I have always loved to stay in hotels! From the rooms to the pool, I love the entire experience. I believe this stems from many happy and fun memories of hotels with my family. I have played games, spent hours and hours swimming, watched cable TV (before it was the norm) and laughed a lot!
And even though the idea of staying in a hotel is exciting, children are children and eventually you may hear the words "I'm bored...." Parents need to be prepared when this comment comes.
Choosing your accommodations
We stay in hotels for a few reasons -- vacations, weddings, stopovers, business and more. Your decision about where to stay will be much easier to make if you decide upon the reason for the stay first.
If the hotel is a stopover, then the choice should be about convenience, cleanliness and sleeping -- amenities are not a major part of the decision. However, if you are going to be staying for a few days, read the following advice for happy hoteling!
Choose your location wisely
If you love to swim, find a waterslide or a pool -- but if you love to shop, make sure the room is near a mall. Whenever we can, my kids and I accompany my husband on regular business trips and enjoy the hotel. We hit malls nearby and we stay poolside. The kids love it as they can swim almost nonstop!
Do things you wouldn't do at home and have fun with it
We do not watch a lot of TV at home, so in hotels I let my children watch away. Be sure to eat out and to order in to keep things different! If possible let them sleep in their clothes, have a pillow fight, sleep with Mom or Dad, skip a nap or a bath, have a treat before bed, eat sugar cereal...the list goes on.
Be willing to spend a little bit more to get the right room or hotel
We've paid $10 more to have a poolside room or to have a pool at all. We've also splurged to be closer to our main destination. Overall, the fee difference often saves you time and money. Another option is to stay farther away to experience something new. During a stopover in Boston we went to Cape Cod for a few nights -- it was amazing.
Click here for a list of fun family road trip games.
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Take advantage of services the hotel offers
Many Delta hotels have children's programs that include camps with excellent camp counsellors.
Bring new and different treats, games and toys. I have stocked up at the dollar store or at garage sales. I keep these secret until I NEED them. Children love new ideas, treats and toys. A new puzzle, a new trinket or, as I have found recently, a new $7 electronic card game can entertain children for hours.
Create unique experiences
We eat cereal in a cup with a plastic spoon, keeping the milk cold in ice in the sink. If there is a mini bar, I clear it out and fill it with fun food -- fresh raspberries on a trip are as exciting as candy. Room service is also pretty exciting for children (truth be told, I still find it exciting myself).
And finally, parents, we need to relax and enjoy ourselves. When we are relaxed, so is everyone around us. Pillow fights, a bit of candy and flipping channels are not things to worry about in a hotel. We can and DO get so caught up in the little things that we forget that the point of a holiday is a break -- so try to act like a kid again and you'll have the best trip ever!
Tracy Lyn Moland, mother of two school-aged children, is the author of Mom Management and a regular corporate spokesperson, media guest and freelance writer. For more tips and ideas, check out her website, www.tracylynmoland.com.
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