WE HAVE A WINNER!! Congrats to Wendy M!
In June 2011, we set out on a yearlong trip around the world. While few things were certain, we knew that we’d be sleeping in our fair share of hotels as we traveled. Over the course of that year we not only slept in “hotels, motels and Holiday Inns” (as the “Rapper’s Delight” song goes) but we also found ourselves in trailer parks, bed and breakfasts and homestays.
A good night sleep can’t be underestimated and when you’re traveling with young children, making sure everyone is comfortable and happy can make a huge difference in how the rest of the day goes. Over the years we’ve gotten better at choosing where to stay and what to look out for. As you plan your next family adventure, here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind before you book the hotel.
How Big is the Room?
Just slipping into a hotel for a night? A tiny, cramped room might be fine. Planning on a few days and expecting to spend a lot of time in the room? Think again. There’s nothing like a rainy day to make you realize that 200 square feet is not a lot of room for a family of 4. Be realistic about what you need to be comfortable. Look at photos of the room you’re looking to book on the hotel website or at oyster.com before you hit the *purchase* button.
Can the Room Accommodate you?
When we set out on our trip the kids were only 6 and 8. In most places we visited I wasn’t comfortable having them in a room separate to ours. In some countries, that can be a problem. Triple rooms (i.e. sleep 3) are popular in places like China; quadruples are harder to come by. Hotels have rules about how many people can be in a room and some set out how young children must be in order to share a room with their parents. Are there options for connecting rooms? Are you comfortable with them? Think ahead. These are not the kinds of surprises you want to bump into when you get there. Make sure you have a good understanding of the situation you’ll be facing before you book.
What’s the bed situation?
If you’re traveling with really little ones, you’ll also want to have a sense ahead of time of what the hotel provides, so that you can travel with as little as possible. Do you need to bring your playpen or does the hotel provide one? Is there a charge? Some hotels like Holiday Inn will have those options on hand but you still want to have your request noted on your reservation. And it’s not just little ones you need to think about.
As we traveled with the boys, one of the first things we realized was that we’d assumed they’d be fine sharing a bed for the year. We were wrong. Be realistic about what you need or you’ll risk extra expense when reality strikes.
Bathtub vs. Shower
When you’re used to bathing your kids in a tub, walking into a room without one can be an issue. If not having a tub is going to be a deal-breaker, better to know that before you get there. Check ahead to make sure your room has what you need.
Location, location, location
Whether you make the notation on your request at time of booking or you ring the hotel after you’ve locked in, there are certain predictable noisemakers that you can avoid in advance. Elevators are high traffic zones and ice machines are unpredictable. Asking for a room away from these is a good start. There will be times when you won’t be able to predict what the problem will be. Maybe, your next door neighbours are night owls who like to party or the snorer in the next room rattles your wall. This is where you’ll get more with sugar than venom. Speak kindly with the manager on site and ask for a room change as soon as you note the problem. Also, keep in mind your comfort preferences. Young kids and a balcony way up high may not be a good idea. If you’d prefer to be on a lower floor, the best time to ask is before you commit.
You know what I hate? Thinking I got a great deal only to be nickle and dimed when I arrive. You know how to avoid that? Ask upfront. Is WiFi included? Is access to the fitness centre? Are there any resort fees or extra costs not covered by the rate you’re considering? Once you’ve got your eye set on a particular hotel give them a ring and ask the questions. Over time you’ll begin to have a sense of which places include what. We know when we choose a Holiday Inn property WIFI and pool access are included. We also know that the kids will eat free and won’t be stuck with only “chicken nugget and french fries” options. And knowing that means we might choose that chain over another in a situation where that’s what we need. If your hotel is charging $25 per day for WIFI and you know you’re going to need it, you’ll want to know that long before you first log on.
What’s been said about it?
Read those reviews. We already know that many of you are. That survey I quoted in my last post showed 75 % of Canadians surveyed were checking out their hotels before they got there. That’s a good thing. Any information – good or bad – you can get about the place you’ll be laying your head is useful. Pay it forward after your stay by adding your review to the pile online.
What about you? What are the questions you always ask before you book your hotel? Let me know in the comments below and you could win enough points for a 3-night stay at the Holiday Inn of your choice! One winner will be chosen at random on January 4, 2014. Want extra entries? Share the contest on Twitter or Facebook using the form below. Good Luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I always ask about internet cost/options and the cost of parking. Nothing like getting a “great” deal and having to pay an additional $25 – $30 a night for parking.
Bed size — our family of four just won’t fit comfortably in two double beds, but we can skip the second room if there are two queens. We also check internet costs and whether breakfast is included. When included those two (and parking if appropriate) can make enough of a cost difference to justify upgrading to a nicer hotel.
At least a king size bed and if traveling with the kids, a pull out or second bed. A pool is a must too. The reputation of the hotel is important too.
Traveling as a single mom means choosing a hotel that is either centrally located or one that offers lots if transportation options. Minimizing stress is important when you’re traveling alone with a young child, so being in a hotel that’s either in the center of the attractions we traveled to visit, or that offers us shuttles and transfers, is hugely helpful.
king size bed, free wifi and shuttle service, my three main requisites.
