45 Secrets for Fabulous Family Vacations

Stay a While

kids at the beach

Fence me in. The most fun kids have on a trip is often in the hotel pool. But unless it's fenced in, you'll be so worried that you'll never relax or sleep well.

Know where to find a room-and a smile-at the inn. The key to enjoying a hotel visit is to make sure you're welcome as a family. The signs? Family rates, kids' facilities, and minimal use of the words "intimate," "romantic," and "double Jacuzzi" in the promo material.

Childproof first. Because childproofing a hotel room is up to you, bring along outlet covers, a bathtub-faucet cover, and plastic cabinet locks (duct tape makes a very good temporary lock). Parents' safety starter kit, available at Target stores, includes all the essentials.

Nix the minibar. If you've got one in your room, ask that it be emptied. Not only will you have more space for your milk and juice, but you'll save your kids from developing unnecessary expensive habits.

Look locally. Hotel child-care programs aren't always licensed, so if you're staying in one place for more than few days, consider using a local day-care facility. Check Child Care Aware (800-424-2246) for referrals.

Dial a meal. Room service is sometimes well worth the extra cost because you don't have to get dressed or keep everybody awake. But show older kids how it works at your peril.

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