How to Travel in Comfort with Kids
Tips to make your hotel stay a more pleasant experience By Mara Gorman
Child in a hotel hallway (Flickr: Martin Dubé)
There are few things kids love more than a hotel stay. What’s more fun and exciting than taking an elevator to your bedroom or having your own pool to swim in at all hours?
But hotels can be tricky for families too – some kids (and some adults) don’t sleep well when they are in close quarters with the rest of their family. Hotel hallways can be noisy with other guests slamming doors just as the baby has fallen asleep.
Happily there are a few things that you can do to make sure that your family has fun on your next hotel stay.
(MORE: Looking for a vacation destination? Find awesome kid-friendly trip ideas.)
Find a hotel that works best for your family.
Kids sleeping in a hotel room (Flickr: Mads Bødker)
The most important part of making the most of your family’s hotel stay happens before you even leave home – it’s deciding where to stay. Whether you book a room in a high-end, all-inclusive resort or in a chain hotel, check in advance to see if the hotel offers specials or amenities of any kind for families. Pick one that does, and you will insure that you choose a hotel that welcomes and accommodates kids.
The age of your children will also play a key role in helping you choose. For babies and toddlers who still take naps you’ll want your hotel to be close enough to your planned activities that you can easily get back to your room so they can sleep. Need a crib? Check to make sure your hotel will have one available before you book.
Older kids are more flexible, and for them it’s about having a little bit of room. You may want to stay in a hotel that offers adjoining or family rooms so that everyone can spread out a little. Or choose one that has comfortable and welcoming public spaces where your kids can hang out.
There are a few amenities that are great to have no matter how old your kids are. Children from babies through teens love to take a dip in a pool. On-site breakfast (especially one with a buffet) will get your day off to a great start. Some hotels offer an afternoon wine hour – find out if yours has beverages and snacks that kids will enjoy too.
Target the hotel based on what your kids will enjoy. Got a history buff? A stay in a historic hotel offers a chance to explore and learn more about the city you are visiting. Does your child like a little pampering? Some hotel spas offer services just for kids.
Choose the location of your room carefully.
Nothing can ruin a family vacation faster than having exhausted children, so you want to do everything you can to make sure your family sleeps well. That means minimizing any ambient noise.
When you book your hotel room, request that it be on the top floor and away from the elevator. Ask also if there will be any special events going on at the hotel, like a wedding, and request that your room be located away from the block of rooms allocated for the guests.
Make yourselves at home.
Make yourselves at home. (Flickr: Prasad Pillai)
Spending a little time getting unpacked and organized when you arrive will help your family feel more comfortable in your hotel room. No matter what size your room is, it will feel bigger if you put your family’s clothes into drawers and tuck your suitcases away under a bed or in a closet.
If you’ve got younger children and a bit of space in your hotel room, set up an area with some toys so that you they can play. Make your hotel room safe for toddlers by traveling with a roll of painters tape – you can cover up outlet covers, tape heavy drawers shut, and cover any sharp edges on the furniture.
Ask for what you need.
Some hotel chains offer kids special perks when you arrive, like a small backpack with toys and games. (Flickr: Janine)
Don’t be afraid to rely on the hotel staff to help you enjoy your family hotel stay; this goes beyond asking for extra pillows and blankets. The desk staff or the concierge can offer more than just tips about family-friendly restaurants and attractions, especially if they have kids of their own. Don’t be shy about asking for tips about playgrounds, kid-friendly bookstores, or the best local bakery.
Some hotel chains offer kids special perks like a snack when you arrive or a small backpack with toys and games. Others have board games or gaming systems for guests to use. When you check in ask what your hotel offers for kids and then take advantage it.
One final family hotel tip:
Don’t feel like you have to lurk in the bathroom while you wait for your children to fall asleep. Kids are often more flexible than you realize, and if you follow all your usual bedtime rituals you’ll more than likely find that they can drop off with a few lights on.
Looking for more tips on how to plan for family travel? Check out The Family Traveler’s Handbook, where you’ll find out everything you need.