Traveling with a baby is so rewarding and your family trips will create memories which last a lifetime. A huge part of planning a successful trip with a baby is to find accommodation which meets the needs of your family.
If everyone is well-rested, they will be happier, more co-operative and will enjoy their trip so much more. With many family-friendly advantages such as separate bedrooms, full kitchens and laundry facilities, renting an Airbnb with a baby is a great idea for your next trip.
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Pros and Cons of Staying at an Airbnb with a Baby
5 Advantages of Renting an Airbnb with an Infant
- Staying in a single hotel room with a baby can be a terrible experience. If your baby is a light sleeper, you’ll spend your evenings sitting in the dark, whispering to each other, hoping that your baby will eventually fall asleep and then stay asleep.
Staying in an Airbnb overcomes the this disadvantage of staying a hotel with your kids. It’s pretty easy to find a baby-friendly Airbnb rental with at least two bedrooms. This means means your kids can be in a separate room from you. If you are renting an Airbnb with a baby or toddler, be sure to have a good travel baby monitor or a good baby monitor app for your phones.
- Airbnb rentals are generally cheaper than a comparable hotel room.
- When we travel with a baby, we don’t like to eat out at restaurants 3 times a day. Not only does this get expensive, but it eats up a lot of your travel time. Renting a baby-friendly Airbnb with a full kitchen is a huge advantage for families as you can eat healthier meals, save money and best of all, save time.
Our favorite meal strategy when staying at an Airbnb with kids is to eat a healthy breakfast in the Airbnb, pack a healthy lunch to-go, then reward ourselves at the end of the day with a great meal at a restaurant.
- Every new parents knows how messy babies and toddlers can be. Between spitting up and diaper blowouts, it’s hard to pack enough clothes for your baby to last the entire trip. For parents traveling with an infant or toddler, one of the best things about renting an Airbnb with a baby is having access to a washer and dryer.
When we travel with an infant, we like to travel as lightly as possible and having an Airbnb with laundry facilities allows us to pack less clothes for everyone. Instead of packing enough clothes for every day (plus some extras in case clothes get dirty), we can pack half the amount of items and simply do a wash halfway through our family vacation. As a bonus, this can lead to savings on airline baggage fees too!
- Airbnb rentals are typically in residential neighborhoods, which gives your family trip a more authentic feel. In addition, people around the world love babies and it creates an opportunity for your kids to interact with friendly locals at your destination.
4. Disadvantages of Renting an Airbnb with a Baby
- When renting an Airbnb for your family vacation, you are more likely to be dealing with an individual, not a company, which exposes you to some risk if things do not go according to plan. Both VRBO and Airbnb offer limited protection for renters, but once your money is transferred to the apartment owner, you are pretty much stuck dealing with the owner in the case of a dispute.
- Cancellation policies tend to be stricter in apartments vs hotels.
- The selection of baby-friendly vacation rentals available in your timeframe and desired location may be limited vs. hotels.
- If you are traveling with a baby or toddler, you’ll need to consider the safety of the Airbnb rental. As most Airbnb rentals are spaces designed for normal day-to-day living, Airbnb rentals generally have more exposed power outlets than hotels and may not be baby-proofed. If you stay at an Airbnb with a baby, come prepared with some basic baby-proofing gear.
8 Tips to Find the Perfect Airbnb with a Baby
1. Know Your Desired Location
Traveling with kids is harder than traveling without them. As it takes extra time to get everyone ready, extra time to get places, choosing the right location for your family Airbnb is very important.
We recommend you think about all you want to see and do on your family trip and then try to find a kid-friendly Airbnb in the center of these attractions. Both Airbnb and VRBO allow you to search by map, which is a big help finding the right vacation rental location for your trip.
2. Stay Within Your Budget
Traveling with kids can be expensive. Typically, your accommodations costs make up one of the largest components of any family travel budget, so do yourself a big favor an use the search filters to set an upper limit on the nightly cost of your Airbnb.
Here’s what will happen if you don’t. Let’s say your nightly budget for an Airbnb rental is $200/night. If you set your search filter to a maximum of $200/night, we virtually guarantee you’ll find a place that is perfect for your family. But, if you don’t set that nightly price limit, you’ll start seeing much nicer places, in better locations.
Suddenly, all the places you look at within your price range don’t look so hot any more. This can lead you to overspend on accommodation, which will in turn, impact how much money you have to spend to enjoy yourself on your family trip.
If you are traveling on a budget, a great trick we use when renting an Airbnb with kids is to find a really nice rental outside of the main tourist area, but near a subway station. Trading off a few minutes of commuting time can often save you a ton on your accommodation costs, and get a much nicer place. We saved a ton of money visiting Oslo with our kids following this strategy.
3. Review the Airbnb Listing Pictures in Detail
Kids don’t stop being kids just because you are on a family vacation – they are still going to play, run around and be generally crazy, despite your pleas for calm. Because of this, we recommend you look for Airbnb rentals which are uncluttered (i.e. limited décor items, etc.). When possible, we recommend you avoid places with lots of breakables (glass coffee tables), long staircases, etc.
