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No Need to Forgo Hip or Charm
No Need to Forgo Hip or Charm

Ngala Private Game Reserve


Photo by CCAfrica

Out of guilt or a need to maximize the amount of time we spend with our children, we have convinced ourselves for years that a family vacation requires sacrificing the interests of the parents to satisfy the needs of the kids. Thus whether traveling half way around the world or driving a mere two hours from home many of us are heading to the same location: family vacation resorts.

This need not be the rule. Many independent hotels and lodges have discovered how to make an adult environment work for kids and may be more child welcoming than those that bill themselves as kid friendly.

Not surprisingly, small hotels, inns and lodges - many of them luxurious, hip and charming - are leading the pack. The atmosphere is cozy and the service, more personalized. In addition, your family will probably get more exposure to the local culture, not to mention cuisine, in a small hotel than is possible in a big international hotel.

Children profit most. Many cultures embrace kids. Thus a large part of the experience in countries such as Argentina and Turkey is the interaction with the locals. Exploring other cultures provides children with a unique education; it broadens their horizon and helps them to learn more about life.

Things to keep in mind
  • Small hotels may not offer round-the-clock service or traditional in-room services - minibar, tv and video games - but they are likely to be more spontaneous, warm your baby's bottle with a smile and offer your child a dish that is not on the menu.
  • Children's meals may mean that kids are not allowed in the dinning room. Aside from providing parents with a reprieve, kids-only meals usually offer food they like and provide them with an opportunity to dine with other children.
  • No kids clubs. Relax. While it may take a day or two and a bit parental encouragement, kids will quickly discover how easy it is to make new friends and create fun.
  • If the environment is relaxed, children will be relaxed as well.
  • In a small hotel, you are likely to feel comfortable allowing your kids to explore on their own.
Rules of thumb
  • Review the travel accommodation's website. Find out if it belongs to a local or an international association. Is it recommended by your travel agent or a leading tour operator? Has it been rated?
  • If the website does not mention children, they may not be welcome. A telephone call or email will avoid unwanted surprises.
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Travel Trivia
Which of the following are descendents of the Anasazi: