Traveling with kids is so rewarding and family trips will create memories which last a lifetime. A huge part of planning a successful family vacation is to find accommodation which meets the needs of your family. If everyone is well-rested, they will be happier, more co-operative and will enjoy their trip so much more.
With many family-friendly advantages such as separate bedrooms, full kitchens and laundry facilities, renting an Airbnb with kids is a great idea for your next trip.
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Pros and Cons of Staying at an Airbnb with Kids
5 Advantages of Renting an Airbnb with Kids
- Sharing in a single hotel room with kids can be a terrible experience. If your kids go to bed earlier than you, you’ll need to sit in silence in a dark hotel room, hoping that your kids will eventually fall asleep.
Staying in an Airbnb overcomes the this disadvantage of staying a hotel with your kids. It’s pretty easy to find a kid-friendly Airbnb rental with at least two bedrooms. This means means your kids can be in a separate room from you.
- Airbnb rentals are generally cheaper than a comparable hotel room.
- When we travel with kids, we don’t like to eat out at restaurants three times a day. Not only does eating out get expensive, but it eats up a lot of your travel time. Renting a kid-friendly Airbnb with a full kitchen is a huge advantage for families as you can eat healthier meals, save money and best of all, save time.
Our favorite meal strategy when staying at an Airbnb with kids is to eat a healthy breakfast in the Airbnb, pack a healthy lunch to-go, then reward ourselves at the end of the day with a great meal at a restaurant.
- Kids are messy, especially little kids. Another of the best things about renting an Airbnb with kids is having access to a washer and dryer. When we travel with kids, we like to travel as lightly as possible and having an Airbnb with laundry facilities allows us to pack less clothes for everyone. Instead of packing enough clothes for every day (plus some extras in case clothes get dirty), we can pack half the amount of items and simply do a wash halfway through our family vacation. As a bonus, this can lead to savings on airline baggage fees too!
- Airbnb rentals are typically in residential neighborhoods, which gives your family trip a more authentic feel. In addition, people around the world love kids and it creates an opportunity for your kids to interact with friendly locals at your destination. Our kids have made many special friends with our Airbnb neighbours. One charming Italian neighbours on the Island of Elba even gave our preschool daughter a rose from his garden!
3 Disadvantages of Renting an Airbnb with Children
- When renting an Airbnb for your family, you are more likely to be dealing with an individual, not a company, which exposes you to some risk if things do not go according to plan. Both VRBO and Airbnb offer limited protection for renters, but once your money is transferred to the apartment owner, you are pretty much stuck dealing with the owner in the case of a dispute.
- Cancellation policies tend to be stricter in apartments vs hotels.
- The selection of kid-friendly vacation rentals available in your timeframe and desired location may be limited vs. hotels.
7 Tips to Find the Perfect Airbnb with Kids
1. Know Your Desired Location
Traveling with kids is harder than traveling without them. As it takes extra time to get everyone ready, extra time to get places, choosing the right location for your family Airbnb is very important. We recommend you think about all you want to see and do on your family trip and then try to find a kid-friendly Airbnb in the center of these attractions. Both Airbnb and VRBO allow you to search by map, which is a big help finding the right vacation rental location for your trip.
2. Stay Within Your Budget
Traveling with kids can be expensive. Typically, your accommodations costs make up one of the largest components of any family travel budget, so do yourself a big favor an use the search filters to set an upper limit on the nightly cost of your Airbnb.
Here’s what will happen if you don’t. Let’s say your nightly budget for an Airbnb rental is $200/night. If you set your search filter to a maximum of $200/night, we virtually guarantee you’ll find a place that is perfect for your family. But, if you don’t set that nightly price limit, you’ll start seeing much nicer places, in better locations. Suddenly, all the places you look at within your price range don’t look so hot any more. This can lead you to overspend on accommodation, which will in turn, impact how much money you have to spend to enjoy yourself on your family trip.
If you are traveling on a budget, a great trick we use when renting an Airbnb with kids is to find a really nice rental outside of the main tourist area, but near a subway station. Trading off a few minutes of commuting time can often save you a ton on your accommodation costs, and get a much nicer place. We saved a ton of money visiting Oslo with our kids following this strategy.
3. Review the Airbnb Listing Pictures in Detail
Kids don’t stop being kids just because you are on a family vacation – they are still going to play, run around and be generally crazy, despite your pleas for calm. Because of this, we recommend you look for Airbnb rentals which are uncluttered (i.e. limited décor items, etc.). When possible, we recommend you avoid vacation rentals with lots of breakables (glass coffee tables), long staircases, etc.
4. Is the Airbnb Pet Friendly
If you have any pet allergies in your family, you may want to avoid renting a pet-friendly Airbnb. I have allergies to cats and to a lesser degree, dogs. I have stayed in Airbnbs and hotels that allow pets, and despite their cleaning efforts, I usually can’t breathe within an hour or two… This is a great way to put a damper on your enjoyment of your family vacation.
5. Actually Count the Bedrooms
One trick that Airbnb hosts like to use is to overstate the number of real bedrooms in a rental unit. We’ve rented places listed as a 3-bedroom Airbnb, only to find out it only has two actual bedrooms, with a sofa bed in the living room.
As you review the pictures on the Airbnb listing, do a count of the bedrooms and make sure you can spot each distinct bedroom. If you can’t, message the host for clarification.
6. Read the Airbnb Reviews Thoroughly
We once rented an Airbnb in Valle de Bravo, Mexico which ended up next to a very noisy taxi stand. The noise persisted deep into the night, making it hard for us all to get to sleep and to stay asleep!
Increase your odds of finding a great family Airbnb by reading the reviews thoroughly. Make sure there are no comments about it being noisy, dirty, near a nightclub or near a train. We particularly hone in on reviews of other families who have stayed at the Airbnb with kids.
7. Look at both Airbnb and VRBO
Although Airbnb is currently the main player in the vacation rental market, don’t overlook the many kid-friendly VRBO rentals. We typically begin with a search for a kid-friendly vacation rental on Airbnb, but if we don’t find the perfect place, we’ll jump over to VRBO. We’ve often had success finding the perfect place on VRBO, so give it a try to improve your selection of family-friendly vacation rentals to choose from.
If you’re not convinced that an Airbnb or VRBO rental is right for your family, then check out our tips to find the best hotel for your family.
Dan Brewer is an intrepid family travel blogger with a passion for exploring the world's most captivating destinations. With 58 countries under his belt and a sense of wanderlust that knows no bounds, he has made it his life's mission to share his travel experiences and insights with fellow families who love to travel.
When Dan isn't traveling with his wife and kids, he's either out enjoying the Canadian Rockies he calls home or working on one of his three travel sites (Family Can Travel, Travel Banff Canada and Ultimate Sports Road Trip).