, which isn’t always possible. We can’t rent a standard size vehicle because they only have five seat belts, so we always have to upgrade to an SUV or van, which is, of course, more expensive.
The worst thing though, is that we can’t usually fit in a single hotel room — the limit there is almost always five people as well — so we need to rent two rooms. Obviously doubling the cost of accommodations is a big hit to the wallet. We’ve also run into difficulty where hotels don’t have adjoining or even adjacent rooms, which means Matt and I separate and each take two kids. That’s a pain in the butt, to say the least, and when coupled with the significant additional expense, it makes hotels not very appealing.
Before moving to England, we’d never used Airbnb before, but now we use it almost exclusively. It is THE BEST source for family accommodations, in my opinion. For far less than the nightly cost of two hotel rooms, we’ve rented entire apartments where every kid has their own bed and there are two bathrooms and a living room with couches and a television, and the best part — a full kitchen.
My kids wake up hungry, but when we’re staying in a hotel we have to all get showered, dressed, and ready for the day before we can go eat. Having a full kitchen means the kids can be eating breakfast while Matt and I get ready and by the time we leave the room, we’ve already eaten and can start whatever that day’s adventure is straight away. It also means that Matt and I can usually get a cup of coffee in before we head out, which makes everything easier to handle.
The other great thing about Airbnb is that the hosts are usually really happy to help us plan our travel. Our hostess in Rome arranged the van that picked us up at the airport and had treats for the kids and bottle of wine for Matt and I awaiting us on our arrival. Our host in Praiano arranged the car service that drove us from Naples to the Amalfi coast and back and gave us restaurant recommendations for our stay. Our hostess in Edinburgh stocked the kitchen with croissants, yogurts, fruit, coffee, and milk so we’d have breakfast on our first morning because we were arriving very late and no stores would have been open. Our host in Chamonix coordinated our ski rentals with the shop in French so we didn’t have to deal with the language barrier. We’ve had really great experiences and excellent assistance from our Airbnb hosts.
We don’t even look for hotels anymore when we’re traveling because we’ve had such success with Airbnb. Our one bad experience, when we couldn’t get in to the apartment near Disneyland Paris, was a complete fluke and we were compensated for the night we weren’t able to be in the apartment.
Another bonus is that, with an apartment, you have a little more space to spread out than you do in a hotel room. When we were in Edinburgh, one afternoon was really cold and wet and we were all hungry but because the weather had turned quickly, every restaurant nearby basically filled right up with people escaping the cold. After trying 3 or 4 places and being told there was a 45 minute to one hour wait, we walked to a take-out place and got food to go, hopped in a cab, and went back to our apartment. We ate at the kitchen table, snuggled up on the couches in the living room and watched a movie, warmed up, rested a bit, then went back out that evening to the Christmas markets. If we’d have been in a hotel room, we’d have been crammed in with little space to relax and would have had to eat basically sitting on the beds or on the floor. Apartments give families more flexibility.
Plus, the places we’ve stayed have been SO MUCH COOLER than a boring old hotel would be. Our apartment in Rome had two lofted bedrooms, and the coolest entrance ever — that’s it in the first picture at the top of this post. Our place in Naples had the funniest entrance ever — basically a tiny hobbit door in the immense full-size door that even the kids had to duck to get out of. Matt could barely fit!
Our place in Edinburgh had a gorgeous view from the kitchen window. Our place in Praiano looked right out on the Mediterranean and we ate breakfast on the patio every day. Our place in Chamonix was directly below Mont Blanc. We’ve had way cooler experiences in these quirky places than we ever would have had in a hotel room.
Traveling with a big family can absolutely be complicated and stressful, but Airbnb has absolutely made our travels more fun and for far less money we’ve had better accommodations. I can’t imagine we’ll ever go back to hotels!
If you use this link to book your travel on Airbnb as one of my friends, you’ll get a travel credit for your reservation!