It probably wasn't too long ago when the only person you worried about trashing a hotel room was you. All that changed when you had kids (or started using your own credit card to secure rooms).
The joys of traveling can be less joyous once you have children in tow. Raising children is arguably the toughest and most rewarding thing you can do, but few of your most cherished memories will involve ordering one child to stop leaping bed to bed while the other casually looks for the most inappropriate program available on the hotel-provided cable-television offerings.
It wasn't always like this. Your vacations used to be actual vacations. Now, they consist largely of pushing a stroller, chasing a toddler, or yelling "Stop!" nonstop at a grade-schooler.
In fact, vacations can be even more hectic than normal life, because you're away from your support system. A week at the beach likely means no babysitter, no daycare, no school and, unless you take them, no neighborhood friends or fellow parents to rely on. While it may take a village to raise a child, it's unfortunate that you can't leave the village and still have the villagers watch your kid for a few weeks.
Once he or she gets a little older, it won't be long before one of you comes up with the idea of getting separate hotel rooms on family vacations -- adults in one room, kids in the other.
The idea has lots going for it, starting with peace and quiet. But it has its downsides, too: high cost, safety issues and the near certainty that your kids will do something that could damage themselves or the room.
So, how to choose?
The Pros and Cons of a Separate Hotel Room for the Kids
Like with any other decision, there are two sides to the question of your kids residing in another room. To start, let's take a good look at the advantages:
- The promise of peace and quiet for you. You went on vacation to get away from it all, and what better way is there to do that than to put "it" in a different hotel room?
- Privacy for you and the spouse. There's nothing romantic about the product of a years-past coupling stomping around the hotel room complaining of boredom.
- Some semblance of order and control in your own room and bathroom. Your kids are messy. You didn't raise them to be that way, but they're messy. If they have a separate hotel room, though, their messiness isn't right in front of you -- you only have to face it when you want to.
- Sleep, wonderful sleep. You can enjoy a bedtime of your choosing and sleep in without a restless kid making just enough noise to fully annoy you into a state of angry wakefulness.
And now for the bad news:
- Youthful fears. Separate hotel rooms might not work for younger kids. They may experience separation anxiety, or just get creeped out being all by themselves.
- Something is likely to get broken or damaged. Holes may be put in walls or windows, televisions may be knocked over, and inappropriate objects may be flushed down toilets.
- Hotel staff and other guests may decide they hate your family. The peace and quiet you enjoy may not be shared by the rest of the hotel.
- Older kids may finally get that laboratory they need for youthful experiments. This might be the vacation they learn how to smoke cigarettes or start that trash can fire they've always dreamed of. They may explore every corner of the hotel, strike up a conversation in the hotel lounge or leave the property entirely.
- Money. Getting a separate room for a kid means doubling down on your lodging expenses. Depending on your kids and your mood, it may be worth it.
Questions to Ask When Considering a Kids' Hotel Room
The decision to get your kids their own hotel room could make or break your next vacation (or your bank).
Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding if you should take the leap:
- Do they get scared easily? If so, they probably aren't ready for their own room. Once it's dark and the air-conditioning starts making strange noises, they might be right back in your hotel room -- and good luck getting a refund. But if they're brave campers, it might be time to send them packing.
- Do they generally obey rules or do they rebel as a rule? Do they have a wild streak that requires threats and punishment to curb, or are they pretty good kids who listen well? You don't want to give them more responsibility than they can handle, but you do want to build trust and reward self-control.
- Do their ages and personalities warrant a separate room? When it comes to getting kids their own hotel room, there's no good way to uniformly establish an exact age when it will be appropriate. All kids are different, and they mature at different rates.
- Can you afford it? While your vacation may become something more like a vacation, your lodging expenses are going to balloon.
If your kids are mature enough to have their own hotel room and you can afford it, give it a shot. However, you should definitely book adjoining rooms. This way, you can hear most escapes, as well as sibling-on-sibling murder attempts. You can detect room damage, and a demand for good behavior is just one wall-knock or phone call away (or, if it's serious, a personal door-visit by Mom or Dad).
Booking extra rooms does mean you'll be paying much more at check-out. However, it may just be worth it. Nothing improves a family vacation like putting some extra space between the family on vacation.
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