Our Helpful Secrets to Booking an Airbnb with a Toddler

June 8, 2017

We’ve taken Owen with us on almost every vacation we’ve taken since he was born. He’s been to the west coast in the US, to Mexico, Costa Rica, France and now Germany. When we’ve traveled west we’ve always stayed with family, but on every other trip (which is clearly now part of our daily lives) we’ve stayed in an Airbnb or something like it, never hotels. There are many reasons for this, most of which I shared here, but ultimately it has been what works for our family no matter how short or long the stay is. I figured since we’re kinda, sorta becoming well rounded in this area I would share with you guys what we look for and our secrets when we’re booking an Airbnb. As always, I would love any tips you guys have too, because like anything in life, it’s a work in progress over here!

1. Determine your sleeping arrangement. For us this is easy since Owen co-sleeps, but if you’re traveling with a porta-crib or something similar make sure there will be space to set that sucker up. If you’re in the same boat as us, then making sure that there’s a large enough bed is key along with determining the location of the bed. In Paris we had a separate bedroom that was pretty much just the bed and our clothes and in Berlin the only thing separate from the bedroom space is the kitchen, but there’s a table and chairs in there which gives Zack and I space to work or hang out after Owen is down for the night.

2. Check for a washing machine. Now this is essential for us since we aren’t going home after each place we land. Each of the places I share with you here we like to think of as our homes and a big part of that is feeling comfortable and having clean clothes, towels and sheets when we need them. Obviously, we would make it work if there wasn’t one in the unit, but it’s something we’ve enjoyed having around both in Paris and Berlin.

3. Functionality over design. It’s easy to want to book the dreamiest space you see on Airbnb or any other similar site, but you want to actually feel comfortable wherever you’re staying (I’m not talking about accidentally spilling your wine, I’m talking about toddlers destroying artwork). If you’re looking at images of the property and thinking your kiddo is going to be slamming doors left and right and getting into things they shouldn’t maybe re-think it. There are plenty of homes that are beautiful and set up in a way that is accommodating for little ones!

4. Really look at your kitchen set up. We don’t need much, if you remember our 36 square-foot kitchen, but we all have our essentials when it comes to cooking gear and utensils. While a microwave isn’t necessary for us and we could live without an oven temporarily, a stove top or burner, some sort of coffee device, at least one nice knife and some pots and pans are musts.

5. Check for a tub or large sink.
Owen has moved completely to showers so this isn’t necessary for us now, but it was definitely something we used to have to consider regardless of where we were. I find that anything that allows your typical routine to go uninterrupted is super helpful when traveling with kids!

6. Make sure there’s a market close by. Since Owen’s drinking milk it’s crucial that we have some sort of market nearby wherever we’re staying to make sure we’re stocked on that as well as breakfast items and snacks. He typically eats wherever we’re eating so we don’t need to have full meals for him here if we’re planning to go out to eat, but as you know having a kitchen full of groceries is basically my happy place so we make it a priority.

7. If your space is small, make sure there’s outdoor space attached to your unit or within walking distance. We’ve really lucked out both in Paris and Berlin with the park situation and it’s been essential making sure Owen is getting time to play outside and get energy out before naps and bedtime. It’s also been great when one of us really needs to focus and get some work done for the other one to have the space to take Owen to play without feeling like you’re getting completely kicked out of your home.

8. Ask your host questions. Both our host in Paris and here in Berlin have been extremely accommodating to us traveling with a toddler and staying in their properties. They were both very vocal about the fact that their units we’re on the fourth floor in Paris and the third floor in Berlin and were clear about the expectations of our stay and the condition the apartment should be left in. If there’s anything that feels up in the air for you just reach out and ask – it’s important to them that you’re happy, leave a good review and that your experience is enjoyable. It’s a two way street.

9. Read the reviews. This seems like a no brainer to me, but you must read the reviews on Airbnb. They play a key role in the success rate of your stay and can usually point out any red flags you didn’t catch about the listing. Maybe the neighborhood is loud? Maybe the heat or ac isn’t the best? It’s all about the details people!

10. Before you book take 15 minutes and research the neighborhood. Everyone is looking for something a little different out of their vacations/travels, but for us we look for these five things. 1. Is it safe? 2. Are their good restaurants/cafes/bars? 3. Are we in close proximity to public transportation? 4. Is it a family friendly? 5. Is it touristy? We like to stay outside of the touristy neighborhoods to allow for a bit of an escape and typically a quieter neighborhood.

What do you guys look for when you’re booking a place to stay with your kiddos? Is there anything I’m not thinking of?

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