Tuesday, July 12, 2011

home away from home

Chris was on a film shoot in Paris about two years ago. While there, he was staying in an apartment with his co-writer, producer and members of the cast. He came home raving about "apartment living" while abroad. So we knew that next time we were in Europe we would want to do the same. Who knew that, the "next time" would be with a toddler?

The benefits of renting an apartment, even if just for a couple of days, are ten-fold. For starters it is probably the most financially wise decision. We were traveling with my in-laws, so the cost of two hotel rooms far exceeded the cost of a two-bedroom apartment. We also saved money, given that we ate at least one if not two meals "at home." Each morning, we fixed tea or coffee, broke out a loaf of bread and some preserves, maybe scrambled some eggs. And each night, we did the same. Had we not had a kitchen handy, eating out would have likely been the norm.

"Apartment living" also came in handy when dealing with a wriggly tot. The turtle is on the move, and having the extra floor space was wonderful. We also were able to lay him down for naps (when we were home) and certainly for the night, without having to shut down all other activities. 

A couple of things to note when renting a short-stay apartment:
  1. Find a reputable company, with good reviews. 
  2. Be prepared with money up front. In Paris, we had to come up with a significant cash deposit. Though we got it back at the end of the trip, we needed to include the entire amount in our budget from the beginning. 
  3. Take pictures when you arrive. Do a quick check of the place, and note any dings, scratches, stains that existed prior to your moving in.
  4. If you're traveling with kids, immediately put away anything within arms reach. All of the knick knacks went into a closet until the day we checked out. 
  5. Look into extras like pack and plays and highchairs. Both were included at our Paris apartment. 
  6. If possible, find a place with a washer and clothes line. We were able to pack a third of what we would normally need because we could launder our clothes.
  7. If it's optional, pay the extra for cleaning service.
While walking to dinner one night, our Parisian friends mentioned that they were looking at apartment swaps. They travel quite a bit, and can see the benefits of such an arrangement. I imagine, given that we live in NYC, that would be an option for us as well. Though I'm not certain I would feel good about inviting strangers into my home. But it's something to think about.

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