Family Travel Tip #1

April 4, 2008

As you guys know, we travel a lot. Part of it is work-related for Adam, part of it is our love of travel, and part of it is that our children are still young enough that it is easy to pick up and go (well, not always easy but a little more flexible since they are in preschool). When we lived in Japan we traveled as much as possible and we started to do homestays during our trips. We loved doing the homestays because we got a very personal look at life in different Asian countries. We learned about daily life (like how kim chee is made in Korea), ate "real" food, met new friends, and got some great recommendations for local sites and restaurants. We would usually spend part of our trip in a homestay and part in a hotel...both were very different ways to experience a place.

Once we returned to the U.S. as a family of four, we quickly realized that we missed the space and the flavor of the homestay experience. After doing some on-line searching we started renting houses/apartments during our travels instead of hotels. We primarily use VRBO or HomeAway websites to find our accomodations. In the past year we have had some amazing experiences by doing this...a historic home home in old part of Savannah, waterfront cottage in Bainbridge Island, beach houses in Tybee Island and Hilton Head, a cute cottage in Portland, and now our current place in South Carolina.

We have found that we get some great deals at the last minute because the homeowners would rather have their homes filled than sitting often the cost of an entire house is the same cost as a hotel room in a non-descript hotel. We e-mail the owners directly to discuss price and get more details about places we are considering. We end up getting a fully stocked kitchen, bedrooms, yard, and best of all a real taste of local life. We try to meet the neighbors and get recommendations for local spots. We try to find a place within walking or biking distance to restaurants and shops. And I am happy to say we have only had positive experiences!

Our current house is especially wonderful because of the setting...on the edge of a marsh, but just a block from the main street of town, next door to a seafood restaurant where the shrimp boats unload every afternoon on the dock, the house feels like a tree house perched in the live oaks, and we have already become friends with the neighbors. I promise I am not getting any money from VRBO or Home Away sites, but seriously - I can not sing their praises loud enough. It is a great way for families to travel. Just thought I would share one of our survival methods for traveling with young children (and also since a couple of you had questions about the house).
Melissa said...

I'm not sure where in SC you are, but there is great children's museum in downtown Charleston that you should check out if you have time. I think its on Ann Street which is near the market. There are some pics of it on my blog here

Corinne said...

So, it is interesting that you brought this up. A girl I met through the blogosphere is from the Netherlands and that's how they always travel. She raved about it too. I've looked into it, but I'm always scared about the havoc that my children create everywhere we go :)

Melissa said...

We are about 1.5 hours from Charleston, and we haven't ever been to the Aquarium. I've heard both good and bad things about it. I hope we'll find time to go this summer. Have you been to Hunting Island State Park yet? We went there several years ago, and it was very nice. There is a nice, little lighthouse that you can climb. Hope you have a great vacation!

Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish said...

Corinne, We only rent places that are labeled "kid or family friendly" place we stayed in was so family friendly they had kids utensils, baby gates, pack and play,etc....I would say it is worth a try!
Melissa, thanks for the great suggestions.We are really enjoying our time here.

Heather said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this tip! We are looking forward to traveling a lot as a family once the clinic is up and running, and I never even knew this was an option. I was curious about how you got the cottage in Portland, too. Now I know. :) Can I just say how happy I am to have "met" you? And I'm still looking forward to meeting you in person someday... :)

Jennifer said...

I work for HomeAway and wanted to say thanks for recommending HomeAway and VRBO in your post regarding your most recent and previous vacations. As someone who prefers to stay in vacation rentals, I wanted to let you know about the “Why I Deserve a Getaway from HomeAway” contest in which you could win a $5,000 vacation—on us! Check out for more information.

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