Finding decent lodging for a large family is not impossible!
As far as large family travel goes, finding lodging is a major concern. If you have been following along, you will remember that we started traveling back when we had nine children, the oldest 14, and we continued to travel even after we had our 14th child, so finding lodging is definitely “do-able”!
Condos and houses are probably the best places for a large family to “park.”
These often sleep 8-14, usually are fully equipped with bedding and all kitchen appliances, dishes, and pots and pans, and sometimes include access to game rooms, pools, even work-out equipment ( we stayed in a few with a washer and a dryer).
Depending on where you are going, the time of year, and how far ahead you book, these types of lodging can be quite economical, no more than the price of two rooms in a regular hotel, in fact, but with many more perqs!
For one thing, there is much more privacy. For another thing, the fully-equipped kitchen means you could economize by cooking regular, frugal meals for your family (eliminating the need for eating out). For still another thing, there is more space and more things to do to keep the family from coming down with the wiggly-screams!
Make sure and nail-down exactly is what included in the house or condo so that you will know how to plan. For instance, don’t assume that bedding is included, or even pot vessels. You may want to make sure you have access to the clubhouse if you are renting a condo.
Hotels with a free breakfast and a kitchenette (and don’t forget the pool!) are probably the next best.
The free breakfast is such a treat, and then the kitchenette helps save money on food during your stay.
Chains offer a lot of predictability and often have a reputation to live up to so they are more concerned with the quality of cleanliness and service. Privately-owned establishments often offer a number of the same amenities, often at a very competitive price, but there is a little more risk as to cleanliness, etc. We stayed at a few of the latter and were sometimes disappointed. Make sure and read reviews carefully before booking at these establishments.
The max occupancy for most hotel rooms is five, and sneaking in extra “guests” is a crime punishable by law! However, if you have a number of very tiny children, don’t be afraid to talk to the manager before making a reservation. You may be surprised how understanding folks can be.
My next favorite has been hotels that offer breakfast and hot foods in the evening, such as pizza, hot dogs, chicken strips, macaroni and cheese, baked potatoes, and broccoli cheddar soup (and don’t forget the pool!).
Drury Inns are the ones that I am thinking of specifically (the kids had a blast–and the pool was great!).
Holiday Inns allow up to four children up to the age of 12 to eat for free in their restaurants (and say that kids stay free– I’m not sure what that means) which we have taken advantage of before, but this can be difficult if you have more than a few children over the age of 12. Not all Holiday Inns are created equal, so check them out before you book–we stayed at a nice one that was pretty decent, and another one that was ancient and the pool was too dirty for my liking!
The last, and least favorite, is the hotel that at least offers a fridge and a microwave, so you can do a little bit of in-room concocting (the pool is still a must!).
If a hotel does not offer at least a fridge and a microwave, you can still “rough it”–it just takes a bit more ingenuity (we’ve stayed at these, too!).
Feeding a crowd on a long trip is the subject of my next set of tricks, so stay tuned!