Any Austinite traveling with tots knows that not just any motel room or Airbnb will do. Zoie Kingsbery Coe found this out the hard way when she traveled the world with her husband and baby and noted lodging after lodging that lacked child-friendly amenities.
The entrepreneur took matters into her own hands and founded Kid & Coe, a website that helps makes vacationing with family easier and more fun. Five years after making all those lists, Coe's site has become an indispensable tool that families use to make their trips more comfortable and enjoyable.
As a Texas-based traveling mom of a little one, I use it all the time to book my excursions. Kid & Coe curates a list of stylish vacation rentals around the world that offer kid-friendly perks like playrooms and backyards. Folks can list their homes and become hosts, as well.
What makes it different from Airbnb and VRBO? In addition to every property looking like it is straight out of an editorial shoot (s-t-u-n-n-i-n-g), they are hand selected by families for families.
"Just about all of our homeowners are parents, and that means they have empathy with your situation as a traveling family — more than likely, they are one, too. The shared ground makes a stay so much easier," said Coe, who currently resides in Ibiza.
Amenities listed range from babysitting services to fridge stocking and everything in between. Customers can easily search for properties with cribs, games, and even baby monitors.
Parents know that often, destinations that tout themselves as "child friendly" are long on style and short on substance. Coe recognized this, which is why a demand to share her findings about family-friendly travel inspired her to start the site. Part of her mission is to inspire people to think outside the box when it comes to family vacations.
"Disney must be done, and we love a kids club as much as the next person, but we also believe in showing our children a world that stretches beyond typical family travel boundaries," Coe said.
Coe says that the majority of renters are choosing to stay in the city rentals listed on the site (think Amsterdam, Paris, and London); however, she personally has wild and off-the-grid locations saved in her bucket list file. At the top of her wish list is this Brazilian treehouse. (I personally am dreaming of a trip to New York City that involves my family making ourselves at home at this Tribeca beauty.)
The site has picked up steam quickly in the U.S., especially in Texas. When it started, just one Texas rental — a Hill Country beauty — was listed. Now, customers can find vacation homes all over the state, from Houston to Austin to Dallas-Fort Worth.
Kid & Coe is constantly adding new properties in popular travel spots and has its eye on bringing even more options in fun destinations like Sardinia and Ile de Re, off the coast of France. Coe's hidden-gem travel destination? Portugal, for its affordability, great cafes, and beautiful beaches.
"It’s about seeing that the world is wider than the bubble we live in," Coe said. "Trying new food — even if you don’t like it — seeing new animals, meeting new people, and trying out new activities are good for all children. Kids understand more about what they like and don’t like, they gain a curiosity about the world around them, and they are more outgoing and accepting in their approach."
Traveling with kids can be truly magical and always memorable (for better or worse) for the whole family. Coe encourages parents to travel with their kids as much as possible, and to savor their time together.
"The generosity people in other countries extend to your children — a cheeky head rub in Morocco, a little tickle under the chin in Italy, extra sprinkles on your daughter’s ice cream in Mexico — makes you see that the world is a varied and wonderful place."