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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.

family in a hotel room

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 ...


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5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Dana September 16, 2009, 9:52 PM

Watch for rate specials on small, smart vacation rentals and holiday homes on Eco Luxury Living

Julia April 16, 2010, 6:47 PM

Great article! My favorite vacation rental site is www.rentalo.com! this company offers an inquiry service that saved me a tons of time when searching for lodging deals online … plus I also get deals from hotels and bed and breakfasts. Try it!

Brighton Chalets August 26, 2010, 12:22 PM

Thanks for the post! Very interesting, I don’t have kids yet but I haven’t thought about traveling differently once I do.

http://brightonchalets.com

Kingsley January 17, 2011, 11:33 AM

I have a little girl, and I brought her to one of those Costa Rica vacation rentals instead of a hotel; we had the time of our life.

Jun Jun February 28, 2011, 11:59 AM

It sounds like you had quite the dilemma trying to find adequate lodging during your vacations with such a big family. Your solution however is simply wonderful! I wouldn’t have realized that vacation homes could be such a help for families without reading this. Thank you for sharing this!


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