01 March 2006

Consider booking a hotel suite

When staying in a hotel with your kids, if you can, book a suite. You'll have a separate room in which to put the kids to sleep (no more hiding out in the bathroom while you wait for them to nod off). You'll also (most likely) have a fridge and an extra sink, which means you can store baby food, milk, and snacks in your room.

Swing by the grocery store for some cereal, milk and fruit (ask room service for bowls, plates, and utensils). You'll make up some of the money you spent on the suite, and you'll have breakfast (and, possibly, lunch) ready whenever you are.

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I work for the Marriott chain of hotels and also have two children of my own. In the last several years there has been a large amount of "extended stay" hotels come onto the market. Most of these rooms come with a full size kitchen equipt with a fridge, stove and sink. When ever posible when traveling I try to book my stay with one of these hotels. Most of them still offer a continental breakfast but you also have the opportunity to buy your own groceries and prepare your own meals as they come fully stocked with cooking equipment, plates, bowls and utensils. They are ussually a great find. You can find room setups ranging from a studio setup to a penthouse with two floors.

We stayed at a Residence Inn one year in San Diego and it was great. Full kitchen, living room area, they will even do your grocery shopping for you. It was a big relief not to have to worry about trying to find juice and milk in an unfamiliar city with a 2 year old in tow. Now that we have 2 kids to bring along on trips we're going to try to find Residence Inns wherever we go.

(No, I don't work for them. I was just very impressed.)

I can totally relate to hiding out in the bathroom while the little man falls asleep. Not recommended.

I really like the idea. When I was travelling just for myself, I started preferring these types of rooms as they were more comfortable and gave me a chance not to eat out.
A better question would be where to find ones that don't cost an arm and a leg for those of us trying to travel on a budget. The extra cost of these rooms is not usually offset for our clan by not eating out - it just gives that alternative. I can usually get a room at a Courtyard for under $100, but have rarely found these rooms for under $100 and if they are, they have "beds" that are almost impossible to sleep on and often seem more decoractive than functional.
That being said, Res Inns are nice, but out of our normal travel budget range.

We definitely go with suites when we travel, if at all possible. They can be a little more expensive, but we have found they more then pay for themselves in what they save you in sleep and sanity. Booking way ahead, in the off-season, and/or being flexible with days can sometimes shave a good chunk off the price.

Speaking not as a parent, but as an adult child who still vacations with the 'rents, I second the suite idea. It really helps to separate the snorers & early risers from the light sleepers and late risers, and the nappers from the non-nappers.

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