We not only want to know if Wifi is included, but how fast is it. As we are usually working while travelling if we can’t make a decent skype call then it’s pretty useless for us. My daughter always wants to know if there is chocolates on the pillows :D
WiFi, a King size bed and shuttle service are my requirements!!
I always ask about early and late check out. When traveling I try to maximize my time in each city.
I always ask that there be a fridge in the room when travelling with Hannah. Food allergies mean we need to keep things on hand. Also wifi ;)
I always like to know if they can guarantee adjoining rooms. MOST hotels will not, so it’s good to get a request in early on the off-chance they can.
We’re staying in hotels with the kids more now that they’re a bit older. Last year was our first trip with multiple hotel stays and we stayed in a holiday inn every stop. I know what to expect and that made me more comfortable than anything. We’ll be doing the same when we drive down to our vacation location in myrtle beach this march.
Wi-fi, preferably free! And a really comfortable bed….like the one we were in last week at Le Hotel Bleu in Brooklyn.
I’m a stickler for cleanliness, the reviews help me with my final choice. The size of the room and the beds are also main factors to ensure comfortability for our family of four. Wifi is a bonus but not of importance since being on vacation means spending time with family minus our need for electronic stimulus. Wifi is usually available in a common meeting area or for a fee, so if we do breakdown, there’s always an option.
Our next vacation – that’s a tough question! I’d say the beach, the kids would say camping, and Dad, well, he usually goes with the flow. I know we have been thinking about driving to DC to visit the Smithsonian in the summer…. and, we’d love to go visit our long time friends in Alberta… and we’ve never seen the East Coast…. so many options!!
I like to know the location. Are we within walking distance to public transportation, what attractions are nearby. Nothing worse than being in the middle of nowhere.
Wifi, fridge, size of beds, fridge, and is breakfast included.
I always look for wifi and a safe for my camera equipment. The next destination on my wish list is Peru. Gotta see the llamas.
A coffee machine and a good hotel pool are essential! (Mostly the coffee machine)
I always ask how much a up grade is. More times than not it’s $20 and we can usually get a suite or at least 2 separate sleeping places for our teens.
I always check out pictures of the room we are booking and customer comments and reviews have been very helpful for finding out tips about the hotel and what to watch out for
I always ask about parking (especially if it is in a downtown area), whether or not their is a breakfast included and if not, what restaurants are close by.
I always ask of there is an construction underway on the premises and if there are any conferences at the yime I am booking for.
Great post! When taking a family trip, I always ask about mini fridge/kitchenette, for a room away from elevators, and if there’s a pool. Also, a suite is a great solution if you can find an all-suite hotel on budget, because when the kiddo heads to bed, we don’t have to as well!
If using a hotel as a park and fly option, ask the detailed questions before you arrive. How many days can we park our vehicle? Is there an airport shuttle? Is the shuttle 24hrs? Are there early morning breakfast options available at the hotel for those really early departures?
While I think that online reviews can be very important I always try to be a bit skeptical of them. There are a lot of trolls out there! The best way to choose a hotel is by the recommendation of a friend. It helps out a lot that I have a lot of friends who love to travel!!!!
I always ask about wifi and, maybe weird, but I hate traveling alone or as a couple and having a room with two beds! It just seems like too much clutter/not romantic depending on the situation!
I’d like to carry on my next vacation in Nova Scotia
I always ask if we have access to free wifi and the fitness centre. I also ask if there is a charge for leaving the car at the property if we are flying out of town.
I would love to carry-on in Edinburgh Scotland!
WiFi is a must, and also, a nice view too! I would love to carry-on in New York!
we ALWAYS ask if there’s a pool and if early check-in is available! With 2 kids, you need to know these things!
Free internet is always key as well as the convenience of early/late check-out. I would carry-on my adventures in Japan!
I would like to carry-on my next vacation to Ecuador and Peru.
Before I stay at a hotel I generally check the reviews and I check maps to see what buildings are around the hotel as well. I try to avoid a hotel that’s smack dab in the middle of a super busy area.
We just stayed at the Holiday Inn in Peterborough last night. Nice hotel and beautiful view of the river from our room.
I would love to go to Miami. I stayed at the holiday inn in both LA and Palm Springs. Both good experiences.
Would love to carry on next in Goa, India! The Holiday Inn in Goa is absolutely gorgeous!
I ask if there’s a fridge.
I like to bring my own snacks and milk for my morning coffee. :)
i’d love to go greece!
Love to carry on to Cali!
Double beds and wifi! Close proximity to shops and restaurants is also a must.!
I’d like to carry-on wifi to somewhere warm with big beds and clean rooms
Id like to travel anywhere honestly. Hubs doesnt much care for travelling. Id love to see LA
WiFi and size of beds, would love to go to L.A
I always ask about the bed. Two people in a queen size bed – which isn’t always queen size, btw, is just not luxury.
