January 26th was (among other days) National Plan a Vacation Day. While it might seem somewhat defeatist and depressing during these weird times, vaccine distribution is beginning and more hope than ever is on the horizon. Planning a getaway (with or without kids!) seems like something more plausible than six months ago. Knowing we could ALL use a break, I thought it would be fun to make my editor’s picks this month all about the accommodation sites I love to use, not only to plan but also to inspire our future travels. These are sites that have kept my spirits up in the past year while our reality has been firmly grounded in mask-wearing, social distancing, and many (many) Zooms and FaceTimes. Let your imaginations take you to your dream accommodation and who knows? It might be closer than you think! Here are my favorite family accommodation sites!
This is one of my absolutely all-time favorite family accommodation sites and I’ll freely admit that some of my travel plans are solely determined by a dream house or apartment that I have found on there. They have landed us comfortable, kid-friendly bases to explore from in Amsterdam, Vienna, and Vermont and we have been very happy each time. Founded in 2013 by Zoie Kingsbery Coe, it stands out as one of the premium search engines for traveling families whether you are looking domestically or internationally. Zoie found that while traveling with her husband pre-kids was a breeze, it was harder to find suitable accommodations that weren’t hotels with their growing family. Out of that commercial gap Kid &Coe was born and now has over 1400 properties in 50 countries. Whether you’re looking for a European City break, a country-style long weekend in upstate New York, or the perfect base for exploring the chaos and complexity of Morocco, Kid & Coe is a great place to start looking. I love arriving somewhere and having a kid-themed room with fun toys to play with that has our daughter forgetting about leaving (many) or her other toys behind at home. Feeling a little lost? Try the Collections tab, which has plenty of themed sections (great for babies, coastal retreats, Christmas, great for kindergarteners, etc.). Oh, and definitely sign up for their mailing list – you’ll be one of the first to know about the great promotions they have throughout the year!
Plum Guide is a carefully curated accommodation site that aims to discover the ‘Science behind the perfect stay’. However, don’t let the pretty pictures fool you into thinking kids are not included. Unlike Airbnb (who removed their family-friendly filter in the past year), their search parameters provide an option to not only share your traveling with all ages of kids. Aside from that, they note all the teeniest details, right down to how many steps there are to the entrance (because lugging strollers is not your first choice of activity after arriving!). Beyond all the global listings they have, Plum also has a Journal section that is regularly updated with city and neighborhood guides from destinations across the world, and tips and resources to help you plan and get ideas on where to go and what to do when you arrive. In keeping with our grounded lives this past year, they have some articles about ways you can ‘travel’ from home or recreate your favorite travel experience. While I would say this is more for families with older kids, Plum is a great site to feel inspired to get out there again!
This is definitely one of the best family accommodation sites devoted to design and architecture and you will find a very carefully curated collection of properties. One of the unique features of their website is their user-friendly global map option, which plays nicely with speed and destination allowing viewers to quickly see their area of choice without needing to type in a single word. It sort of makes you feel like you’re traveling while looking! Founded by the husband and wife team (and designers in their own right), Veronique Lievre and Heinz Legler, Boutique Homes showcases houses, apartments, cabins, and small hotels that meet their strict hospitality criteria to ensure all their guests have an amazing experience! Their blog (or Journal) features not only spotlights on their listings but also interviews with hosts and creatives, discussing their own love of travel and how it influences their lives. Other writers also share their insider tips and experiences of their own favorite journeys to get you excited about planning a family trip . . . or possibly just the adults.
This is always a go-to site when arriving somewhere on a red-eye flight. Especially if you have kids, it’s nice to be able to find a place that feels familiar and you know exactly what to expect after a long flight. Booking.com started out as just a place for hotels, but now their lists include everything from apartment stays to cozy beds and breakfasts. It’s easy to narrow down your search using their, ‘Family Rooms’ or ‘Family Friendly Properties’ filter and while this might not include a room full of toys, it does mean you’ll be welcomed as a family and be able to access facilities and amenities that might not be available at other properties. One of the best things about this site is that they have an incredible global reach and are able to find available properties in even the smallest European cities or most remote beach towns which means you will more than likely find something that works for you and your family regardless of where your travels take you.
If you missed out on one (or many) milestone moments while we’ve been under somewhat of a lock and key, then this site will definitely inspire you to seek out a special location to celebrate it all with family or friends. Divided into City Breaks and Villa Collections, OFS has some of the most beautiful locations and accommodations across the world as well as providing a personalized service that extends well beyond the click of the ‘book now’ button. This includes being able to find qualified, professional childcare as well as arranging rental and delivery of kids’ toys and equipment (high chairs, etc). So, while they do include a ‘Children’s Toys’ option in their filter parameters, your search is still wide open with the many beautiful properties available on their site that you can tailor to help you have the best experience possible.
Regardless of how you find your ideal place to stay, much of the excitement and joy takes place in the planning and the details. It’s never too early to start making bookmarks, creating itineraries, and clicking through the spaces where you will create your next adventure to remember.
Have you used any of these family accommodation sites before? Let us know in the comments below!
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Liz – Thanks for sharing your accommodation secrets! There were several sites I didn’t know about, but I’m now going to use them!… And list my Pyrennées vacation home on! 😉
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