Today’s Hint: Skip a Hotel Room for a Vacation Rental

Ever since my daughter was 4 months old, we’ve stayed in rentals rather than hotels when we’ve gone on vacation (or the closet thing to a “vacation” when you bring kids along). Still, as we start to plan our toddlermoon, I can’t help but wonder whether we should go the hotel route. So I turned to Keryn Means, the travel expert behind Walking On Travels. Today’s hint, a guest post from Keryn, is her take on why to always go for a vacation rental when you’re traveling with kids in tow. And be sure to check out my guest post over at Walking On Travels on my favorite toddler- (and parent-) friendly San Francisco activities

My son was up. Again. This would be the third time that night. He was fussy, not to mention loud, as he belted out his indignation over this new round of pain as yet another tooth broke through. At home this would be no problem, but on vacation, well, I was happy I had booked a vacation rental instead of a hotel. Hotel guests aren’t exactly keen to hear a baby screaming at three in the morning.

When you are traveling with your family, a hotel seems like the logical option. You get the concierge; you get room service and housekeeping. What’s not to love? Yes, you get the services and amenities, but you lose out on space for the family to spread apart and privacy for mom and dad, and you get the added expense of every meal being eaten at a restaurant.

Before I started traveling with my sons, I was happy enough to stay in a hotel and be looked after, but I knew there had to be a better way once my kids started traveling with us. Vacation rentals have been our lifesaver. Don’t believe me? Well today’s hint is three reasons I will always choose a rental over a hotel when my boys are in tow.

The beach a block from one of our Hawaii rentals.

The beach a block from one of our Hawaii rentals.

1. Maintain your sanity. Ever since my oldest son, now 4 years old, was born, we have tried to rent at least a one-bedroom condo when we travel. At 5 months old he shared a room with us, but we had a separate kitchen and sitting room in the condo we had rented on Maui.

This was not just for our comfort, as we had grown from two adults to a family of three, but it was also for our sanity. When my son was up at 5 a.m. because of jet lag, I was able to snatch him up out of his crib and take him into the living room. He had his breakfast, while I made coffee and caught up on the day’s news. My husband was left to sleep the wee hours of the morning away. We would perform this ritual every day, with my husband and I alternating who got to sleep in. If we were sharing a hotel room, this scenario wouldn’t be possible.

2. Save some cash. Renting a vacation home or condo not only gives you more space to spread out, but it also gives you more space for the same price as many hotel rooms. On the Big Island of Hawaii, we rented a two-bedroom apartment that cost us much less than any of the hotel properties in Kona, but we still had the benefits of being close to downtown.

In Kyoto, Japan, I rented a two-bedroom machiya (traditional Japanese house) for the same, if not less than, a miniscule hotel room that would barely fit a crib for my son. As my family has grown with the addition of my second son, the added space is necessary so we all get a good night sleep during these early years of teething, night wakings and nap schedules.

The kitchen in one of our vacation rentals.

The kitchen in one of our vacation rentals.

3. Make a meal. Space is great, but what your kids really need at six in the morning is breakfast. You know those tiny refrigerators you sometimes find in your hotel room? Yes, the one that is filled with the minibar snacks and drinks, so full, in fact, that you can’t squeeze a yogurt and a cup of milk in for your toddler while on holiday. When you rent a house while traveling you usually get not only a full-size, empty fridge, but also an entire kitchen.

Just think of all the quiet mornings you can have over coffee while your kids play happily in the living room, tummies full and room enough for all of their dolls and race cars to find their own places to shack up during your stay. Having a kitchen means you can have snacks and breakfast in the house, which will give your travel budget a little more wiggle room and even give you permission to splurge on that fancy night out while a sitter watches the kids.

You may have to sacrifice on the indoor pool (well, maybe not if you get the right rental) and room service if you opt for a vacation rental, but what you will gain in privacy and comfort will be well worth the inconvenience of having to make your own bed in the morning (or not. I never make my bed on vacation.)

So, before you book your next trip with your kids, look at your rental options. There are several vacation rental sites, such as and, out there that can give you a range of listings and price points, from studio apartments to two-bedroom bungalows, or if you are feeling royal, you could land yourself a castle or a villa for the week. Just think of all the room your kids will have to run, and scream if need be, in the wee hours of the morning.

Do you agree? What’s your take on where to stay when you vacation with little ones? Rental or hotel, and why?

Keryn Means is a freelance writer and founder of Walking on Travels, a site that gives hope to today’s modern parents who don’t want to stop their lives; they simply bring their kids along for the ride. You can find Keryn dragging her two boys around Seattle most days and across the globe several times a year. Follow along on their adventures on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest and Twitter

Follow Hint Mama on Facebook and Twitter, and read more about her and her disclosures.

Photo credit: Keryn Means

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