We’re now in Edinburgh where I’m carving a bit of time to collect my thoughts and write-up two final posts summarizing my experience at our HomeAway-listed apartment in London. Will definitely share more details about the property itself and its managers, but wanted to dole out these tips for fellow travelers dragging babies along before I forget.
Overall, I loved my rental apartment experience. When baby got too excited and stressed from traveling through the London tube – not baby-friendly I might add – we were able to stay in, relax, and do loads of laundry. On other nights, we had various family and friends stop by and we ordered food in.
So if you’re considering renting a vacation apartment as an alternative to hotels when traveling, here are questions and items you need to look into beyond pretty looking digs and base amenities.
This was something I never really gave a second thought to until I started traveling around with an infant car seat and stroller. Many rentals are in old buildings with multiple flights of stairs and no elevators/lifts. After the first few ascents and descents, it gets quite tiring before you even hit town. Sure, you can just have a baby carrier like a Baby Björn or Moby wrap to carry your baby around, but in a densely populated city like London where everyone squeezes shoulder to shoulder on the tube, the danger of someone accidentally crushing your baby is high.
If your rental is along a main or high street, there will be noise of some sort unless the building has Fort Knox-style walls. If your baby is sensitive to loud noises, definitely keep this in the back of your mind. Gratefully mine isn’t too sensitive to noise though she gives me the arched eyebrow “What the heck was that?” frozen look whenever a police car, ambulance, or fire truck whizzes by.
Unless you want your baby crawling around in only diapers all trip long, you might appreciate the presence of a fan or air conditioner. Many older buildings (easily 90% of Europe) don’t have good ventilation systems and sometimes your only alternative is to crack open a window. Cool during the day if you’re home. Not cool at night when someone could crawl into bed with you.
Oh yeh. The bane of our existence as parents of an infant. They pile up and do so quickly. You definitely want to know where you can throw diapers away where cats and racoons won’t unwrap them like Christmas presents.
By the end of our stay at our beautifully-decorated rental with its light-colored furnishings, we’d already developed cat-like reflexes. I was catching baby spit-ups midair action-hero style before they hit anything, and my husband was drinking his black coffee sitting on the edge of the off-white sofa. On the flip side, it’s extremely smart for rental property owners to use light colors so guests can respect their property as well. So, in addition to the pretty, always think practical for baby as well.
There’s a faux feeling of living like a local when you’re walking back home to your rental with bags of groceries. I loved it. We were staying close to Clapham South with walking access to three grocery stores including a Tesco which seemed like our second rental home based on the frequency with which we hit it. Every other building next to ours had some sort of ethnic restaurant so we definitely gorged on good Chinese, Pakistani, and Middle Eastern cuisine. More importantly, easy access to essential items you need for your baby (aka, diapers) is key. So in addition to looking at a nice centrally located apartment, look for key amenities nearby.
Never underestimate the thoughtfulness impact of a little welcome pack with basic essentials for the travelers’ first night as they orient themselves. Coffee, tea, sugar, milk, spices, washing soaps, maybe some biscuits. Some of the properties listed on HomeAway definitely do provide this. Our rental apartment had washing and bathing soaps already there, and I did find one small bottle of black pepper probably left by a previous tenant.