4. Is the Airbnb Pet Friendly
If you have any pet allergies in your family, you may want to avoid renting a pet-friendly Airbnb these. I have allergies to cats and to a lesser degree, dogs.
I have stayed in Airbnbs and hotels that allow pets, and despite their cleaning efforts, I usually can’t breathe within an hour or two… This is a great way to put a damper on your enjoyment of your family vacation.
5. Actually Count the Bedrooms
One trick that Airbnb hosts like to use is to overstate the number of real bedrooms in a rental unit. We’ve rented places listed as a 3-bedroom Airbnb, only to find out it only has two actual bedrooms, with a sofa bed in the living room.
As you review the pictures on the Airbnb listing, do a count of the bedrooms and make sure you can spot each distinct bedroom. If you can’t, message the host for clarification.
6. Read the Airbnb Reviews Thoroughly
We once rented an Airbnb in Valle de Bravo, Mexico which ended up next to a very noisy taxi stand. The noise persisted deep into the night, making it hard for us all to get to sleep and to stay asleep!
Increase your odds of finding a great family Airbnb by reading the reviews thoroughly. Make sure there are no comments about it being noisy, dirty, near a nightclub or near a train (for example). We particularly hone in on reviews of other families who have stayed at the Airbnb with kids.
7. Contact Your Airbnb Host
We always contact our Airbnb host to let them know that we are travelling with a baby. Though they will almost always specify if the property is family/kid friendly, we want to make sure they don’t have any issues with this and we also want to see if they have any baby equipment available.
When we visited Paris with a baby, our host provided a Pack n’ Play for us with linens and our host was prepared with a sheet to put over the couch. We appreciated this since it meant less worry with our little toddling baby and her sticky fingers!
Upon arrival at our Airbnb, we immediately child-proof the rental by moving breakable items and even putting in plug protectors.
8. Look at Airbnb and VRBO
Although Airbnb is currently the main player in the vacation rental market, don’t overlook VRBO. We typically begin with a search for a kid-friendly vacation rental on Airbnb, but if we don’t find the perfect place, we’ll jump over to VRBO. We’ve often had success finding the perfect place on VRBO, so give it a try to improve your selection of family-friendly vacation rentals to choose from.
5 Things to Bring to an Airbnb with a Baby
1. A SlumberPod Privacy Pod
One of the hardest things about staying away from home with a baby is sharing a room. Renting an Airbnb can solve this problem with separate bedrooms, but if you don’t feel comfortable having your baby sleep in a separate room, then you have a challenge to overcome.
If your baby can see or hear you, it makes it significantly harder for your baby to get a good sleep (and good sleep is essential to have a happy, cooperative baby on your family trip).
The SlumberPod Privacy Pod is the perfect solution to this challenge. The SlumberPod is a large, bottomless canopy that fits over your baby’s travel crib or your toddlers travel cot.
It’s made of a stretchy, black fabric that is breathable while still creating a dark blackout baby sleep pod. Your baby will sleep significantly better with a SlumberPod Privacy Pod, even if you are in the same room.
2. A Travel White Noise Machine
The SlumberPod solves the problem of making it dark enough for your baby to sleep in the same room as you. A travel-friendly white noise machine or white-noise app will help solve the issue of your baby not being familiar with all the noises in your new environment.
If you use your white noise machine at home prior to your family trip, bringing it with you will mimic your baby’s at home sleep environment. Check out our list of the best white noise machines for travel.
3. Bring Travel Blackout Blinds
Almost all new parents put a significant amount of energy into training their babies to be good sleepers. A big source of anxiety for parents traveling with a baby is worrying if their hard work will be undone.
One option we really like are the Sleepout Curtains which have industrial-strength suction cups plus extra Sleepout pads to help stop any light from coming through on the edges! You can read our full sleepout curtains review, or if you wish, read more on on the Sleepout curtains webpage and use code babycantravel for a discount!
4. A Baby Travel Bed
When you need to find an Airbnb with a crib or a Pack n’ Play, it really limits the selection of places you can choose from for your family vacation. A clever way of overcoming this is to bring a baby travel bed or toddler travel bed. This allows your family to choose from virtually all available Airbnb rentals (unless, of course, children are not allowed).
We traveled all over the world with our KidCo PeaPod Plus.
5. Baby Travel Essentials
When staying in an Airbnb with a baby, the recommended baby gear above is an effective combination for a well-rested baby. To help make your family trip as successful as possible, you should consider looking at your other baby travel gear needs.
Our list of must-have baby travel essentials covers the best baby travel gear for sleeping, for getting around, for eating and the all-important baby airplane travel gear. If you’d prefer to pack lightly, check out our guide to renting baby gear for travel.
If you’re not convinced that an Airbnb or VRBO rental is right for your family, then check out our tips to find the best hotel for your family.
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This post was written & edited by:
Celine is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's been helping new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade.
Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.