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Why Vacation Rentals Work for Family Travelers

September 22, 2012
My family rented a vacation house in England in January 2011. And we’d do it again. In a heartbeat.
Friends and readers ask me all the time whether vacation rentals or hotels offer better accommodations for traveling families. My answer: vacation rentals, hands down.

Q.What percentage of bookings would you say represents family travelers?
A. According to research, more than 75 percent of  customers are people traveling with their families or friends and family.
Q. In your experiences, what sorts of amenities are family travelers looking for?
A. In a word: Value! Families want to be comfortable when traveling, which means space, privacy, extra room for extended family and caregivers, a kitchen and great value for their money! In this economy, affordability trumps space, amenities and location.
Q. Generally speaking, what about vacation rentals makes them a good fit (or better fit than hotels) for family travelers?
A. I love that question. Vacation rentals give families more options and flexibility; that is key when traveling with kids. We choose them over hotels when possible because we have more space and more amenities for less money. Not to mention the memories we create spending real quality time together. To me, it’s all about getting more for less. I’m not a math person, but even I get that equation. My husband and I took our two girls (both under the age of three) to Montauk, N.Y., this summer for our family vacation and because we stayed in a vacation rental we were able to bring along both my mother and our full-time babysitter. We enjoyed tons of activities like swimming in the ocean, mini-golf, pony rides, live music and nice dinners out on the town. Plus, we had three bedrooms, two baths, a huge living area for the kids, our own kitchen AND an adorable jungle gym/swing set in the backyard. A hotel just doesn’t offer that kind of space or flexibility for families. We felt lucky to be in a home that actually became part of our vacation rather than just a place to stay.
Q. To what extent can vacation rentals arrange for baby-oriented items such as cribs and/or high chairs?
A. Vacation rental companies usually don’t specifically arrange for baby items to be made available in properties, You can also talk to the vacation rental company ahead of time and see if certain items can be rented during your stay and from where. Again, it’s all about the personal conversations with the owner/manager before renting to determine if a property is right for you.
Q. What advice can you offer family travelers who are interested in booking a vacation rental but have never done so before?
A. A few things. First, ask questions and have every detail nailed down in your rental agreement ahead of time including what items will be available at the rental (linens, kitchen necessities, etc.) Also, never pay with cash or money order; always use a traceable means of payment such as PayPal or credit card. Next, make sure you have a contact (if not the owner or manager) locally at your destination in case something comes up. Look for rental listings that list ‘family-friendly’ or ‘kid-friendly’ as part of their description.

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