Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Traveling With Kids Part 3 - Overnight "Have Tos"

We packed in part one. We traveled in part two. The title of this post talks about Overnight "Have Tos", but we still aren't quite ready to head to the hotel! First I'm going to talk about how the Tinkels roll when it comes to overnight stays on the road.

The Preparation

Often when we travel we can go the whole distance in one day. Just as often, however, the distance necessitates us spending the night at a hotel. Yes there is an art to getting ready to stop for the night. Here's a few "Tinkel Tips".
  • We never make hotel arrangements ahead of time. Usually you don't need to. Of course there was that time when the Olympics were going on in Atlanta way back in '96 and we were traveling home to FL from TN with a one month old child, but we won't go there right not. No, usually we have no trouble getting a hotel. Not having a hotel or set stopping place makes it handy if we are having a good day on the road or not.. If we are having a good day then we are probably making good time and can go even further than we thought. If we are having a troublesome day then we may want to stop early. How do we do it? Read point two.
  • Do you remember that we talked yesterday about stopping at those Welcome Centers that you see when you cross over state lines? Well, another thing that we do, other than pick up travel brochures, is pick up some of those Hotel Coupon Guides. You know the ones that I'm talking about. They are usually outside in a newspaper type dispenser. But, instead of having to pop in quarters to get them, they're free! There's usually a red one, a green one, and sometimes even a glossy magazine type one. When we feel that the natives might be getting a little restless, then we start leafing through the coupon books to see what we can find. We look ahead to the hotels located at upcoming exits, and Mom and Dad discuss the options. Once we've decided on a hotel, whichever one is not driving calls on the cell phone and books the room (whatever did we do in the days before cell phones?). There are a few things that we insist upon though.
  • Number one - the hotel has to have an indoor pool. It's amazing how many hotels have indoor pools these days, and the price is not bad. An indoor pool - preferably with an adjacent hot tub - is great for the kids to get all of the jitters out of them after the long ride in the car. The hot tub is great for Mom and Dad to get the jitters out of them after the long ride in the car! Just recently we stayed at a hotel with an indoor water park! It was amazing!
  • Number two - we insist on a couple of safety features - for everyone's sake, but especially our children. The first is that the hotel must have indoor hallways. We've stayed at the outdoor balcony type hallways, but we prefer indoor ones with outside doors that lock so that you can't get in without a room key.
  • Number three - this is a Mom thing but it is worth repeating. We really like having a hotel with a refrigerator in the room. Even if we are just spending the night, a refrigerator is so handy.
  • Number four - also a Mom thing but also worth repeating. We like staying in populated areas. One with more than just one or two motels. It makes it easier to find a place to eat, and it's just plain old safer.
  • Another thing that we usually do is pack an overnight bag, complete with bathing suits of course, so that we don't have to haul in all of our luggage. I really should have included this in my day one post, but forgot so I'll add it here.
Now that we have prepared for the hotel we're ready to arrive.

The Arrival
Everyone has their own routine when they arrive at a hotel. Here's what we do.
  • After check in we have we take a quick peak at the room and take a potty break. Depending on the time, we don't always unload. Instead we look for a place to eat.
  • This is the one meal that we don't scrimp on. We don't eat at expensive places, but we don't eat fast food either. Preferably we try to find a buffet of some type. At buffets they usually have something for everyone. That make it a lot easier for us and usually there is no fussing from the kids. Here's how we find a place.
  • Number One - we keep our eyes open when we drive in to the hotel.
  • Number Two - we ask at the front desk when we get there. They are the experts. They know the area and can sometimes even get us discount coupons.
  • There is one scenario where we don't go out. That's if we get to the hotel at a late hour and the pool will close before we get back. Then, it's unload, go straight to the pool, and check for delivery pizza.
  • After eating and a swim in the pool, it's off to the room. We usually buy no snacks at the hotel, we just use the snacks that we brought or use leftovers from the picnic that we ate for lunch.
Thankfully, usually the kids (and parents) are tired from the drive, more worn out from the swim, and, since our bellys are full, we're "fat and sassy", ready for bed, and will sleep peacefully.

Well, we've packed, traveled, and spent the night. But, wait a minute, we're homeschoolers. Shouldn't there be a lesson in this somehow. Well, there can be. Tomorrow I'm going to talk about homeschooling while you travel. No, I'm not going to talk about doing algebra class in the car. It's going to be a lot more fun than that! Tune back in again tomorrow to find out what the fun's all about!

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  1. Excellent pointers, Tim! I hadn't thought about the hotel coupons at the travel centers.... good tip!

  2. Another hotel tip - make sure to stay where a free breakfast is provided. Most hotels with indoor pools offer this, but we always check. In fact, some hotel chains have started offering free suppers Monday-Thursday (they call them a "manager's reception") consisting of a main dish, veggie, salad, and dessert. We Thornhills are deal-seekers :)

  3. I forgot about the free breakfast's! Thanks for the reminder Renee!

  4. This is great Tim! I am about to embark on a 4 week road trip with my mom and two of my kids. Yes, as a matter of fact, I am insane. Anywho, we have the whole thing planned out and hotels booked so now I am a little worried! LOL