Where to Stay When Travelling with Babies and Small Children

Hotels & Motels & Resorts & Villas & Airbnbs, Oh My!

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Where to Stay When Travelling with Babies, Toddlers, and Small Children…

These days, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to accommodation options. But that doesn’t necessarily make it easier to decide where to stay when travelling with babies and small children. Your pre-baby preferences might not work, and the type of trip you’re planning will factor in also.

Where to Stay When Travelling with Babies & Small Children:
Hostels & Pensiones

Pre-kids, staying in hostels or small family-run hotels was my preference, but they aren’t always the best option when traveling with small children. Baby-friendly hostels definitely exist, but are hard to come by. And while many proprietors or host families of small pensiones would undoubtedly be very welcoming, they may not be able to offer the types of amenities you want with babies in tow. Things like shared bathrooms or paper-thin walls may not have been an issue pre-kids, but certainly might be now. Things like a pool or garden to play in may also be harder to locate. Not that the perfect little pensione or casa don’t exist – they’re just a little harder to find.

This is where time (or lack thereof) comes into play. I no longer have the time to research destinations and accommodations to the extent that I used to. And smaller places also don’t usually have the kind of budget required to extensively market themselves. This is also where word of mouth comes into play. If you know of a great B&B, or a small family-run hotel that welcomes small children and has facilities to accommodate them, share your knowledge!

Where to Stay When Travelling with Babies & Small Children:
Self-Catering Hotels & Condos

Self-catering hotels and condos are generally very family-friendly, and having 24-7 access to a kitchen (and sometimes laundry!) is pretty ideal. We traveled like this pre-kids, and loved being able to pop in some toast in the morning and sort ourselves out for most lunches as well. But some families don’t feel like they’re on holiday if they have to cook, and part of their vacation is a big breakfast in a restaurant everyday. There’s also the issue of having to go grocery shopping. Personally, I love going to supermarkets in different parts of the world. That said, it can be a hassle to locate a store and figure out what you want to eat. Now, in many places, they have services where you can order and pre-stock your rental with groceries as well.

But sometimes these types of accommodation are out of the way or in more residential areas, and sorting out transportation to and from attractions and shopping will need to be dealt with. Since a variety of restaurants or shops may not be located within walking distance, you’ll need to factor in how you’ll get around.

The nice thing is that now, decent self-catering hotels and rentals are easier to locate online, with agencies like HomeAway and Vacation Rentals operating on behalf of individual owners, as well as many chain hotels offering a kitchenette as part of a room upgrade. Airbnb hosts usually indicate if their property is appropriate for small children, and some offer cribs and highchairs.

Where to Stay When Travelling with Babies & Small Children:
Hotels and Resorts

For some, resorts – be they all-inclusive or not – are the only way to go. For the most part, all your needs can be met within the boundaries of one hotel. This can be a cost-effective option as well, since all-inclusive resorts usually cover the cost of all meals, snacks, and drinks, including alcoholic drinks. Larger resorts often have child care and baby clubs, and amenities especially for children which can be helpful if yours are the type that need to be kept busy at all times!

My personal difficulty with large resorts is feeling somewhat removed from the local culture, although this can easily be remedied by actually leaving the resort. I shied away from package tours because we found it easier to ask around and find a taxi or driver willing to take us around at our own pace, with our own car seat installed in the car. But if all you need is r and r, this is where a large resort can offer a worry-free holiday. There is no need to take out your wallet or move very far from your sun lounger. Check out these Best Resorts for Babies and Toddlers for some great vacation ideas.

See also:

Our first vacation with baby was at a large all-inclusive resort, and it was a good way to ease into family travel. Once there, all our needs were met with little effort or brainpower, which actually allowed us to relax. It also helped us to realize that we could one day manage more independent travel. As our kids grew and became more settled (and sturdy!) our travel options are now wide open once again.

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