As I quickly found out on my first vacation with my daughter, planning for a vacation with kids is exponentially harder than planning a vacation with adults. When I was in my early 20s, an ideal vacation hotspot may be focused around nightlife, trendy new restaurants, and spa services. When you’re traveling with children, nearly all of these prerequisites go out the window and are replaced with tot-friendly requirements. Trendy restaurants have been replaced with quick-bite options that offer chicken nuggets and pasta with butter, and spa services have been overshadowed by proximity to the Disney Parks.
When searching for our next vacation spot, there are five key things we look for. (And you should too):
1. Does the resort have a pool?
I put this at the top of the list because it is actually a make or break activity for our family. When going to Orlando for ten days; I can handle taking the kids to the Disney Parks for two or three days. (Read my blog about must haves for Disney here) Anything more than a couple days is vacation-suicide. It’s a whole day affair, it’s hot, everyone’s hungry and tired, and it’s overstimulating even for adults. Anything more than a couple days is vacation-suicide. I like to have the option of the pool for our family, not only to save money on Park activities, but it’s a great opportunity for our kids to meet other kids. I have to be honest, my child could have just as much fun hanging around the pool all day as she can at Disney - And I really don’t mind being able to soak up some sun poolside for a few days. You should definitely check to see what your resort offers as far as lifejackets, pool towels, and shade - and plan accordingly. I found my daughter life-jacket-type-swimmies, found on Amazon (thanks CiCi) that didn’t take up too much space in our suitcase, and dries pretty quickly.
2. Is it kid-friendly?
For the most part; I have found that a majority of Florida-based hotels, especially in the Disney area, are kid friendly… they have to be. But there have been plenty of places I’ve visited where there are exclusive pools for adults only, OR the clientele is an older market, and kids are not as welcome. It’s important to note which hotels market themselves as family-friendly.
3. Nearby Amenities
Is the area surrounding your hotel filled with activities and amenities for the family? I am a weekly Target shopper, this is no different when I’m on vacation. On our last Florida trip, I found myself at target three different times over the course of a week. There’s always something you've forgotten or didn’t know you needed. I was happy that there were familiar shops nearby; Instead of the standard kitschy souvenir shops that line every block.
4. Is the concierge a true concierge?
Did they have tips on local attractions? Can they point you in the direction of a kid friendly restaurant? Do they know the ins and the outs of the area, and are they willing to share any insider information? So many times I’ve visited a hotel and the front desk has very little information outside of the hotels four walls. A true concierge is your liaison between your hotel stay and the community surrounding it; they should have ample information regarding area activities and attractions for you and your family.
5. Daily Housekeeping
You never know how much space you and your family take up until you’re forced to share a hotel room together. So easily three or four people’s clothes, accessories, toys, snacks, etc. find their way to the common spaces of the hotel room; it’s easy to become overwhelmed in the small space. Some hotel spaces only offer housekeeping at turnover times. When traveling with Littles, that daily housekeeping and exchanging of towels and making up the bed makes all the difference after a long day at the park. (besides mama, you’re on vacation too! Take a break from the laundry for a week, you deserve it!)
While this is not an all-inclusive list, it hits the five main points for our family’s vacation needs. Do you have a family-friendly hotel favorite? Send us an email, we’d love to visit and put it on our list! Happy traveling!