Hotel rules for you and the kids not cutting it anymore? Check out these cool and creative options for lodging -- while traveling with the husband and kids in tow.
Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla: When my husband and I traveled (before we had children), we liked to stay at bed and breakfasts. We liked them small, but with several accommodations per property, so there wasn't the fear that you would run into your hosts in their underwear on the way to the bathroom.
Like the Madonna Inn, the rooms had themes, fireplaces, balconies, and Jacuzzi tubs. When we had our first child and were going away for a weekend, imagine my surprise when these charming antique-filled homes did not want my squalling infant! Overnight, the way we traveled had changed forever. We ended up in a regular hotel room -- and that's where we were for most of our vacations with one child. Adequate, but generic ... Also, not great at naps and bedtime, when often we would be either sitting in the dark pleading silently for sleep to overtake her, or worse, if it was light, crouched by the side of the bed hoping we were out of sight of her in the Pack-n-Play.
We had another child, and after a while, started in with the suite hotels -- Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites. Much, much better for us. They were still generic, but had another room -- a kitchenette! These made all the difference. When we had our third child, we found that many hotels limited occupants to four to a room, even if the fifth was in a crib. We could get adjoining rooms at double the price, of course, but often a hotel wouldn't guarantee that the rooms we ended up with would actually be adjoining until check-in. Some suite hotels would require a two-bedroom suite if there were five of us, and they were tough to come by. We started checking out houses.
My favorite site is Vrbo.com, which stands for Vacation Rentals by Owner. Other similar sites that I use are Homeaway.com, Cyberrentals.com, Vacationsfrbo.com, and Vacationhomerentals.com. When we visited my in-laws near Orlando, Fla., we were able to rent a three-bedroom house with a pool for $150 a night, plus taxes. We were less than two miles away from them, but everyone had their own space to go back to at the end of the day. Prices vary by location, of course, but I've found you can always find a good deal -- in most cases better than a hotel, and the accommodations are always unique. I've stayed in an apartment in Chicago, a rowhouse in Philadelphia, a house near an Indiana lake with its own stocked trout pond and paddleboat, and a two-bedroom, 100-year-old, traditional Japanese townhouse in Kyoto, Japan. We rent houses for our own family vacations, and when traveling with other families or on girls' or guys' weekends. Some houses have hot tubs, bunk beds, BBQs, and play structures. Do your homework, though. Make sure the location is not too remote or too urban for you. Check out pictures and reviews, and then happy trails to you ...
A former state deputy attorney general and current stay-at-home mom, Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla has three kids and ten years of experience stretching one salary to cover the necessities and more. She's all about saving money whenever you can, so you have it to spend on whatever you want!