Budget

Affordable Family Vacations

by Nicola McCormack

HOUSEBOAT RENTALS

If you're planning a getaway to a city with canals—one of the Industrial Revolution's happier outcomes—consider a houseboat as a colorful and fairly priced alternative to a hotel. Most houseboats have similar facilities to rental apartments—plus, the idea of messing about on the river is much more exciting to kids than staying on land. (Swimming lessons, of course, are a prerequisite.)

In addition to windmills, wooden shoes, and the Anne Frank House, the canals of Amsterdam make this city a great place to take the kids. Houseboat Hotel has a selection of properties in and around the city. Houseboat B039, berthed five minutes from the central Munttoren, is a modern, surprisingly airy boat that costs just over $300 a night. It's got two bedrooms, a bathroom with tub, fully equipped kitchen, and washer/dryer, plus a cool deck to hang out on. When you're researching houseboat rentals, it's a good idea to mention you're bringing kids, so the agency can rule out any moorings near noisy, late-night bars.

Another city that might float your boat is London: The Bush Houseboat is moored on the Thames in Kew, only 15 minutes by train from Waterloo Station, and can cost as little as $200 a night for five people.

Don't want to go overseas? Tobiko is an impressive two-level houseboat in Sausalito with views of San Francisco Bay. It sleeps six and costs $300 a night.

NEXT: More ideas for family vacations

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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