Making the Most of Your Family Trip with Upgrades
By Carmen Sognonvi
When planning your next family vacation, consider making a few small changes to drastically enhance your experience. I’m talking about upgrades, and while they can sometimes add up, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy them (and in some cases, upgrading in advance saves you money in the long run). Here are my must-have upgrades for any family vacation. What would you add to the list?
Better Class in Room and Flight
Upgrade your room. You may be tempted to save money by squeezing into a standard room (And if your choice is a standard room or no travel at all, take the standard room!), but if you have wiggle room, upgrade! It’s really great to be able to have a little bit of separation between you and the kids, especially at bedtime. We like the one bedroom suite option because we can put the girls to bed earlier. Believe it or not, they actually like to have some space from us just as much as we like the space from them. Extended stay hotels are a great option, too, because they provide full kitchens and homier atmosphere.
Upgrade your flight. Book the best class flight that you can afford. If you can’t splurge on business or first class, take advantage of premium economy that a lot of airlines are now offering. You’ll get more legroom, food, and even often alcohol. You’ll get to board earlier, which means you’ll have an easier time stowing your carry-on luggage without a line of people breathing down your neck!
Security and Time
Upgrade your security experience. Buy a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership to cut down on the amount of time you spend in the security line. These memberships essentially pre-authorize is you as a trusted traveler. You’ll join a shorter security line at the airport, you won’t have to take off your shoes, and you won’t have to take out your laptop and liquids.
Buy some time. When you’re traveling with kids, plan for childcare so that you can get some time to yourself. If you’re staying at a resort, there will probably be some sort of kid’s club, where they have structured activities specifically meant to entertain the kids. There are typically toys, video games, or a special playground. If you’re staying somewhere without a kid’s club, you can actually hire a babysitter. A lot of agencies now specialize in providing a vacation babysitter to traveling families. Sitters in a Second is a network that serves Florida markets, for example.
Club Level and Lounging
Book a club level room. Certain floors of hotels are essentially business class versus coach. Different hotels have different names for these floors, but they generally offer benefits like a private lounge that serves food all day long. No need to shell out big bucks at a restaurant or on room service! Other amenities can include things like free shuttle service, so you don’t have to pay for cabs, and free clothes pressing. Often there’s also a private concierge who can help you organize activities and tours.
Get access to an airport lounge. Skip the noisy terminal and take the kids to a less stimulating environment to wait for your flight: the airport lounge. Sometimes there are even separate kids rooms equipped with toys and games. Access comes with first class tickets, but you can also buy a day pass or gain access as a perk for being a holder of specific credit cards.