Traveling with Big Kids

People often inquire about our space and accommodations when we travel with our kids. We travel as a family of 5. Not 3 small children but 3 teenagers. 3 very tall, independent teenagers in need of their own space.  I’m actually the shortest in the house, standing at almost 5’6.  But we actually have 4 children. Our oldest son, Keaton, lives in Ohio with his wife and 2 children. They don’t travel with us (due to location)  but I’m hoping that changes soon. So, we actually  used to travel as a party of 6. Majority of the time, it was by mini-van. That drive from Ohio to SC is one that I hope I never have to take again.  When we started traveling, we didn’t stick to a hotel brand. We picked our hotels based on cleanliness, location, price, and space. Now that I think about it, when our kids were very young, we liked the 2-bedroom at Residence Inn. The kids thought it was a little apartment and they loved it. Times have changed. Our needs have changed. And, quite frankly, my level of comfort and need for amenities and upgrades have changed. I blame that on my husband. Although I want to save money when I travel, I’m not going to stay at just any hotel. I’d say cleanliness and location come before anything else. Now, we are a Hilton family. It’s our hotel brand of choice because of all the reward points we accumulate. That’s another post, which is coming soon, but I can teach you so much about frequent flyer miles, flyer status, and hotel honor rewards. American Express even gives me free Uber rides. We’re covered when we travel- planes, trains, automobiles, and even cruise ships.

Photo courtesy of Hilton Hotels

If Corey and I are traveling alone, we look at the Curio Collection, which I love. Many times, they are landmarks converted into hotels. They have such charm and sophistication. The Sam Houston in Houston, TX and The LondonHouse in Chicago, IL are our most recent stays. Whenever we travel with the kids, we’re looking for a Hilton Hotel with suites and adjoining rooms, like Embassy Suites or Doubletree. Our goal is to make sure each one of our kids have their own bed, whether it’s an actual bed or a sleeper sofa. We’ve been lucky enough to get  2-bedroom suite via upgrades but most of the time, we end up with 2 adjoining standard rooms or a suite connected to a standard room.

Photo courtesy of Hilton Hotels

Another question- Do we plan in advance? Sometimes. Our latest trip, which was to Orange Beach, AL was planned 2 days before. Our original plan was the mountains in Tennessee, but I didn’t like the accommodations. As I said, I’m funny that way. Plus, I feel like you can never go wrong with the beach. Even if it’s cold it provides the most amazing views. It was only a 4-hour drive from our house. Not bad but driving is just not my preferred mode of transportation anymore. I also feel like the kids are over it too. Like always, we let the kids help with selecting the hotel. They had to choose between The Lodge at Gulf State Park (Hilton) and Island House Hotel (DoubleTree). This is the part of the travel that gives me a headache. Do you know how hard it is to make 5 people happy?  I wanted to stay at The Lodge. It’s a new, beautiful hotel described as an oasis. That sounds like my kind of place. The renderings looked amazing. The kids said it would be boring. Since it’s located in a state park, they wouldn’t be able to walk to any stores. Like I said, they are independent. My girls, ages 13 and 16, call their walks “adventures”. I’m too afraid to ask. I have to admit that I really enjoyed our stay at Island House Hotel-DoubleTree. We got a corner king with an adjoining room with 2 queen beds. The corner king had 4 windows and all had ocean views. Both rooms were beachfront with balconies. Actually, all of their rooms are. Both rooms also had a microwave and fridge. If you know me, you know that I like to keep my hotel room stocked with snacks, especially with the kids. Shhhh…. Don’t tell them but when it’s just Corey and I, we order room service.  The hotel was well-maintained. The staff was accommodating when we requested another bed. The breakfast was awesome as well. And, being Hilton Honors Diamond, that daily $105 family breakfast was FREE each morning of our stay. Want to see our room. Guess what? You can. We started a Youtube Channel and our first travel video is of Room 601 and 602 of Island House Hotel-Doubletree. Check it out. There is more to come. I promise.

So, what’s next for us. Hmmm, not much as a family in the near future but that can change at any moment. We traveled to NYC for Christmas last year but we’re staying home this year. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but it looks like we’re going to have house guests. That’s going to be fun.  We’re considering Disney for NYE but right now, it’s just a thought. Bryson, our 2nd son is graduating next year and we’re taking a family cruise in celebration of that. We’re cruising on Symphony of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world. The kids have never been on a cruise before. I’m so excited for them but nervous for Bryson because he tends to get motion sickness. Just because we’re cruising doesn’t mean our accommodations change. They still need their own space and so do we.  Corey and I have our own stateroom. The girls have their own and Bryson is sharing a stateroom with his cousin. As nice as those multi-bedroom/luxury suites are on the ship, that price point is just not possible. Believe it or not, it’s cheaper to purchase 3 staterooms. We booked early and got an amazing deal. Our plans are to fly to Miami a day or 2 before and stay a day or 2 after the cruise. As always, we’re on our go-to airline- Delta. Corey’s status gets us upgrades. Yes, we are those parents. Corey and I sit in first class while the kids are in the main cabin, aka COACH. Guess what? They don’t feel bad about it. They just appreciate the travel. So, the next time you can’t decide on whether to take your kids or not, just take them. I promise that with the right planning, it’s not that difficult and actually affordable.

Random pics from some of our travels:


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