on the road: tips for staying in vacation houses

Earlier this month, for our fourth wedding anniversary (let’s not talk about how ridiculously fast that has gone), we filled the car to the brim and took to the road for a four-hour drive to enjoy a weekend in Lake Tahoe. It was beautiful. Cold mind you but so much beauty everywhere from the glistening lake at Emerald Bay to the gorgeous tree covered mountains.

Lake Tahoe

We’ve travelled quite a lot since having Emily and have come to the conclusion that when vacationing with a toddler, size matters. By which I mean the size of the accommodation. After a cramped experience sharing one room when she was 3 months old where we could barely fit her portable crib next to our bed and watching TV after she’d fallen asleep was fraught with danger (why does the volume always go up in commercial breaks?) we resolved to only ever stay in places with a separate space for her to sleep in. Which counts out hotels for us as we really didn’t want to stick her in a closet or a bathroom and a suite is a little beyond our budget.

So we have turned to vacation houses to find homes away from home. I love to use airbnb as I can read reviews of the properties and search for the place that suits us. The payment all gets processed via the site and you can communicate with the hosts in advance with any questions. We haven’t had anything but great experiences so far! By the way, all this gushing makes this sound like a sponsored post but I promise it isn’t, I’m just a fan.

Here are a few of our tips for staying in a vacation home with a little one.

1) Check for hazards. Where are the cleaning supplies? If they’re under the sink, move them somewhere inaccessible. Are there stairs? Consider taking a stair gate if you have space (that’s what we did for our last trip) or maybe you can barricade them safely. Check for any other hazards – when Emily was just starting to walk she fell and hit her chin on a low coffee table while we were in Hawaii. So even now I move those out of the way if I can.

Of course, the safest way to baby or toddler proof is to not leave your little one unattended but those little monkeys can move fast when there’s trouble to be found.

2) Pack some essentials. Bad news: unlike when you stay in a hotel you have to do your own dishes in a vacation home. So pack some dishwasher tablets, dishwashing liquid, sponges and laundry detergent. You may well find that they’re provided but I prefer to go prepared. Olive oil and your favourite spices aren’t a bad idea either if you like to cook.

3) Ask if the host has a crib/cot or a highchair. If they have their own kids, they may have these essentials handy. Otherwise you’ll need to pack a travel crib and highchair. You’re seeing why our car was so full now aren’t you?

4) Take some toys. If you love to explore you’ll hopefully be out and about for most of your trip but for the quiet times, take a few toys. Megablocks are essential for us. Other good toys are cars, stacking cups and of course books books books.

5) Remember it’s someone else’s home. Put things back how you found them, follow any instructions in the welcome pack and be respectful of your host’s belongings. But relax too – the hosts want you to have a great stay.

Have you ever stayed in a rented house while on holiday? What are your top tips?

Our airbnb cabin in Tahoe IMG_0656E dited to add another photo or two!

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