It’s a brand new year with lots of adventures to be had! Our schedule is filling up with lots of adventures to parts of the world we’ve never seen–some we had never considered until a few weeks ago–and back to introduce the little ones in our family to old stomping grounds in the United States. Now that the kids are getting a little bit further away from the little-baby nap-anywhere stage, our lodgings matter more: with four people, two of whom need a bit of quiet in the afternoon and an early bedtime, we’re in our hotel more than we used to be. Here’s what we look for in lodging.
A friend with older children once told us “If you share a room with your kids, everyone is going to bed at 7pm or 12am. No in-between.” With that in mind, whenever it’s possible we look up vacation apartment rentals. Googling your destination will bring you any number of websites with rental options; choose wisely. We’ve had great ones and we’ve had a dud or two, but it’s generally accepted amongst our band of fellow parent-travelers that anywhere with two bedrooms and a kitchen is the way to go. Often these can be around the same price (and occasionally cheaper!) than a full hotel room. Just be prepared to tidy up after yourself when you go.
Check your room layout
So you can’t get a self-catering apartment, or maybe your traveler program points are making it possible to get a free room. It’s fine! Just call ahead and make sure a few things are set before you book: if you need a pack ‘n play/baby cot, will the hotel provide one for free? If your kids are scared of shower heads, and boy, I wish I wasn’t speaking from experience here, are the bathrooms equipped with tubs or ultramodern glass-enclosed tiled stalls? Are there minibars in the rooms and can they be locked to prevent your wee one from tripping the fee-incurring motion sensors? And what’s the square footage on the room? No free room is worth it if you’re squashed so close together that you have to climb over furniture and play human Tetris to get around. These things make a difference in the quality of your stay. And so do…
A few helpful gadgets
Normally, I’m not a gadget traveler, but there are some things that really perform as advertised to make life better on the road. If you have to share a room with the kiddies and you just aren’t ready to go to sleep at 7:30pm, having an iPod/iPhone/iPad with movies to share with your partner is a huge plus–and if you want to watch the same thing, so is having a headphone splitter port so you can watch the same device without disturbing anyone. My husband and I are fond of the BBC “Sherlock” reboot, ourselves.
If you can’t find something and don’t want to wake anyone up, flashlights are good. Headlamp flashlights so you can have both hands free? Better! If you have outlet covers for the country in which you’re traveling, bring them along, but if not you can throw a roll of thick painter’s tape in your bag to pop over the outlets just in case (or throw three or four strips on the minibar to childproof it a bit).
Of course, there’s always the high-end option: rent them their own hotel room. Dare to dream, right? How do you make hotel stays with your kids easier?
All photos by author.