I would like to carry-on some place hot and away from this cold! I like to ask about wifi.
some place HOT!!!
Somewhere with a beautiful beach!
I have a loooong list of what I’d like to have but mainly I want it to be CLEAN. CLEAN… did I mention clean? Everything else I can pretty much manage with as long as I know ahead of time what to expect which is why I read hotel reviews for hours before booking a room. Fab tips here! Lots to think about as the little ones grow older… thus far it’s easy!
Id like to grab the hubby and head to Montreal and catch a Habs game!
Id like to carry on thru the streets of New York city.
Location (downtown preferably), free Wi-Fi & free breakfast would be great :)
Would love to carry on in Vermont
Be near major tourist attractions and with free parking.
I always check the out the hotel online and examine the pictures. I also like to read other people’s comments on the hotel. I ask about wifi plus early and late check-outs and if they pick up at the airport.
I’d love to go to NYC for my birthday March 22.
Would love to carry on in Hawaii…the important features in a hotel are wifi, a good bed and decent shower!
Carry on to France
I ask regarding transportation from the hotel to tourist attractions and/or airport. :-) Is breakfast included :-)
I would love to vacation in Vancouver next. I always ask the hotel if they offer late checkout, what the pool hours are and what their cancellation policy is.
Carry on over to Europe!
Carry on to England, or New Zealand . Always ask if the room is ensuite – it’s amazing how many places in Britain are not
I check to see if there is an elevator if I am travelling with a stroller. nothing worse than having to lift a sleeping child in your stroller up several flights of stairs.
I’d like to carry on in Scotland
I always check out online reviews before deciding on a hotel. And we would LOVE to win a stay at the Holiday Inn in Frankfurt for our family trip in April! Thank you for offering this fabulous contest. :)
Would use in California!
I want to go to Hawaii!
The kids always like to have pool access if we are staying at a hotel for a little while. I think it’s good to look at reviews if we are choosing a hotel for this reason (and many other reasons) because some hotel pools can be too tiny or unclean, or maybe they are outdoors and we are in a cold climate.
I would definetly check what’s not included in the room cost, I hate paying for all the extras like parking, WiFi, pool etc.
I would check in Egypt
I would like to visit my sis and her family in B.C.
I always ask about parking fees, access to pools, whether there is breakfast available and internet fees when I book a hotel.
I always ask if our room is near an elevator or ice making machine as the noise is bound to keep me awake. Also, I want to know if there are any sports teams staying on our floor, if so, I change our room.
Looking forward to carrying on in Florida
I like to check if there is underground parking.
It would be so nice to carry on in Hawaii!
If room has a mini-bar fridge.
New York please is where I would like to carry-on!
Read my post about what I would carry on LOL Timely post don’t you think.
So many places I’d love to visit..Tennessee or Florida
I would love to carry on my vacation to Alabama and new Orleans :)
I like early and late check outs, so I always ask about check in and check out times.
I’d like to carry on in Quebec City for a few days with my family.
Think a trip to Vancouver to visit friends would be awesome.
I check for heated pool(my kids love to swim and not so much in a cold pool!) and free wifi! Such a drag when it is extra. Location is key to want to be close to options for food when travelling with young kids as well as noise factor. I try and read reviews to get a sense of hotel first. Can’t always trust the pictures…great blog!
Definitely to California ! Great blog post, I hate the ‘extra’s’ added on as well when you get to the hotel.
Definitely Quebec City!
I always ask if they have free parking & free wifi. Also late check out is great for us as our whole family likes to sleep in while on vacation.
I always check for hotels with a pool. Great exercise for me but also a way to keep my nephews occupied if everyone is tired at the end of the day!
I want to carry-on in Florida!
I always ask about early check-in and late check-out. Why not, just in case? Also request a room not too close to an elevator due to noise. And I like easy access to major attractions and shopping. And finally, never forget to ask if there are renovations scheduled during the planned stay, which can definitely interfere with a comfortable stay, or offer a discounted rate.
I would love to take my daughter somewhere warm…Hawaii.
I’d carry on in Vermont
I would love to take the kids to disneyland!
The Italian lakes
Anywhere with a sandy beach, hot sun and the ocean!
My main questions when booking a hotel are location and price.
I’d like to take my next trip to England.
I ask if there is a swimming pool, if there are mini-fridges available, a nearby grocery store, and if there is anywhere to eat in safe walking distance (after a long day on the road, we may not want to do anything but walk to a cafe or restaurant).
The #1 question I ask hotels is if there is a fee to use the wi-fi.
I have a long list of what I wan but it all depends on the price as well but the main thin is that it have to be CLEAN. Most of the other things I can manage without… you get what you pay
This is an awesome giveaway…and blog :)
I forgot to answer your question :) I also ask if they have a pool before I book.
I would like to take my wife to Hawaii.
Hi! The questions I usually ask are:
1. is the room smoke free
2. is continental breakfast included
3. how many people can stay in a room?
4. Do you have a microwave and minifridge?
5. Is an iron available?
6. Do you have extra cots or cribs available?
I have high expectations!