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Selecting Travel Accommodation when Baby makes Five

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Getting to a destination is only part of the challenge when traveling with numerous kids. Selecting travel accommodation suitable for a large family, booking connecting rooms or a room with extra beds is not as easy as it sounds. Not to mention the cost.

Hotel, hostel, apartment, house swap, what's best? For the most part, it depends on your family's budget and routine. Esther and Alexandre Lucciola, a Swiss couple, have four kids aged one to six. They never stay in a hotel, they prefer to rent a house. Not only is it cheaper, it circumvents the constraints of a hotel, making noise, rigid meal times, and a refrigerator too small to accommodate a baby bottle, upright. They also find that renting a house eliminates a source of stress: hunting for a kid friendly restaurant. This summer the Lucciola family is renting a house by the beach in Sardinia, Italy.

"The house has to be on the beach, literally. This way, we can watch the kids playing in the sand even if we are doing something inside the house," Esther Lucciola says.

A home exchange can make a family vacation cheaper still. And according to an article in the New York Times, "swapping houses is a growing trend."

Budget permitting, hotels have an advantage over rental homes and apartments: they provide parents with a break from the daily routine. Carol and Amim Chaoui, who live in the United States and also have four children, tried both options last summer in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. The kids were 10, 7, 5 and 1 years old then. For the first half of the vacation they stayed at a nice hotel near the water. They booked a 2-bedroom suite because a Massachusetts law does not allow more than 4 people to a hotel room. Carol Chaoui recalls they all had a great time. The hotel had a swimming pool, and lots of space for the kids to roam.

Renting a house later that summer meant the end of her holidays:

"It was rough despite the extra room. I got stuck with 99.9% of the cleaning. It was not relaxing at all!"

Marianne Gini, a mother of four children from 6 to 10 years of age, advises families traveling with more than two children to book hotels months in advance. Adjoining rooms are rarely available at the last minute. Two rooms suffice. She puts the two youngest to sleep in her room. The older children sleep in a separate room. In some family travel destinations, Mexico, for example, she looks for hotel suites, which are often large enough to accommodate the entire family and cheaper than booking two rooms.

A throw back to you backpacking days, hostels are cheap and often ideal for short stays. However, not all hostels are suitable for families. As in the case of a hotel, rental or exchange home, do your research in advance.

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Cinque Terre is Italian for: