Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Affordable Family Travel

We have four children. We travel often. We are not wealthy people. These three factors may seem to be incongruent but in fact we are able to pull off traveling around Europe, with all six of us, quite affordably.
Here’s how: First, we live in very central Switzerland, so we can drive to virtually any European destination in a matter of hours, or worst case, days (okay, this may not apply to you, but stay with me here.) Secondly, and most importantly, we always stay in apartments rather than hotels (unless I am lucky enough to get away with just my husband, then we splurge on a fancy hotel—and appreciate every pampered minute of it.)
The main way that I find apartments for rent is on http://www.blogger.com/www.vrbo.com (this stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner). This is not a ‘house swap’ site, rather a site for people who own a vacation property and want to rent it out. It is infinitely more affordable than staying in a hotel—you get an entire apartment for sometimes ¼ of what one moderately priced hotel room costs. The other advantage, especially if you are traveling with young and/or noisy children, is that you will have your own kitchen. Speaking from far too much experience, I can tell you that eating in a restaurant with a toddler (or two) who does not appreciate the pleasures of restaurant dining is about as stressful as parenting gets. Having the option of eating at 'home' relieves that pressure~ and restaurant goers everywhere will bless your absence. Eating breakfast in your apartment is a no-brainer, but returning for lunch and taking a siesta, after a busy sight-seeing morning can also be a relief. I always look forward to getting out to local open-air markets in the morning and finding a treasure trove of fresh ingredients to cook with for dinner—eating as the locals do!
On VRBO, I simply choose my destination then peruse what properties are available there. I browse through pictures and descriptions, check out the rates, find the perfect place and e-mail the owner. There are many other sites for renting a holiday property from the owner, but for me, VRBO is the easiest site with the largest selection.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Jen,

Love it! I have added this to my favorites list.

Hugs & Kisses,

Judy

Kiley V. said...

I work for VRBO.com, one of the HomeAway, Inc. vacation rental web sites, and wanted to say thanks for recommending VRBO.com in your post regarding Affordable Family Travel. As someone who endorses vacation rentals, you might like to know about the “Why I Deserve a Getaway from HomeAway” contest in which you could win a $5,000 vacation—on us! Check out http://blog.homeaway.com for more information, or please send any questions or comments to blog@homeaway.com.