We love a good hotel as much as the next traveler, but when traveling with kids, home rentals can sometimes provide more space and flexibility at a more budget-friendly price. As we shared in a recent post about booking an Airbnb with kids over on Mommy Nearest, it's a good idea to adjust your priorities when searching for a place once you become a parent—and you might want to pack a bit differently, too.
Some family-focused rentals provide everything families need, while some provide nothing at all. But whatever the setup, there are a few extra items you may want to bring along for your family's safety, comfort, and convenience.
1. A sponge. Having a kitchen is one of the greatest perks of renting an apartment over a hotel, but don't assume your space will come equipped with a sponge for washing the dishes. And if there is a sponge, don't assume it's clean. Forget worrying about whether the previous guest used the sponge to scrub the toilet, and just pack your own. We're big fans of these pop-up sponges from Trader Joe's.
2. A white noise machine. Many families use white noise machines to help their newborns sleep. Turns out, they can be a lifesaver when staying at an unexpectedly noisy spot. When the upstairs neighbors throw a party after bedtime or the bar next door has a live band playing until the wee hours, your little one can be soothed to sleep by the calming sounds of crashing waves or falling rain.
3. A travel lock. This is definitely one of those things we never worried about before becoming parents. But the fact is, besides your host, many people have had a key to your temporary home before you arrived—and they could have made a copy. Robberies have occurred at short-term rentals for this very reason. That's why we now pack a travel lock to give us a bit of peace of mind when staying in a rental home. This travel door lock won't take up much room in your luggage.
4. A travel candle and matches. Occasionally, you'll check into an Airbnb that just... smells. Whether it's leftover aromas from the previous guest's dinner or evidence of a canine visitor, you want to get rid of the smells fast. That's when a pleasantly scented travel candle and a pack of matches comes in very handy. Oh, and they're pretty useful for covering up your own kids' diaper (and who knows what else) smells before you turn in your keys.
5. A carbon monoxide detector. Earlier this year, a family of four tragically died of carbon monoxide poisoning in their Tulum vacation rental. The gas is odorless and can come from common household appliances like gas stoves, water heaters, and space heaters. While your host should have a working CO detector in place—and it's something you should certainly check for, along with a smoke detector—there's a chance it may not be working properly. Bring your own to ensure your safety. Opt for a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector so you don't have to worry about plug adaptors.
6. An escape plan. Sure, a fire escape plan is important whether you're staying in a hotel or a vacation rental. But, when staying in a rental, be sure to have a back-up plan in case things go awry. Understand your host's cancellation policy, and keep in mind a nearby hotel or back-up Airbnb if you need to leave (like the time our London Airbnb had plumbing issues that the host refused to fix). If things go south, you won't have to scramble quite so hard to find a better place for your family to stay.