When you’re planning a trip with your family, how do you decide on where to stay? Is it all about price and convenience? Or are there other things you look for?

We posed these questions to some of our favorite family travel bloggers, and here’s what they had to say:

Traveling with kids changes hotel stays for us completely. Since kids travel is more of the slow-relax-enjoy mode, we have discovered that staying at unique, not necessarily expensive, hotels is a huge perk. My one recommendation, stay away from all inclusives. Why visit a new country or location, only to be bound to your hotel while missing out on the whole travel experience. We’ve stayed at hotels that were in the middle of jungles with treehouses, chilled out at eco lodges with trails and butterfly gardens, enjoyed a working 100 year old hacienda, and so many more. Just remember, you will be spending a lot of time at your hotel (like it or not), make sure it’s a ‘destination within a destination’!

– Marina Kuperman Villatoro, travelexperta.com

After traveling with a toddler to Brazil and Asia, I learned that the best place to stay with children is a house.  We now look for homes we can rent for a few nights; they are more expensive than a hotel room but totally worth it.  The larger space allows us to play games or cook while the baby sleeps.  The kitchen is a must for traveling with kids—it means we never have to endure sitting at a restaurant with kids after a busy day of traveling, and we can prepare the foods that they like. The outdoor space gives our kids a place to burn off some energy.  When we travel by car, we always bring our dogs, too.  It feels like a real family vacation.  My older son affectionately refers to the vacation rentals as the “yellow house,” “brown house,” etc.  He has specific travel memories attached to each one.

– Jenna Francisco, thisismyhappiness.com

I think the best place to stay with kids is camping in the woods – there is no end of toys to keep the kids entertained!

– Nancy Sathre-Vogel, Family on Bikes

When we began our indefinite life as world nomads, we began in Cozumel, a small island off Mexico’s Caribbean coast.  One of my goals for our time there was to get further training as a scuba diver since I wanted to become an instructor and needed some additional certifications prior to that happening.  I found this homey hostel online.  The two big attractions for me were that one of the owners was a scuba instructor and that they were about 30 meters from the beach.  Also they had a small swimming pool, and my son is extremely attracted to water.  It ended up being the best choice we could’ve made for lodging, especially to begin our new lifestyle.  The owners became like family to us and introduced us to more of the community and even helped us find our first small house for our extended stay on the island.

– Talon Windwalker – Windwalker Duo

Thailand surprised us as being much more touristy and expensive than we had imagined. We wanted a place to be with our family for a few weeks, a place where we felt we could chill and relax and enjoy ourselves. When looking for a good place for our family, we wanted a location where we each had some space to breathe and explore, where our kids could run around and make noise, where they could connect to nature and to the local kids, and that was comfortable enough for the family. We are now in Kanchanaburi, Thailand (about two hours South of Bangkok) and found this perfect place. It’s called Sugar Cane (not to be confused with Sugar Cane 2) and we negotiated down to $4 (125 baht) a night. The rooms are nice and clean, with a queen-sized bed and a nice table fan. There is a great lawn area, a dock right on the River Kwai (where our kids fish and we exercise), and an open dining area/restaurant (where we do our lessons, use the computers, and hang out). The staff is nice and polite, and they like kids. It’s amazing how you can find anywhere in the world, a quiet place to call home – you just have to be patient in looking until you find that perfect place.

– Gabi Klaf, The Nomadic Family

My wife and I have very few rules when it comes to finding a place for our traveling family to rest our heads for an evening.  We try to avoid packs of men in suits, fine china, and vibrating beds (although my kids get a kick out of them).  We look for free breakfasts and swimming pools!

It’s the little things my kids love.  The unique nature of each place.  It doesn’t matter if we’re camping, couchsitting, or staying at the Holiday Inn, if my kids have the freedom to uncover the uniqueness of a place, they are happy (and then we are happy).  I think any place that affords kids the opportunity to explore and discover is great.  Bells and whistles are more for us adults; all my kids need is unpretentious space.

– Justin Mussler, The Great Family Escape

When we travel, we more often than not bring our two small children. It is important to us that they get ample opportunity to see the world, experience different cultures and have memorable experiences. It is also important to us however, that it is enjoyable for everyone, which means adjusting our itineraries to incorporate ample down time and enough space to create a temporary home. For this reason we use home rentals. The reality is that in most major cities around the world it is less expensive to rent an entire flat than a hotel room. You just have to be willing to sacrifice the amenities of a hotel like daily fresh towels, a maid or a swimming pool. We prefer the flexibility of being able to make our own meals, come and go as we please and have more than one room for when it is time to put the kids to bed. We have used home rentals multiple times now and while not always 100% pleased with the decor or lack of a lift, we learn as we go and each time gets better as we refine our needs going into our search for a home away from home.

– Krista Ewert  One Beautiful Life

So family-friendly lodging should be unique, with a kitchen and outdoor space, and should give kids the opportunity to make noise, explore nature, and get to know the local community. A pool helps. As does a staff that likes kids. Do you have more ideas? Places to recommend? Let us know in the comments.