Since having children, our travel accommodation preference has changed drastically. Gone are the days of booking one nice hotel room and scouting airfare deals for two.
Our post-kiddo travel seems to include more car drives and vacation rentals, because let’s face it, buying 4 plane tickets and having to go to sleep by 7:00-7:30pm in a shared hotel room with young kids is no bueno.
In the past four years we’ve probably stayed in 7-8 different vacation rentals. Since my daughter has food allergies we appreciate having a kitchen for cooking our own meals, plus separate sleep/living quarters and laundry facilities. We’ve stayed in everything from privately owned homes and condos to timeshare condos with resort accommodations.
Check out my picks for top vacation rental websites for families:
I heart you VRBO. Really, I do. Of all the sites I’m about to mention, VRBO (which stands for “vacation rental by owner”) is the one we come back to the most. It’s user friendly, comprehensive and free! I would say over half of our vacation rentals have been scored through this website. (Keep in mind Homeaway, VRBO and VacationRentals are all the same company.)
Oh, the illustrious timeshare. While I’d probably never actually invest in one, I don’t mind picking up deals from other timeshare owners trying to unload their unused weeks(s). We’ve used SellMyTimeshareNow (catchy name, eh?) when booking stays at Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas – which as a total sidebar is a fabulous family-friendly place with great views ta-boot…sigh.
Redweek is another site devoted to timeshares. We’ve picked up timeshare weeks for the Marriot Newport Coast Villas and Cabo through this site. It’s a toss up for whether I prefer SellMyTimeshareNow or Redweek for scoring deals. I recommend checking both places and I always recommend shooting an offer below asking price to see if you can snag something for less. We actually like waiting to the last minute to book sometimes because you can negotiate the best deals with the owners that way. What can I say, we like to live on the edge. 😉
No, Tripadvisor isn’t just for reading scathing reviews of potential travel spots. It also has a vacation rental division. The nature of Tripadvisor’s website makes it a great place for finding individual reviews on most of their listings, which can come in handy. It’s another comprehensive, reliable site for checking out vacation rentals.
Okay, admittedly HomeExchange is one website I’ve yet to actually test out, but I’m dying to try it. I learned about it a few years ago after reading this article on Apartment Therapy about a Phoenix family that exchanged homes with another family in the South of France. I’ve been captivated with the idea of traveling this way because of the cost savings and the ability to go to so many less tourist-y (yes, I like to turn nouns into adjectives by adding y’s, don’t you?) parts of cities. The idea is simple: You stay in my house I stay in yours. I’m hoping to try it out someday and thought it was worth mentioning on this list.