Planning the right accommodations with children can be frustrating and overwhelming due to all the options and considerations that must be taken into account when traveling with more than two people. First and foremost, it is important to decide which kind of accommodation best suits your needs and the amount of children traveling with you. If you plan on only being in a location for a couple of days, it probably makes more sense to stay in a hotel. However, if you decide to be at a location more than a few days, it probably makes more sense to potential rent a house. Usually this saves in costs and allows you to “settle down” for a few days rather than living out of a hotel. Good websites to check for renting apartments or houses include www.airbnb.com (although they have had some legal issues lately so be extra cautious when booking with them. That being said, I’ve only had positive experiences with Airbnb) or www.homeaway.com.
Regardless of what type of accommodation you decide to choose, I would recommend renting or staying in a place close to the city center. While the accommodations closer to the city center tend to be more expensive, you save in terms of city transportation and the hassle of constantly having to go in and out of the city with children. Overall, you might end up saving money because you can walk everywhere with your children rather than having to pay for city transportation. This also allows for flexibility within your day and easy access to the hotel if you need to return during the day.
When staying in a hotel, the easiest way to cut costs is to sign up for a loyalty rewards program (if the hotel has one) or to sign up with other programs such as AAA, AARP, etc. My personal favorite is the Hilton HHonors Program with allows you to earn points when staying at Hampton, Hilton, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites, and various other hotels that are part of the Hilton chain. On a recent family vacation, we were able to have three nights free at a Hilton in the center of a Europe city after trading in our points. Other hotel chains also have similar programs. If you tend to travel a lot, signing up for a loyalty rewards program is essential. Furthermore, most hotels offer discounts if you are a member of AAA, AARP, active military, etc. Make sure to ask when making the reservation about other discounts that might apply!
Be sure to check ahead of time for all the extras and hidden costs. If you require a crib or mini-fridge, make sure to request those items when booking your reservation. Most of the time, they are free but some hotels might tack on a fee. Lastly, it is important to take into account whether breakfast is included in the hotel rate or an additional cost. Also, double-check the maximum occupancy for each hotel room. It would be horrible to get to the hotel and either be charged an additional fee for extra people or have to pay for another hotel room. As always, when in doubt, ask about additional fees that may apply!
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