Good accommodation can make or break a trip. I have three priorities when looking for accommodation on the road – a central location, a spacious room and good amenities. My essential amenities include a fridge so Reuben can have milk at night and yoghurt for breakfast and a swimming pool if we’re in a hot country. We’re pretty easy to please! When we’re traveling around the globe, we’ll compromise on these for one or two nights, like when we had to we can make do with UHT milk in the Perhentians, but on the whole, if our a hotel or apartment mets a general our criteria and budget, we’re a lot happier in our travels. Lee, especially!
Searching for and Booking a Hotel
Get to know the different areas in a city before looking at hotels. A centrally located hotel will give you a chance to take a break during the day for lunch, a swim at the hotel pool or a nap. Minimize the amount of travel time between your hotel and the sights you want to see and do. This will also give you the opportunity to pop out for an hour or two without making it a full day affair.
Now that Reuben’s sleeping in a bed I try and find family rooms (with a king bed and a single). Prior to this, we used to travel with a portacrib (portacot). If you’re choosing between two equally matched hotel rooms, go for the one that is the largest in area. Bigger is better! The more space to unpack, play, build forts out of pillows, the better. Try to find rooms or suites with a separate sitting area or even just a large ante-room at the entrance. Somewhere you can pitch a portacrib without tripping over it in the night on the way to the bathroom. It’ll help when bedtime rolls around to have a slightly separate space so you can still read, use your laptop and snuggle without disturbing your little one.
When I’m searching for a hotel I always look for recommendations. Here are a few ways to find them:
- Post a message on your Facebook or Twitter account. Ask your friends for recommendations. I’ve gotten some great tips for finding a family hotel this way.
- Search family travel blogs. Do a quick Google search for family travel blog + your destination city. If they haven’t mentioned what accommodation they stayed in, leave them a comment, send them an email, Tweet them or post a comment on their Facebook fan page. Every blogger I know is social media savvy and loves to help their readers.
- Use forums like the Lonely Planet Thorntree. Search the relevant destination branch and the “Kids to Go” first and if nothing turns up, post your own question. Be as specific as you can about your requirements when asking your own question.
- Read reviews on hotel booking sites. I always check reviews written by families or families with young kids. You can do this on Agoda and Tripadvisor. Take reviews with a grain of salt. Lots of fake reviews get posted on these sites.
Of course, hotels aren’t the only source of accommodation. In next week’s edition of Toddler Travel Tips I’ll cover why renting an apartment is such a great idea for the travelling family and how I go about finding them.