10 Great Tips For Fun, Easy Family Trave
10 Great Tips For Fun, Easy Family Travel
Annie Fitzsimmons ,
I write about hotels and the world that surrounds them
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Expert advice can be hard to come by when it comes to family travel. Many families travel at least once a year for holidays or annual vacations and have their own ways to survive and hopefully thrive. But for expert advice, I turned to Elizabeth Thorp, founder of Poshbrood.com, a swanky travel website and curated catalog focusing on family-friendly, mom-tested accommodations. Poshbrood also offers celebrity interviews and deals and is a Virtuoso affiliate, the luxury travel advisor consortium.
“WORD OF MOM”
Thorp has a 20-year background in public affairs and communications in Washington, D.C., but has also been a freelance travel writer for 12 years. How did Poshbrood start? She actually travels, and often, with her Bethesda-based family of three daughters and husband. “Along the way, I had amassed a giant folder of fantastic family hotels, resorts and villas. Some savvy girlfriends suggested corralling the family travel findings in one since a lot of the really good places are found through “word of mom,” she says. This turned into what Poshbrood is today, and is constantly evolving.
Elizabeth Thorp, Founder of Poshbrood, with her family
Thorp tells us her tried and true tips for easier family travel.
- Know That Traveling With Babies Is Easy:For holidays, Thorp has traveled with her daughters when they were as young as 3 weeks. “Honestly, it’s easier when they’re little babies. They just eat and sleep. If their ears hurt, nursing them, a pacifier or bottle will alleviate the pressure. When they’re toddlers is the toughest, they want to move, can’t sit still and have strong opinions. It’s manageable but you have to be prepared with iPods, iPhones, iPads, snacks, games, books and more, and teach them what’s appropriate and not on an airplane. In my experience, behind a naughty kid on a plane is a disengaged or ill-prepared parent.”
- Realize What’s Most Important – The Memories:A recent trip to Paris and the Dordogne has Thorp’s daughters still talking. “The girls have been fixated on the Eiffel Tower and the city where “Madeline” lives. I think it’s a wonderful place for families with so many parks, attractions and museums to discover. As for the Dordogne, I can’t imagine anything better than staying in a medieval chateau, walking to the boulangerie for croissants in the morning, sweet medieval fairy tale villages tucked into ancient cliffs around every corner, outdoor markets, biking, horseback riding and prehistoric caves? It’s economically viable for families because there are self catering farmhouses, villas and chateaux for every budget. It was a dream come true, we all want to go back as soon as possible.”
Thorp’s Family in France
- Use New Tech To Save Money:Thorp loves Flightfox, a platform for crowdsourced (or human-powered) flight search, where contests last for 3 days. “First, you start a contest by providing your trip details and committing a finder’s fee. Flight experts compete to find you the best flights and cheapest deals. Lastly, you choose a winner, follow their booking instructions, and save a lot of money. I used them for our France tickets and they were able to see the cheaper routes. All 5 of us flew round-trip for $4,000.”
- Using A Travel Agent Saves Money:Being a travel agent herself, Thorp is biased of course, but she says you ultimately always save money when you use a travel agent, and states that an agent with the right relationships will be able to negotiate the best room rates, upgrades, and additional amenities like free daily breakfast for two and a $100 resort credit. Hotels pay travel advisors commission so there’s only a fee, agreed upon upfront, if a trip is very complicated.
- Know The Best Hotel Brands For Families:Thorp prefers Four Seasons, Trump, Omni, and Kimpton Hotels for traveling with families. “All of the Four Seasons hotels offer kid-friendly amenities, menus, robes, and welcome packets, as well as complimentary Kids For All Seasons programs. The Trump Kids Program is very cute, they give little guests ‘calling cards’ with their name on it at check in. Omni Hotels are a wonderful mid-range option and the Omni Sensational Kids program gives kids a backpack filled with fun items designed specifically for them upon check in and milk and cookies at turn down. Kimpton Hotels are well-priced boutique hotels that are both kid and pet-friendly. We recently stayed at the Hotel Monaco in Alexandria and when our youngest got sick, they quickly procured a thermometer and baby ibuprofen for her,” she says.
- Purchase Day Passes To Airline Lounges:“You can stay out of the hussle and bussle of the airport, get extra assistance, be productive or relax in the quieter atmosphere,” Thorp says. Lounges have free WiFi, TV’s, snacks, and drinks, and some have children’s playrooms.
- New or Forgotten Toys Are Sanity Savers: Thorp will often go into her daughters’ playroom and find toys they may have forgotten about to bring out while traveling. She also recommends filling a backpack with crayons, coloring books, toys, and snacks and to hold onto a new or special item until you are airborne.
- Pack Light:This is hard to do with kids, but is especially important with your carry-on’s so you’re not lugging heavy bags
through the airport. Don’t forget healthy snacks and a few treats for your children.
- Don’t Forget About You:An avid reader, Thorp always brings books and reading material with her. She just finished “Bring Up The Bodies” by Hilary Mantel and is halfway through “Shadow of the Night” by Debra Harkness. “Can you tell I love historical fiction and paranormal romance?”
- Travel Without Your Kids:Thorp recently returned from a kid-free trip to Iceland with her husband, which found them exploring thermal pools, the Viking culture, and romantic moonscapes of the island. As she says, “Everyone needs an adult getaway now and then! We do a lot of texting with photos, try to Skype and are now experimenting with FaceTime to keep in touch. Our nanny is also great about texting me updates and photos with voice notes from the girls. I love that.”