Lodging can either enhance a trip or practically ruin an otherwise pleasant location.Â It is usually the biggest expense in a family’s travel budget, yet with kids there is less flexibility to explore the cheapest possible lodging options.
Dorm-style rooms and cozy bed and breakfasts filled with breakable antiques aren’t going to work with children.
Usually the easiest choice is a family-friendly hotel or motel, and the many available hotel chains have roughly similar price structures and room designs.Â You know what you’re getting when checking into the upper-range Four Seasons, mid-range Hampton Inns or lower-end Super 8.
Check ahead of time whether there is an extra charge for children in the room, and recognize that outside the US it seems to be more difficult to find rooms with two double or two queen-sized beds.Â Many of the “family rooms” in non-US hotel chains like Ibis have some sort of a bunk bed arrangement, which is fine for older children but not necessarily toddlers or babies.
Those families staying in one location for a few days may prefer the amenities and atmosphere of a resort that welcomes children.
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Some properties advertise that they are all-inclusive, but always research exactly what “all” means so that there are no surprises for the budget.
The advantage of a resort is being able to truly relax because everything is taken care of, including food and amusements.Â The disadvantages include the “walled garden” effect; if a family has traveled a long way to experience a different city or country, but spends all of their time on the enclosed resort property, have they really traveled?Â Why not stay at a resort much closer to home?
Long popular in tourism hot spots like Orlando, Florida and for beach vacations, the idea of short-term rentals of homes, apartments or condominiums is fast becoming the only way to afford a trip to expensive places like London, New York or Hawaii.
Consider a villa rental, especially in places like Tuscany where they are widely available. Sharing costs with another family or two can make villas quite affordable, and staying in one place means that everyone can better experience the local culture and rhythms.
With a cruise, lodging is taken care by staying in the ship’s cabin. It’s a movable hotel and eliminates a lot of packing and unpacking.
The downside is generally tiny rooms and worrying about children falling off of shipboard balconies or out of precarious bunk beds.
Everyone in the family can usually participate as much or as little as desired in daily farm activities, and the bonus is developing relationships with another family plus possibly teaching kids about sustainable agriculture and good food.