A Weekend To Remember
Planning a vacation for the family? We asked travel industry experts and experienced parents to share their tips for planning the perfect weekend getaway.
Get the best deal on airfare
While taking a family road trip is always a fun way to escape for the weekend, sometimes traveling by air is the best way to maximize your vacation time. When making airplane reservations for the family, Chris Cuddy — chief commercial officer of CheapOair.com — has the following tips:
Pack light, pack right
Packing tip: Click over to family travel site Minitime for packing checklists by age group.
Set yourself up for success by packing light — but not so light that you leave out the essentials. It's never fun to show up at the hotel pool only to discover you have no bathing suit!
What to look for in a hotel
Carrie Anne Badov, managing partner at EverythingMom.com, is pretty passionate when it comes to family travel.
"A swimming pool and child-friendly TV programming are a big priority for weekend getaways," says the mother of three. "Not all weekends away have to be to exotic destinations or filled with nonstop activities. Having a late-night swim, ordering room service or catching a family movie on cable in the room can be just as much fun — and Mom doesn't have to clean the room or cook!"
She recommends finding a hotel that caters to families, offering larger rooms or a separate sleeping-and-TV area for the kids.
Family travel expert Dave Parfitt, founder of Adventures by Daddy, agrees that the right hotel can make or break a family vacation.
Hotel tip: Embassy Suites hotels offer two-room suites, so kids have their own space to hang out and sleep, while parents can enjoy some quiet down time after a busy day of sightseeing.
"Look for a hotel that includes breakfast and a good pool, and the kids will be set."
Parfitt says he'd rather spend a little more money on a nice hotel room because that's part of creating a fun experience for the kids.
"Bunk beds, a suite and free breakfast — all make it special, new and exciting."
If you're a foodie, or if you simply want to expose your kids to new cuisine through travel, Badov has some great advice.
"Just because you have kids doesn't mean you have to settle for chain restaurants and toys," she says.
Instead of relying on an uninspiring children's menu, Badov likes to let her kids order from a restaurant's appetizer or small-plate menu.
"The portions are smaller, the prices are usually reasonable and you can expand your child's taste palette."
Try to find a hotel that includes breakfast so the family can fuel up for the day. Embassy Suites offers a complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast and a complimentary evening reception where everyone can relax and unwind before dinner. The kids will love the snacks and Shirley Temples, while parents will enjoy a selection of alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks and appetizers.
More family travel tips