College Advice Blog

Mar 8, 2015

Alternative and Affordable Lodging Options for Family Travel

No matter how you look at it, family travel is generally a fairly expensive prospect. This is probably why so many families on a budget have to plan their trips well in advance in order to save up the money needed for transportation, food, and lodgings. And while there are definitely ways to cut back on travel expenses, by driving instead of flying, for example, or waiting for low airfare sales, it can be a bit more difficult to find suitable hotels at less cost. It's not like you're going to shack up in a youth hostel with your family so that you can get a few bunks at $20 a pop. Honestly, with a couple of kids in tow, you might as well spring for a budget motel room since it will cost the same amount and offer you more privacy. But even then, you'll have to deal with crappy rooms that cater to, shall we say, a lower caliber of guests in some cases. And with the bedbug epidemic in full swing, motels might not be your first choice anyway. So what can you do to save some money on lodgings when you head out for a family trip? Here are just a few options to consider.

One thing you might want to look for is a reputable Bed and Breakfast. These dwellings are often located in residential areas, making them kid-friendly, they offer you breakfast as part of the price of your stay, and they often cost less than area hotels. They may even be close to areas that you want to visit like city centers or tourist attractions. However, you might also consider a modern twist on this concept by looking at the options on Airbnb, a website that allows people to post their properties for short-term rental (by the day or week, generally). You might find a fully furnished and outfitted apartment or vacation home that the owners are trying to earn some extra money on without having to take on long-term renters. This could net you a truly spectacular property in a desirable area during your trip at a price that is far less than the hotels you were looking at.

But if you're not very comfortable with this online arrangement between private parties (you do have the safety of your family to think about, after all), think about talking to a travel agent about similar accommodations. House and apartment rentals may also be done through agencies, which means that you have more options for reparations should the deal somehow go south. You might also use an agency to do a home exchange, by which you will trade houses with someone who is traveling to your area at the same time you're visiting their home town. The beauty is that you'll each get your lodgings for free, although the downside is someone else living in your home.

You might also split the cost of accommodations with other family members or friends if you travel as part of a group. Or if you like the great outdoors and the weather permits you may want to invest in some camping gear or even an RV that you can get years of use out of. You'll end up paying a pretty penny for most of your travel, including airline tickets and airport parking at CVG, JFK, or LAX. But you can definitely find ways to cut back on expenses related to lodgings by simply looking into the many affordable alternatives to the average hotel stay.

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