***I’m out of town and have limited access to my computer, but I wanted to make sure I still had some posts in the A-Z challenge. I’m keeping these simple until I come back. I’m going to expand on these later, but I’d love your thoughts and opinions in the meantime. Thanks for stopping by, and if you’re also participating in the challenge let me know and I’ll be around to check our your blog in less than a week.***
After the worry of flying deters a lot of families from traveling, the next “problem” are the expenses associated with accommodation.
I’m a huge fan of hotels, but for the times when a hotel doesn’t make sense, here are some alternatives. (The companies listed below are ones I have personal experience with, but none of these are affiliate links. I just like them.)
What I love about hostels is that many are centrally located. And family friendly hostels, tend to have more families staying there. Extra bonus.
There are many ways to search for a hostel. I recommend using HI (Hosteling International). Search for your city and nights and the hostel description will tell you if it’s suitable for families. Please note that HI hostels in some countries require a membership, while others are available to anyone. Membership does give you a discount, though, so consider if it’s worth it for your travel style.
Just like hostels, these can be centrally located. It depends on you. Here you have a little more room to spread out, cook your own meals, and feel like a temporary local.
Also like hostels, there are many ways to search for apartments. Many apartment owners offer their places through multiple services. Try the interface with different companies to see which you prefer. We have used Air BnB (I love their app) and Flip Key with success.
TIP: Read the fine print to see if it’s family friendly.
I prefer an apartment that’s sole purpose is to be rented by other people. I don’t want to stay at someone’s home that they rent out randomly and have to deal with their food in the fridge and toiletries in the bathrooms. This is all personal, obviously, so do what you need to do.
My unscientific way of determining if an apartment is one and not the other:
- If the artwork on the wall is large photos of the city you are visiting, or artwork by famous artists of said city, it’s more likely not someone’s permanent home.
- If the photos on the wall are of family members, the bathroom is filled with shampoo bottles and hairbrushes, and there’s mail on the kitchen table, it’s likely to be a private dwelling sometimes used as a rental.
Unlike the above, I’m not sure to what extent these exist outside of Europe.
Holiday parks in Europe are closer to small towns and villages instead of big cities. The word “holiday” is used in more the British sense meaning “vacation” instead of the US sense meaning “thanksgiving”. They are a place to connect with your family instead of site-see (though there are usually many tourist-worthy sites in the vicinity). There are activities at the parks like mini-golf, swimming, bowling, and hiking. The accommodations are private ranging from apartment-style, private chalet, treehouses, houseboats, and everything in between.
There is usually a minimum 3-night stay. What I love about these is the affordability. For example, we stayed at one with a private chalet, kitchen, and two bedrooms in Belgium for 99 EUR for 3 nights. However, depending on the season and location they can be as expensive as 2-300 EUR a night.
What you have to remember is that necessary (bedding) and unnecessary (birthday decorations) extras are not included in that price. It can get expensive if you have a happy “select” finger.
I recommend Landal GreenParks (located in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, and Hungary. I’ve also heard great things about CenterParcs.
These are just three of my favorite alternatives to hotels.
If you get a chance, please visit Reflection En Route today. She’s another A-to-Z Challenge participant who happens to be an American expat in Germany.