One thing that makes a hotel stay better is to make a couple of checklists. One checklist can be used when making your reservation, and the other can be for preparing for your stay. I've compiled a couple of lists to get you started. These are things that I've learned over the years, and we use whenever we travel.
- Select hotels where the rooms have indoor access and a lobby.
- Select hotels that are at least 2 1/2 stars. If you are on a budget, most 2 1/2 star hotels still offer a great deal, while being able to accommodate you an your family adequately. If you dip down to a 2 star hotel... don't say I didn't warn you!
- Find out if the hotel room has a balcony and/or opening windows. If so, purchase some inexpensive window locks to take along with you.
- If you need a crib, ask to reserve one. A lot of hotels only have a few cribs, so it is important that you make sure one will be available to you. If you book through a third party (like online booking), call the hotel after your reservation goes through to make sure they reserve the crib for you- even if you requested it when booking your reservation. Many online booking sites don't note special arrangements with the hotel. This tip goes the same for booking accessible rooms.
- If your kids tend to stomp and jump around a lot (as many kids do), try to request a room that is not above another guest room. See if you can get first floor, or a room over the lobby, gym, or empty room.
- Some hotels offer free kids packages. These are usually just a little activity pack of some sort. It doesn't hurt to ask if those are available.
- Some hotels offer free movies and/or video games, and others charge for them. If you want these features, ask ahead of time.
- Ask if your hotel offers a free breakfast. Many do.
- If you are staying longer than a couple of nights, see if you can get a room with a microwave and small refrigerator. You may think it's unnecessary at first, but believe me, you will be glad to have it!
- Find out if the hotel offers free wi-fi. Most do.
- If you are staying longer than a week, ask if the hotel has an on site guest laundry room. If they don't be sure to locate a nearby laundromat.
- Ask if the hotel offers free parking, or if the validate.
- Take some bottled water. You (and your kids) will get thirsty, and sometimes the water in hotels tastes funny.
- For longer stays, it is beneficial to find a nearby grocery store. You can pick up a gallon of milk, some cereal, bread & other sandwich fixin's, fruit, chips, water, etc. This is much cheaper than dining out for every meal! Don't forget paper plates, cups, forks, etc. (Sometimes you can get plates & stuff from the front desk clerk.)
- Ask if the hotel has a BBQ grill available. You'd be surprised how many do! An inexpensive dinner can consist of grilled meat, a microwaved baked potato, and grilled or micro-steamed veggies- again, cheaper than dining out every night!
- If your room doesn't have a microwave, most of the time, there is one in the lobby or breakfast area for guests to use. If it doesn't have a fridge, pack a cooler & use the ice from the ice machine.
- Pack for as many days as you plan on staying, up to a week. Any longer, make arrangements to do laundry.
- Pack a light jacket in the summer and a couple of light shirts in the winter. You don't want to be caught off guard if the weather is unpredictable.
- Pack extra socks for the kids. Just trust me on this one.
- If you are staying longer than a week, bring your own toiletries- shampoo, conditioner, lotion, toothpaste, etc. Those tiny ones get annoying and your own is probably better anyway!
- Pack an extra (empty) dufflebag. It will come in handy for souvenirs and extra things you buy.
There you have it! These are some of the best hotel tips I've accumulated over our years of travel. If I've missed any, or you have an awesome tip, I'd love for you to share in a comment!
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