How to use Airbnb for a family vacation

I recently read a helpful guide to using Airbnb from the New York Times’ Frugal Traveler. Using the filters and paying attention to the cancellation policies are important to know about before trying short term rentals.

There 2 reasons we occasionally book hotels for family trips:  1) for a one or two night stay and 2) if we want a complete resort type experience or hotel service, such as a nice pool, housekeeping, or breakfast in the building.  However, the majority of the time we stay in short term rentals such as Airbnb or Vrbo while traveling.  Rentals can be intimidating at first, but the benefits outweigh the hassles of booking with a host.  Here’s why:

  1. Cost – short term rentals are almost cheaper than hotels if you want more than one room.  The money you save by having a kitchen offsets a trip cost by quite a bit as well.
  2. Location – apartments in neighborhoods are away from touristy parts of the city you’re visiting. Living like a local in cities is much more interesting.
  3. Meeting locals – almost every single host has had recommendations for us that we wouldn’t have known about.
  4. Privacy – I always contact the host in advance and check that the home is quiet and clean. I’ve found hosts to be very honest about whether or not the space is right for us by letting them know what matters most in advance.
  5. Discounts for long stays – we like to stay in one spot for 3-4 weeks at a time, and short term rentals give much better discounts than hotels.

The most important thing to remember is do not book a rental that hasn’t been reviewed, and read the comments carefully! There is a drawback to every single listing and you need to find it to make sure it doesn’t matter to your family.

Here are 3 some of my favorite short term rental stays. (I have some favorites in Berlin, but unfortunately they’re not available at this time because of changes in the laws.)

San Francisco

Turin, Italy



Climb Up Ropes Course

Well, there it is – an unexpected Berlin gem:  Climb Up on the north or south edge of the city.  We visited the Hennigsdorf location, which is accessible by S-Bahn from Berlin.  Total cost: 43 Euro for 2 children and 1 adult.  Check the height of your kids so they’re not disappointed. Also, you’ll have to call and make a reservation to be sure you’re not arriving at the same time as a school group.