There are many pieces to the puzzle of how to travel and depending how you book, lodging can either help your money situation or completely blow your budget. This is how our family is able to stay at some of the most luxurious and unique places without breaking the bank.
The beauty of staying in an apartment/house/villa/boat through these websites is that you’re essentially staying as a resident and not a tourist. Many of these places are located in areas where hotels can only dream of being and most times, are LESS EXPENSIVE.
Why we love Airbnb/HomeAway:
- We’re always traveling with the 2 babes and it becomes quite difficult for all of us to stay in one room or expensive for us to rent two rooms or a family suite in a hotel. It’s a no-brainer for us to rent a place with 2 or more bedrooms with a kitchen and living room. This is a unique opportunity that I love to experience over and over.
- So many home owners leave wine/beer/snacks from that region as a welcoming gift which can be a much needed stress reliever if you’re arriving late with kids and need to get them to bed.
What they can work on:
- Sometimes the owners can and will cancel on you last minute. I had an apartment booked for 3 of our families in France over Christmas weekend and our trip was canceled by the landlords, 2 days prior to our stay which threw a wrench in our plans.
- You’re at the mercy of the landlord as to when check-in/check-out time is. Most times people are very accommodating and will meet with you when needed but we all know delays happen and sometimes it’s difficult to contact the owner for updates, especially if you’re traveling in a different country where you cell phone doesn’t work.
- There isn’t a “Standard” like you’ll find at hotels. Some places are downright gross but so far we’ve only encountered one of these (and it was only half gross). Have you seen my post on how to book your Airbnb/HomeAway stay like a Pro?
2. Eat in for some meals.
Would it be amazing to dine out for every meal? Of course! But something I’ve noticed, especially with having kids, is that it can be difficult to get ready and out of the house early enough to grab breakfast on the run, let alone going out for every meal and have happy campers accompanying you.
- If we’re not staying within a block of a bakery, we usually pick up breakfast at the local market to keep in our kitchen. This way, we’re not stressing the kids to get out of their “I just woke up” phase and the hubs and I can eat breakfast in shifts (while the other showers).
- I always have food left over when we go out to a restaurant and when traveling, my eyes are constantly bigger than my stomach. Since we stay at a place with a kitchen, it’s nice to eat ‘Round 2’ for lunch the following day.
- Depending on your babes’ ages, they may require to be in bed by 8pm. Sometimes we get lucky and can get the kids to bed around 9pm after a long day but if they’re past the point of tired, it’s nice to heat up a quick dinner for them and order take out for the hubs and I to enjoy at our leisure (most times, on our personal balcony).
3. Buy entry tickets beforehand, online.
So you’ve done your research and know what destinations you want to visit. If you need tickets for entry, reserve them as soon as possible! Chances are, if you want to see these places, so does everyone else and spots can and do fill up. Don’t waste your valuable time (and your kids’ patience) waiting in line. Many times, if there is a charge for the ticket, you can receive a discount by paying for them in advance. I’ve also found that larger cities offer sightseeing passes where you can go to your “must sees” for a discounted price and sometimes even cut the line (huge time saver). While you’re researching, find out if any of these spots have a “Free Entry” day. If your trip is to Europe, I suggest downloading the Rick Steves’ tours. They have great reviews and are highly informative.
Another popular way of seeing a city without spending too much is signing up for a “Hop-on/Hop-off” tour where you ride a bus that gives you a tour of the city and you can hop off at any stop, look around and hop on another one of their buses whenever you’re ready to move on. It’s usually best to book at the beginning of your trip so you know what the city has to offer and you can always go back to certain places of interest later.
4. Research public transit.
If you arrive to your destination by any means other than your personal (or rented) car, research what public transportation the area offers and how close the nearest station is to your location. If you do have a car at your disposal, it may still be less expensive to use public transit as parking can add up! Again, knowing where you want to go will work to your advantage. Determine how many days you’ll need to use the metro, bus lines or train. If you purchase your pubic transit tickets in bulk (ie. one 3-Day ticket instead of three 1-Day tickets), most times, you’ll end up paying much less.
5. Research cheap/free parking garages.
If you arrive by car, make sure you know where to keep it and how long you want to keep it there. We drove to Paris, parked the car in a garage all week and utilized public transportation because it was much cheaper to reserve a spot for a consistent week than paying each time we left the garage in addition to parking and gas. A good App to find (and sometimes pay in advance for) parking garages is Parkopedia Parking. Remember, it’s always good to have a game plan beforehand than to figure it out while you’re unloading the car.
Do you have any tried and true things that you do to ensure a savings for your lodging stay? I’d love to hear them!