As a family who loves to travel, we have experience with a range of different family accommodation options. By far our favourite type of holiday accommodation is self-catering. Family travel is fun, but it’s also expensive, and at the end of the day, you want to be on holiday, be relaxed, and be comfortable. In this post, I’ll explore 7 reasons why you should book self-catering accommodation for your next family holiday, especially if you have more than 2 kids!
But first, let’s talk about the dynamics of a family of 5 on holiday
We are a family of 5: two adults, a teen (17) and two older children (10 and 8). It used to be that the average number of children per family was 2.4, but recent statistics have noted a decrease in this number of children per household, with it actually being closer to 1.7 children per household. Now I’m not going to get into why that is, as it’s not our reality.
But what it does mean is that hotels and other travel accommodation options usually offer a comfortable base for 2 adults and 2 kids. Even travel deals are based on 2 adults and 2 kids. But not for us.
We are basically 3 adults and 2 bigger kids, so even with the ‘extra cot in the room’ option, it’s just not going to happen. This makes a huge difference not just in terms of cost but also in everything: from the car we hire on holiday to the flight seating arrangements; from the dinner reservation to the attraction deals. 5 is not 4, and with the youngest being 8 years old now, you can’t really get away with telling her to hunch over to get the under 6 freebies either. *It had to happen sometime, right?*.
What is Self-Catering Accommodation
Usually, self-catering accommodation means that there is no food provided for the duration of your stay. However, I would like to stress that you should always double-check this!!! Typically this will mean that you’re booking a flat, apartment, house or even a villa, but whatever it is, it’s likely to have a kitchen.
Self-catering accommodation is about booking the entire unit for yourself and not sharing facilities with other holidaymakers. This might be a private rental, or it could be a managed facility. However, typically you will be left to your own devices, and the accommodation won’t be serviced at all for the duration of your stay.
So when you factor in all the requirements for a family of 5, self-catering accommodation comes out on top, and here are a few reasons why you should book self-catering accommodation for your next family holiday.
Why Book self-catering accommodation for a family holiday:
Here are my personal reasons why I think it’s best to book self-catering accommodation for your next family holiday, especially for those families with more than 1.7 children, who value a little more home-from-home when on holiday with the kids!
1. It’s cheaper than hotel stays which typically can only accommodate 4 in a family room/suite.
As I mentioned above, most family rooms are designed for 2 adults and 2 children. An extra person requires an extra room if you’re staying for more than a couple of days and so it starts to become more expensive. Most self-catering accommodation options are equipped for up to 6 people and will provide more space for you to spread out.
Even if you are a family of 3, or 4, booking self-catering accommodation can often work out cheaper than staying in a hotel.
2. We select accommodation that has a kitchen offering flexibility with meal times, and cuts down on eating out.
Booking self-catering accommodation usually means you will have access to a kitchen so you can cut down on all that eating out when on holiday. If you’ve booked an all-inclusive, then that’s great. But if not, eating out every day becomes expensive and wasteful as kids soon tire of restaurant food. Sometimes after a long day at the beach or exploring a city, you want to chill at ‘home’ and feed them some chicken nuggets or scrambled egg on toast.
It’s also great for that early morning snacking before breakfast, which for us is usually a little later in the morning. Kids have no chill, even on holiday and will still wake up at the
arse crack of dawn to eat! Get that kitchen stacked with milk, cereal and bread, and you can have that lie-in you wanted.
3. They usually have a washing machine, which means less luggage and the option to wash beach towels etc.
This is an absolute god-send when on holiday, to have access to a washing machine! If you’re away for a week or more, that’s a lot of luggage to pack! I know a lot of us moan about not wanting to do laundry on holiday (me included), but the reality is that having a washing machine right there means you can wash those stinky beach towels; you can wash those smelly socks! It means you can pack fewer clothes in the first place, and you can even take home clean clothes, which means less laundry when you get home. #winning!
4. Privacy. We can have a more private, home from home situation which.
This is a big one for us. We value our privacy!
One of the best things about booking self-catering accommodation when on holiday is the privacy it offers. Usually, you will book a flat, an apartment, or even a house, and you’ll have the whole place to yourself (your family), affording you the privacy that you won’t get in a large hotel environment.
5. Location – we can usually find accommodation in a location that offers what we want out of our holiday, be it privacy or being in the midst of the action.
Location is important on holiday, but everyone has their own wants and needs when it comes to where you stay on holiday. Self–catering holiday accommodation offers you the flexibility to choose where you stay based on your own criteria. If you want to stay in the middle of all the action, you can. If you want to stay further out where it’s quieter, you can. Obviously, there will always be compromises that need to be made when it comes to this. Still, typically you can find what you’re looking for using a range of different travel accommodation providers, be it the likes of booking.com, Travel Supermarket or good old Airbnb!
6. Transport option – if we drive, we need secure parking for our car/hire car. If we don’t drive we need it to be close to public transport links, without having to rely on hotel shuttles or taxis etc.
We love a good road trip here in the UK or road tripping around Europe (2019 pre-Covid). For many families, hiring a car on holiday makes sense, that is, until you need to park it up. Not all accommodation types or hotels offer parking facilities for their guests based on many factors. However, if you do have a car, you need parking.
Most self-catering family accommodations offer free parking, so you know you don’t have to worry about this. Just remember to select it on your accommodation search filters and double-check in advance direct with the accommodation so that you don’t have any surprises when you pull up there in your mini-van only to realise you have to park on the road, a mile away from where you’re staying – this
never happened to us btw!
7. Covid Safe – less people!
Self-catering accommodation for families is a good option if you’re looking to keep your distance from other people to keep you safe from Coronavirus and other viruses. Obviously, it does not remove the risk entirely, and there have been some fantastic advances in hygiene and cleanliness in hotels etc., since the pandemic.
However, for peace of mind, self-catering accommodation removes the need to mingle and other people in situations such as hotel buffet dining, public toilets, etc. Obviously, if you’re out and about, you will be in these sorts of public situations anyway. Still, when you’re in your private, self-catering accommodation, you know it’s just you and your family in the living area.
The PitFalls of Booking Self-Catering Accommodation For Your Family Holiday
I’m not going to pretend that booking self-catering accommodation for your family is foolproof. We as a family have had both good and bad experiences with self-catering accommodation. Everything from a ‘luxury log cabin’ in Scotland, turning out to be an old porta-cabin with a 3-inch gap in the door in winter, to a dark and dingy flat in a questionable block of flats in a less than desirable area in Innsbruck, Austria where we were quite sure we’d wake up to the wheels missing off our car.
I have a whole post written about tips on booking family accommodation with Airbnb, which you must take a look at if you’re using this option; however, my number one tip before you book your self-catering accommodation, or any accommodation really, is to check the reviews thoroughly. Check the reviews on the booking site you’re using, and then check again on websites such as Trip Advisor. And don’t just rely on the first 5 at the top of the page; please scroll down, look back.
Alternatively, google the name of it. If you’re at all in doubt, or a bit worried, reach out to the host themself and you’ll be able to tell a lot by their response to you. Remember always to be polite and respectful, and manage your own expectations based on your budget.
I hope you found this post useful. It’s based on my own personal experiences and is not a sponsored post, even though it does contain some affiliate links, which means that if you click through and purchase, I will get a small commission.