Making Family Travel (Almost) Painless

By Maria Smith

Anyone who has children knows that traveling with kids is always a bit of a crapshoot. It can be anywhere from challenging to downright painful.

But the trials of family travel do not have to keep parents home for 18 years or reduce them to parents-only getaways when Grandma and Grandpa can watch the kids.

Traveling with children of any age can be difficult, but it can also be fun, surprising, and will create memories to last a lifetime.

To make things go a little smoother and to travel smarter, here are some tried and true tips for making family travel (almost) painless.

1. Choose a child-friendly resort. This does not mean parents with children are relegated to theme park lodging and cheesy cartoon-themed hotels. It just means one needs to do their research prior to the trip and know beforehand what is best for them in their chosen location.

Many resorts, even those one might not associate with families, have become quite family-friendly.

The luxurious resort, The Breakers Palm Beach may be known for its amazing golf greens, but parents rave about the "dine and play" concept at the hotel's Italian Restaurant. Here, parents being able to eat a nice meal while their children play in a supervised play area is priceless.

Also look for kids-eat-free programs, on-site playgrounds or play areas, family-friendly activities, and suitable hotel accomodations to make one's hotel room a true home away from home.

2. Spring for a suite. Many families may not think they can afford a suite or connecting rooms, but when traveling with kids, especially when there are two or more, families might not be able to afford to not have a suite.

Letting the kids crash on a pullout couch at 9 p.m. means the parents can do whatever parents do behind closed doors (like shower and eat leftover chocolate cake) in peace. Letting everyone get some much needed sleep and simple downtime after a long day is a necessity for most families.

When booking a room, be sure to inquire about an upgrade to a suite or ask for a discount for reserving two connecting rooms. It might not be as much as one would think!

3. Make use of technology. From researching destinations to giving children something to do once they get there, today's newest technologies like iPads and other tablets, can be lifesavers.

Use the GPS when lost or perhaps to find the nearest Chick-fil-A. Games come in handy during long car trips or flights. And if one's destination, hotel, or experience leaves much to be desired, turn on the Wi-Fi and find a new plan.

Traveling with kids can be tough but it is worth it in the end. Just prepare, have a plan, and remember, kids are only kids once. Enjoy it.

Sources: Web. 2 April 2012. "Family Brochure". Web. 2 April 2012. "Can kids travel?"

Edited by Jody Smith