In my traveling prime, my husband and I would typically travel several times a year. I called it our hobby and that hobby took us to places like Italy, South America, and Mexico. Our running hobby took us to start lines in Miami, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and New York City. Our travel bucket list currently includes places like Iceland, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris, and London. We love to discover new places. We love to explore. We love to travel.
In early 2015, our hobby had to take a backseat to our newborn son. The money we would normally spend on flights, food, and souvenirs was being used for things like diapers and baby food. I am not complaining (expect for the price of diapers these days); I honestly wouldn’t change a thing. And our son is now getting to the age that we can resume traveling once again. However, a recent road trip taught us that traveling now is a lot harder. We now have an extra suitcase, a diaper bag, a stroller, and a car seat (required no matter where you travel) to pack. There’s also juice boxes, toys, and formula to pack. We also have to carefully consider accommodations now that we are a family of 3 versus a family of just 2. We have to strategically plan outings around bath time, nap time, dinner time, and bedtime.
We’ve stayed at hotels with our son and as a parent, I can honestly say the experience is always stressful. When we stay at hotels, we are always concerned about overnight meltdowns that could wake our neighbors. And sleep? We don’t sleep. Our kid knows we are in the same room so he would rather play with us then sleep. Keeping baby food and formula cool and edible is always a challenge, especially if the room doesn’t have a refrigerator.
Thus the argument for using a vacation home exchange. Now granted, not every home exchange property allows children, and that’s okay. Luckily, most home exchanges that allow kiddos. Here are some reasons why as a mom, I would argue that any family with small children should consider using a home exchange:
Separate rooms. Everyone sleeps better when our kid sleeps in a different room. Even the kid sleeps better and will usually sleep through the night. All we have to do is bring something for him to sleep in (i.e. the Pack and Play) during our vacation. There are even some home exchanges that have cribs available for use. Also, I should mention to parents that there are places that will allow you to rent things like cribs, rocking chairs and high chairs during your vacation. They may even deliver those items to your vacation home exchange. That means less stuff you will have to bring on a plane.
Kitchen amenities. Parents will agree with me on this one – bringing babies and toddlers to restaurants can be disastrous. Our kid does not sit still for very long so it is more convenient to cook meals at a home exchange versus going out to eat and risking a tantrum before the main course is served. Having your own kitchen also can help you save some money on your food budget. You can also store formula, juice, and leftovers in the refrigerator.
Room for family. Many IVHE home exchanges feature multiple bedrooms. This means we can bring friends, family, and even the nanny. I like to think of them as the so-called village to child-rearing. And the bigger the village, the better.
More storage. Depending on where we are staying, we may have more breathing room. Anyone with kids will tell you that they require a lot of stuff (see paragraph 2). In a home exchange, we would be able to stay organize with additional storage space.
Kill time during naps. Aside from reading, there isn’t much you can do while waiting out a nap in a hotel room. I guess you could also nap. But at a home exchange, there may be some fun things you can do while the little one snoozes. The property may have a pool or a deck overlooking the ocean. Regardless, it beats sitting quietly in a hotel room staring at a wall for an hour or two.
Now if you are traveling with older kids, cost becomes a factor. Normally, you would have to pay for an additional hotel room. Not the case if you stay at a home exchange. Plus, there may be some amenities that will keep your kids entertained. If you have questions about the home exchange property and policies regarding kids, you can talk to an IVHE coordinator.