Are you wondering how to find family accommodations when traveling? Travel accommodations are increasing in scope and flexibility, allowing more families to explore together. Here is our process and criteria for finding family-friendly accommodations while traveling!
Growing up in Alabama, we’d regularly drive up to Atlanta, Georgia where my cousin lived. Sometimes, we’d make the 10-hour drive in a single day. Other times, we’d pause partway and then continue on the next day. Those times, it was often very late at night and we’d be driving through some teeny tiny town with few streetlights and fewer people. We’d stop into various branches of Motel 6 or Red Roof Inn to see if they had availability.
It was a different time.
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FINDING THE BEST FAMILY ACCOMMODATIONS WHEN TRAVELING
Criteria for Finding Family Accommodations
Nowadays, especially with 4 kiddos, we like to plan well in advance where we will stay when traveling. Just finding lodging for a family takes a lot of effort when trip planning!
Of course, family accommodations vary greatly from place to place. Some cities/countries are terrifically inexpensive, while others are very costly. Some include food as a standard, while others do not. There are places where marble showers are the norm, and others where hot water is normally only available during certain hours.
While the general standards may change, we try to stay consistent with relatively mid-upper-level lodging for our family. That said, there are a few criteria that are of prime importance to us when choosing places to stay while traveling:
Cleanliness of the Accommodations
When traveling with kids, this is perhaps the most important thing to us. We don’t demand super fancy places, but we do our utmost to find places that are sparkly. Especially with babies who crawl (and eat things off of…) the floor, we try to find places that are well-maintained and fresh.
We don’t typically look for places that offer tons of perks. For instance, turn-down and valet service are only very marginally valuable to us. Assuming the cleanliness standard is the same and the location reasonable, we would almost always choose more space instead.
Space Considerations of the Lodging
We currently have 5 persons who need places to sleep – 2 adults and 3 small children. Our current youngest is almost 2, and we always bring our own bed for him. He’s slept in that bed while traveling since he was about 6 months old. We’ve kept our others in it until they’re about 3 and ready to transition to a regular bed.
Since our kids are still young/small (our oldest is currently 8), they don’t need quite as much space as an adult or teen. Because of this, we can sometimes get away with slightly less bed space if needed. Our ideal is usually a large bed for the grownups (queen or king), plus either 3 twins or a queen and twin. We’ve also made it work with having the 3 older kids share anything from a king to a queen pull-out couch. It helps being little!
We typically start our accommodations search at 2-3 bedrooms. If that isn’t available within a reasonable distance/price/cleanliness level, we’ll dial down from there. We have, indeed, stayed in studio-style accommodations with our whole family and made it work. It’s not our first choice, but sometimes the tradeoffs are worth it. More on that below.
Price of Family Accommodations
Of course, cost is a factor when deciding on accommodations for a family. Wouldn’t it be nice if money were no object? Alas. We usually try to keep our family accommodations while traveling under $150-200. It’s often much less if we’re traveling in less expensive areas, and occasionally it’s more.
For instance, when we were in India, we had a lovely 2-bedroom apartment that included a fresh, hot breakfast for under $50/night. Bangkok was around the same price, but without the breakfast. Morocco averaged out to between $80-100/night.
Australia, on the other hand, cost well into the hundreds. Same with Norway – we paid over $350/night in a little (and stunning) fjord town. We try to manage our expectations for each locale, but try to remain consistent in the type and relative level of accommodations in each place.
Location, Location, Location
This will become more clear in the below example, but location is an important factor in our family lodging choices. It does depend on the type of place we’re visiting – if it’s rural and we have a car, we may enjoy a bit of a drive. However, if we’re planning on doing a lot of walking in a city, we prefer to be closer in.
Again, this usually requires some trading off, but it’s an important factor in our family travel lodging decisions.
Planning out Family Accommodations for Travel: 2 Examples
I think the easiest way to demonstrate how we make tradeoffs when choosing family-friendly accommodations on our travels is to give a couple examples.
Accommodations for Families in London
London is a tricky place for finding accommodations on a budget, with or without kids. It’s expensive!
Family Accommodations in London Option 1: Home Rentals
Our first option is usually to look for home rentals, as they typically afford a bit more space than hotels. We usually start with Airbnb and VRBO. (See an unsponsored review I wrote of Airbnb for families HERE.) Unfortunately, there was practically nothing available that wasn’t at least an hour commute from any of the main sites we hoped to see.
We had 6 days there, and there was a lot we wanted to see. So we didn’t love the idea of commuting 2+ hours each day. We decided we’d significantly increase our typical accommodations budget and look at everything within that range. For London, we increased it to $500/night! Still, NOTHING.
(The difficulty in finding a place to stay in London was compounded by the fact that we were booking only a couple months in advance. We were also traveling in July – the height of tourist season. So presumably if you’re traveling to London in January, you’d find family accommodations much more easily.)
Family Accommodations in London Option 2: Hotels
We’d been looking for 1-and-2-bedroom units, so we dialed it down to studios. At that point, we introduced hotels back into the mix. We had some hotel points from our Sapphire Reserve credit card, so we decided to check to se if any of those would work. It turns out, they did! We found a hotel that had points availability for our family. Hooray!
We immediately booked this hotel, and it was perfect for our stay. Ridiculously convenient and walkable, and had a great breakfast (so nice for getting out at a reasonable time with kids). We had two queens, used our baby bed, and made a little floor bed out of cushions/blankets/sheets for one kiddo. Everyone was so tired from walking miles and miles each day that it worked out great!
Accommodations for Families in Morocco
We’d heard so much about riads prior to our visit to Morocco, and were super excited to stay in a couple. Because this felt very much a part of the cultural experience, we were willing to pay more for a great riad experience. Fortunately, at the time of our visit in April, there was still a decent amount of availability, despite booking only a few weeks in advance.
Finding a Riad on Airbnb
Airbnb had lots of riads listed, so that was a great starting point. As I peruse through the options, I take special care to look at the reviews, especially those for cleanliness. I also like to look for the delineation that a place is usually booked, as that typically means it’s highly regarded.
One riad popped to the top of my search – it had LOTS of 5-star reviews, it said it was usually booked, and the host was a Superhost. (The title reserved for experienced, regular hosts.) I checked out the photos, and it looked clean and modern, but still classic and beautiful – just what we wanted.
There was also an option to add on a traditional Moroccan breakfast prepared on-site, which we happily included. It was a private riad, so we wouldn’t need to worry about disturbing other guests, and it had 3 bedrooms plus kitchen, living room, courtyard, rooftop patio, and a washer. The ideal space!
I immediately booked it. It was on the higher end of Morocco accommodations prices, but still well within a normal range. Sometimes, you’re not sure if a place can quite live up to your expectations. Turns out, this riad blew even our high expectations out of the water. It was incredible!!
Hopefully this gives you a better idea of our process of searching for and narrowing down the options for family accommodations while traveling. There are always lots of tradeoffs to make, but these are some of our most important criteria for deciding what is most important for our family in each place we visit.
Stay tuned for a post on our favorite options for family accommodations. In the meantime, bon voyage and good luck in your search for family-friendly lodging!
MORE POSTS ABOUT FAMILY ACCOMMODATIONS
IF YOU LIKED THIS POST ABOUT FINDING FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATIONS, YOU MIGHT LIKE THESE POSTS, TOO:
- 10 Tips for Renting Out Your Home on Airbnb
- An Unsponsored Airbnb Review for Traveling Families
- Our Routine for Renting Our Family Home on Airbnb
- Ultimate Travel Guide for Visiting Morocco with Kids
- 10-Day Morocco Itinerary with Kids