Friday, May 13, 2011

Accommodation for traveling kids: 5 things to look for

Going on vacation with children, especially young children, can present some challenges when it comes to accommodation. For example, staying in a hotel isn't necessarily easy or relaxing with small children who might not eat the food offered by restaurants or room-service, and who might find a regular hotel room pretty confining.

The view from our condo in Kaanapali, Maui.

Of course, there are alternatives to hotels. One alternative is to go camping, in which case you pretty much run the show yourself and decide what amenities you bring along. Or you can rent a condo, cabin or house privately.

3 essentials
Regardless of the type of accommodation, I don't worry too much about the amenities if we're only spending a single night somewhere. However,  if we're in for a longer stay there are three things I always look for.

1. Laundry facilities
This doesn't have to be a washing machine in the room (which you can pretty much only get if you're renting a private house or condo), but I do want to at least have access to a washing machine and preferably a dryer (though line-drying works fine too). A laundromat across the street or (better) a coin laundry in the hotel works for me.

Kids just make a lot of laundry, and if there's a washing machine it also means you don't have to bring as much kids' clothing in your luggage. Sure, lots of hotels provide a laundry service, but it's often expensive and also takes more time than if you're able to do it yourself.

2. Somewhere to cook
If you're traveling with a picky eater, or a baby who is still not eating regular food, it can really help to have the ability to cook your own food. A microwave and small stove is really all it takes. Of course, cooking your own food is also generally cheaper than eating out, so you might save a bundle doing it.

I know that our family vacations in both Maui and Gran Canaria were easier and less stressful because we had kitchen facilities. Making breakfast without having to leave the room, cooking a quick pasta lunch or some hot dogs, or being able to prepare mashed baby food can help make your holiday go a lot smoother.

3. A fridge
A fridge is a real must-have for me. And not just a hotel-bar fridge either, though if there's nothing else, that is better than nothing. It makes it possible to keep all sorts of kid-friendly snacks on hand: yogurt, milk, vegetables, juices, cold-cuts, fruits, cheese...

Plus, you can stock it with some nice drinks for grown-ups too: a cold beer or a chilled bottle of wine is a nice addition to any holiday!

2 extras
If I have those three essential things, there are two less essential amenities that I look for as well, just to make our stay even better:

4. A bathtub
My kids love having baths. They love showers as well, but baths are their favored way of getting clean at the end of the day. A bathtub instantly provides a way to entertain the kids and give them a way to unwind. Baths can also really help to get all the sand off your kids if they've spent a day at the beach, burying themselves in the sand, digging in the sand, rolling in the sand, swimming and then rolling in the sand... well, you get the idea.

In a pinch, liquid hotel-soap or regular hotel-shampoo  make for great bubble baths too!

5. A pool
My children love baths and they love to splash around in pools too. A pool is a great place to play with your kids, get them moving if they're bored, and also really feel like you are on a holiday.

Outdoor pools are the most awesome in my opinion, but indoor pools will do just fine. Just remember to bring swimsuits!


  1. Great essentials. I also have found the hotel should be unique, for instance with a courtyard, or some super fun thing to do with kids, playground, I've stayed at one with a safari.

    When traveling with kids, we end up being in hotels more than checking out the sights, so it's great to have a fun hotel.

  2. That's a great point about there being something special for the kids there. And yea, you definitely end up spending more time in a hotel with kids than without: some days it's just easier if you can hang out with them without having to "go" somewhere!


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