Do your family vacations conjure the picnic scene from “National Lampoon’s Vacation?” Well don’t be afraid. This summer, I want your family vacation to be unforgettable for all the right reasons. So over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some important and practical family travel tips and ideas.
Planning is the key to success for your family vacation. You need to get everyone involved from the apathetic teen to the tantrum-laden three year old. Give each member of the family an equal stake in the trip’s success and you will cut down on mid-trip stand-offs and really increase the overall camaraderie. It’s as simple as letting each member choose a restaurant or an activity that you all participate in during the vacation.
And there’s now a fun way to plan and book your trip. Visit http://www.virtualvacay.com. This hotels.com microsite, VirtualVacation, let’s you visit 10 top destinations and plan your trip before you ever arrive. It’s a great visually entertaining way to show kids where you are going and what the options are for when you get there. Plus you can make the wind blow in Chicago, the fireworks launch in San Francisco and so many more cool effects in the virtual world.
Choosing a child-friendly hotel can make all the difference for your success on a family vacation. It allows you to focus on the part that makes family travel matter, experiencing new things together and building shared memories, rather than the mechanics of adjusting to a hotel that would just as soon have you steal the towels than bring along the kids.
Family-friendly amenities, include:
1. Suites with kitchenettes
2. Refrigerators available upon request
4. Cribs or rollaways upon request
5. High chairs
6. Children’s menus and eat-free programs
7. On-call doctors
8. Children’s welcome kits
9. Children’s activity programs
10. Pint-sized furniture and amenities
Today, many hotels get “it.” The “it” being that family-friendly equals repeat business and lots of it. Some hotels go well beyond children’s menus and in-room refrigerators with kid-suites – complete with bunk beds and pint-size furniture; others have kid size bathrobes and camp-like programs geared at entertaining toddlers to teenagers.
Here are a few hotel chain standouts in the world of accommodations for children. But don’t just take just my word for it, remember to read guest reviews and see what other families like and dislike about a resort and then make the best decision for your trip.
Consider the following hotel chains next time you are bringing your under 18 traveling companions.
Omni Hotels: Omni takes kid friendly to the top with its Sensational Kids program. There’s even a website for the kids to check out http://www.omnikidsrule.com. Omni Hotels in California, Texas and Boston also offer Kid’s Fantasy Suites that has kids bedding.
Kimpton Boutique Hotels: Kimpton’s family of boutique hotels are home to some of my best hotel experiences and their hospitality is not just for those over 5’. The KimptonKids program makes it easier for families to travel by already having on hand the items you dislike packing such as safety kits. You’ll love the mini animal print robes to fit their junior guests. And if you think this is good, Kimpton is super pet-friendly, too.
Hyatt Resorts: Hyatt Resorts offer kids their own vacations with the Camp Hyatt programs found at resorts in the US, Hawaii and the Caribbean. Camp Hyatt has now teamed up with National Geographic Kids and features all new adventures loaded with eco-friendly activities, animal crafts and facts, photo safaris and tons of locally inspired activities.
Single Parent Travel tips: some resorts offer single parent discounts. For example, Breezes all-inclusive resorts have single parent months during August-October.
You can find all of the above-mentioned resorts and more on Hotels.com, and sort by family-friendly to narrow down your options when searching for the right spot for your next trip.