In the past 11 months, my family has stayed in over 40 Airbnbs. And with that level of experience and repetition, we’ve learned a few things about locking in comfortable, welcoming, fun homes that work great when traveling with a baby or toddler.
First off, I’ll clarify why we’ve become such fans of Airbnb during this year on the road. Above all, staying in home rentals has allowed us to save money, explore like a local, and build routine even while bouncing around. Airbnbs have provided us kitchens to cook nutritious family meals, enough space to not be on top of each other, and neighborhood introductions that allow us to really sink into a new place.
We’ve used hotels in a pinch, and we’ve found accommodations through friends on a few ocassions, but by and large, Airbnb is our go-to for family travel.
Filter for cribs
And now for the tips on how to make Airbnb really work for you.
Here’s my number one: filter your search for accommodations that offer cribs (if your child uses one). In the Airbnb app, buried under “amenities,” you’ll find the option to require a crib or pack-n-play during your stay. Leveraging this has enabled us to not worry about packing a bulky travel cot, and allowed us to identify homes that are generally more kid friendly. A family that owns a crib likely also owns high chairs, sturdier dishes, a few toys and books.
The filter definitely limits the selection, and there have been cases where we simply can’t find a home that offers a crib. In those cases, it still doesn’t hurt to ask. Especially for longer stays, many hosts are willing to borrow or purchase something to make your family comfortable.
Search the reviews
Once we’ve culled a list of a few homes we’re considering, we dig into the reviews. Airbnb reviews are searchable, so we’ll leverage keywords like “baby,” “family,” or “kids,” to get a sense of how other travelers fared. Unsurprisingly, these searches can reveal details that are wildly comforting (e.g. “the black-out shades in the bedrooms helped my baby sleep fully through the night!”) or that may make you think twice before booking (e.g. “There are delicate, glass sculptures all over the place, and all the furniture is white! I had to watch my kids like a hawk.”)
Searching like this helped us score the incredible cottage featured in this post’s cover image: this tiny house on the South Island of New Zealand featured a wood-burning outdoor bath that other families adored. We may never have discovered this amenity without good search hygiene!
Consider longer-term stays
Airbnb really shines for longer stays, both in comfort and cost. Most homes will offer a significant discount (we’ve scored as much as 80% off) if you book for 4 weeks or longer. Obviously, this often isn’t possible, but if you’re within range (3 weeks or more), it may be cheaper to book the 4 weeks and have some flexibility on your arrival and departure days.