Everyone’s approach to finding accommodations varies and you will naturally find the method that works for your style of travel. Here are some tips that work for our family:
Pre-book your first night’s stay
Air travel days are usually long and tiring for us. Sometimes we need extra time to acclimatize to higher altitudes or deal with jet lag. So, when we travel by air with our children we always pre-book our first night (or two) of accommodations.
Beyond the first few nights, we tend to wing it. We like the flexibility of staying in one place if it suits us and moving on when it doesn’t. It’s impossible to know how we’ll feel about a place until we’re actually there (and often we have 5 different opinions about a town.)
Renting hotels and homes
When you travel around a country for long periods of time, and you don’t speak the language, pre-booking hotel rooms can get tricky. So, we find it easiest to start looking for a place to stay once we arrive in a town. This allows us the opportunity to negotiate prices and check out the rooms before confirming a reservation.
Often we’ll use a guidebook, the internet, or recommendations from fellow travelers to give us a starting point and help us navigate new towns.
Hotel rooms for our family of five can be costly. Many hotels only allow four people in a standard room and the family suites can be expensive. However, we do use them and find them via TripAdvisor or by referencing guidebooks, like Lonely Planet or Rough Guides.
Renting a vacation home is often a better alternative for us. We use sites like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway to locate a home. However, it takes a bit of time to secure these rentals, as response times from owners can vary. We have arranged a few last minutes reservations, but on a whole, you will need to start contacting people a few weeks before your arrival.
I appreciate the sense of freedom I feel when we travel without strict timelines, agendas or confirmed hotel reservations. There is sweet simplicity in only having to think about finding food, shelter, fun and occasional laundry services. Most other worries just tend to melt away.
The sources above help us find accommodations on the fly. If you have any useful resources, let us all know – the more tips the better!