Over the years we have run the gamut of travel accommodation types WHILE TRAVELLING WITH KIDS. We have stayed in some places that made the girls’ and I feel like princesses, some mid-range spots, as well as a couple of pretty dodgy places. Some of these spots were selected ahead of time (the “nicer” ones) while others came from having no other options.
No matter the spot, in every location, every accommodation type, every travel style, and every budget, we have always found a silver lining.
Backpacking / Road Tripping / Camping / the Unplanned Adventure
Backpacking now, with kids, isn’t quite the same as the solo backpacking trips that I took through Central America and Europe in my 20’s. But it can be done, and fun, none-the-less. Think, less partying, more adventuring.
We have taken our girls on road trips where the accommodations for the night were unknown. The type where we would sleep wherever we ended up, or in our tent.
We have done the trips where you’re only bringing what you can carry in a backpack. The minimalistic packing that showed the girls that many of the things they use in their everyday lives are not necessities.
Travelling backpacking style, we have camped in some epic locations, we have also slept in hotel rooms where we pulled the beds away from the walls thinking it may keep some of the bugs off our girls while they slept!
Even with a small budget, travel and adventure are possible. The smaller budget sometimes leading to larger adventures. Because who wants to sit in a dank hotel room when you could be outside discovering.
Silver linings: low budget. minimalist packing. off-the-beaten-path.
Your Standard Hotel
This happens to be Ellia’s favourite style of travel. She is a very easy one to please. When booking somewhere, her two questions are:
“Does it have a pool?”
“Do they serve breakfast?”
That’s all that girl wants. She doesn’t care so much about the location or size of the hotel room. All that matters to her is the pool and breakfast. Every hotel search engine comes with those filters, so it makes booking easy. The extra filter that I add into our hotel search is an airport shuttle.
We usually stay in hotels when we are flying. The night before a flight, to be near the airport, or during layovers. As a parent there is an ease in knowing that I don’t have to think about feeding the kids when we wake up, the hotel serves breakfast. That the girls will have the pool to burn off energy in between flights. And that getting to and from the airport is taken care of for me.
Silver linings: every budget. easy booking. amenity filters.
For stays longer than two nights, we find the convenience of having our own kitchen to be key. It’s also easier on the wallet than going out to the restaurant for every meal. With sites like Airbnb and VRBO/HomeAway booking a room or an entire house with all the amenities you need to feel at home in your travel destination can be done in a couple of clicks.
We also like the privacy that this type of accommodation provides. With two kids, it’s more relaxing being in a place where they can be themselves, rather than having to remind them every few minutes not to make too much noise because there are neighbouring hotel room guests. We have very well-behaved girls, but they are still kids and I don’t want the guilt that I put on myself that we might be bothering someone else’s trip.
With home rentals, not only the house, but the location is important to us. We like being in the middle of everything where we’re able to walk everywhere with the girls. We want an authentic cultural experience. Often we will research the area we are going, choose the spots we want to visit and look for a rental within that area.
Silver linings: every budget. home amenities. location preference. long-term rentals.
Want to feel like a princess? Or King? Or super posh? Renting a villa is a whole other level from renting an Airbnb house.
Here you get the conveniences of a regular house rental, like having your own kitchen and the privacy of home, but instead of just a house you get a luxury spot, and depending who you rent with, you can also add all sorts of fun extras.
With Villa Finder, for example, you have a concierge to help you make all your travel dreams come true. Need the perfect family-friendly villa, a chauffeur, a high-chair, turn-down service, a chef? Everything can be arranged and hand-picked for you. They take all the research and guesswork out of your travel-planning, just tell them what you want and they will make it happen. We have not yet used Villa Finder as we haven’t been to that side of the world with our girls…yet!
We stayed somewhere like this while we were in Zanzibar, Tanzania. It was an amazing experience. We still, to this day, talk about it. We felt like royalty. At Asilia’s Matemwe lodge we had a personal chef, for every meal!, and a live-in butler checking in on us to make sure we had everything we desired. We had TWO constantly fully-stocked beverage fridges, there was our private pool outside our dining room, and a beach just steps away. We never wanted to leave!
Silver lining: luxury. high-quality accommodations. concierge to help organize.
All-Inclusives and Cruise Ships
We have yet to do a cruise ship with the girls, we went as a couple pre-kids, but we really want to do one. All-inclusive, we have done.
If you want to keep your decision making to a minimum, this is the way to go. Once you are there, either on the ship or at the resort, all you need to think about is, which restaurant you want to eat at and which pool do you want to sit by.
When looking for an all-inclusive for our family, we look for one that is kid-friendly and preferably has a kids club. Many places allow kids, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are “kid-friendly”.
Again with my worry of bothering someone else’s kid-free vacation.
We’ve also discovered that a good kids’ club means for a lot of kid-free time for us. We stayed at this one resort where we barely saw the girls the entire time because their club was so fun the girls wanted to spend their days there playing, rather than lounging by the pool with us! OK!
Funny fact about us: we lived in an “all-inclusive” in the Dominican Republic for 6 months, for work. The girls called it the HOME-Tel. They were little. They also recently told us a memory of their time there, that their “babysitter” would make them virgin piña coladas…that was not the babysitter, that was Genesis, the bartender! LOL
Silver lining: everything conveniently onsite. entertainment. no cooking, no dishes!
Sailboat or Trailer
For long-term travel: bring your home with you!
For those that have been following us for a while, you know that we lived on a boat for many years, and we also own a small travel trailer back in Canada that we stay in whenever we go back there.
Boats and trailers, just like house rentals, have the huge plus of having all the conveniences of a house available to you. If you want to be able to travel around, but still feel at home, a boat or trailer are a fun way to do it.
We would never have been able to afford travelling for so many years had we had to pay for rentals all along the way! Since we had our sailboat to live and travel with, we travelled a lot of the Caribbean while providing our girls with the “constant” of always having their home.
Now, I realize there is the large start cost of purchasing the boat or trailer, and the cost of upkeep and the fact that living in small spaces is not for everyone, but what can I say, we are COMPLETELY BIASED and loved travelling while bringing our home with us!!!
Silver linings: bring your home with you. adventure.
Having kids has never stopped us from travelling. Sure, sometimes the cost of plane tickets or accommodations makes us temporarily put off a trip until we have a chunk of time where we can go for a longer period to truly enjoy a spot. But in the meantime, we still find ways to travel, more locally, and maybe to the lower budget spots. There are times for luxury trips, and times for the budget trips.
No matter the trip or the accommodation, there are always the silver linings that travelling with kids is a chance to make memories, it is character building, and it is a learning experience.
Maybe tonight we will travel to our backyard and camp out.