Selecting a Family Travel Destination: No Need to Forgo Hip or Charm
By Ann LoCicero
Out of guilt or a need to maximize the amount of time we spend with our children, we have convinced ourselves for years that a family vacation requires sacrificing the interests of the parents to satisfy the needs of the kids. Thus whether traveling half way around the world or driving a mere two hours from home, many of us are heading to the same location: a "child-friendly" resort.
This need not be the rule. Many independent hotels and lodges have discovered how to make an adult environment work for kids and may be more child-welcoming than those that bill themselves as "child-friendly. "
Not surprisingly, smaller hotels, inns and lodges - many of them luxurious, hip and charming - are leading the pack. The atmosphere is cozy and the service, more personalized. In addition, your family will probably get more exposure to the local culture, not to mention cuisine, in a smaller hotel than is possible in a big international resort.
Children profit most. Many cultures embrace kids. Thus a large part of the experience in countries such as Argentina and Turkey is the interaction with the locals. Exploring other cultures provides children with a unique education; it broadens their horizon and helps them to learn more about life.
Things to keep in mind:
Rules of thumb:
- Smaller hotels may not offer round-the-clock service or traditional in-room services - mini-bar, TV and video games - but are likely to be more spontaneous, warm your baby's bottle with a smile and offer your child a dish that is not on the menu.
- Children's meals may mean that kids are not allowed in the dinning room. Aside from providing parents with a reprieve, kids-only meals usually offer food they like and provide them with an opportunity to dine with other children.
- No kids clubs. Relax. While it may take a day or two and a bit parental encouragement, kids will quickly discover how easy it is to make new friends and create fun.
- If the environment is relaxed, children will be relaxed as well.
- In a smaller hotel, you are likely to feel comfortable allowing your kids to explore on their own.
Association and specialist websites:
- Review the hotel's website. Find out if it belongs to a local or an international association. Is it recommended by your travel agent or a leading tour operator? Has it been rated?
- If the website does not mention children, they may not be welcome. A telephone call or email will avoid unwanted surprises.
Ann LoCicero is the founder of www.kidscantravel.com an emergent website for families intent on making the most of their leisure time together.
Traveling with children