Now that you have figured out where you are going it is time to sort out where to stay exactly… Choosing the right place to stay on a vacation, be it for two weeks or one night, can make or break a trip in my opinion! Here are a few things I have found helpful to think about. I am going to use an apartment as my example, but these thoughts can totally be applied to hotels, hostels, camping… whatever! If you choose to rent an apartment my favourite websites are listed at the bottom with a few more tips.
- Location, location, location… take some time to research the exact area that you want to spend your time in and then book a place there! This will allow you to really make the most of your vacation. Having a little one you never know when you will need to make a quick trip “home”! Being close to your home base allows you to come and go as you will. I like to take note of parking options (if you have a car) and/or access to public transportation. You would be shocked at how much parking can be sometimes and if you are staying somewhere for a while it is nice to be near public transport! In Europe I have noticed that not all public transportation is created equal. You may need to lug a stroller up and down stairs… so be prepared!
- How much space do you and baby need to sleep soundly? If you have a sensitive munchkin you might put the most emphasis on this, or if not this might not be a big deal. For me I have a very hard time sleeping beside H… I wake up to every sigh, peep and squeak. This doesn’t necessarily mean we need to have a separate bedroom for baby H, but we do require a large enough room that she is not right beside my head! Having a separate bedroom for naps is glorious. Also having a separate bedroom for when the little one goes to bed early is nice (so that you don’t have to hide under the covers watching Netflix with earphones). Depending on your little one, splurging on having a bedroom can make all the difference or, if you are really lucky, maybe it doesn’t matter as your babe can sleep anywhere!
- Safety… I have noticed looking at many apartment photos that some people just really love to decorate… this can make a place look far more inviting, eclectic or sometimes a bit odd. An apartment’s decorating style is something that takes on a whole new level of importance with a little one. If you have a curious munchkin seeing a thousand knick-knacks might now be a good idea. If there are numerous open fireplaces with massive pointy coffee tables… perhaps this will be an issue for your family. Are their stairs in very inconvenient locations? These are all things to consider… None of these things would necessarily sway me away from a place, but if there were a place next door that didn’t have these issues why wouldn’t I book there instead?
- Cleanliness (floors in particular). After our house in Hawaii I realized once H was mobile I would need to pay more attention to the floors… seems a bit funny but with a little person crawling around and sticking everything she can possibly get into her mouth, floor cleanliness takes on an entire new meaning.
- What extras does the apartment come with? Not necessarily a make or break, but something that might just sway you on one place over another. For our France trip I made sure that each place we are staying at has a washing machine. Sometimes places will specifically list that they have things such as cribs and high chairs, which can be totally awesome! As I mentioned in my previous post (about choosing a destination) if you don’t want to bring things with you, renting is also an option. I found that if baby things were not listed, if you ask, often places would still provide them! If you are staying in a hotel you will want to ask them as well. Something to keep in mind is that some cribs/high chairs or whatever might not be in the best condition. At the bare minimum I always like to bring my own sheet for baby H. Also, most likely there won’t be any crib bumpers or anything like that. I always have in the back of my mind that if something looks REALLY not clean or safe enough for me I can always either make H a bed in a bathtub, or N and I have even discussed how he can sleep on a pull-out couch and I can sleep with baby H… you can always figure something out!
Other things that might make a difference if you have a particularly fussy little one: noise level of the area, what sort of blinds do the rooms have (is it going to be dark enough for babe to sleep) and heating (in colder months some European houses really have poor insulation)!
I love booking accommodation with airbnb.ca and vrbo.com. I have used both of these sites and have never had issues with either. Make sure you don’t forget to look at the cleaning and service fees. Sometimes the cleaning fee can be significant and then other times it is nothing! It is worth noting that with airbnb you can have rates in Canadian currency, and with vrbo the rates are in American dollars. Also don’t be afraid to branch out and try other sites depending on where you are going. When we were in the Cinque Terre, Italy we found an individual website for what turned out to be a really wonderful apartment (most of the rentals in this area at that time had personal websites and were wonderful)! The key is to do a little bit of research to make sure it is legitimate but sometimes you can find some hidden gems!