Traveling with a toddler can be an adventure. My son was unbelievably well-behaved on our flight up to Myrtle Beach this summer; he read his books, had a snack and sat back contentedly. On the way back? Epic meltdown. That's just the way it goes; I don't care what any parenting guru says, sometimes a 2-year-old isn't going to be all smiles at 30,000 feet, and there's not a whole lot you can do about it.
Where you stay, on the other hand, is something you can control. When our son was about 18 months old, our family checked into in a hip -- dare I say, sexy -- hotel in New York City. It's a great place for adults, with a sleek bar and modern decor. But the room was so small, we couldn't even open our son's playpen. The front desk was kind enough to upgrade us to a bigger room, but the lesson was learned: wherever we stay, it has be kid-friendly. And I firmly believe that the most kid-friendly option is generally not a hotel, but a condo rental.
For example, this condo in Fort Myers Beach
is a great deal for families.
These condos have screened porches, which is a huge selling point for me, because I'm irrationally worried about my son falling off a balcony. Plus each condo has a full kitchen, which means less eating out; of course, this is a great way to save money (and sanity, if you can avoid taking your child to a restaurant). And unlike many hotels, parking is free and the accommodations are very spacious.
We recently stayed in a gargantuan three-bedroom unit in Orlando
. It provided plenty of room for our son to run around, and it was immaculately clean, with new carpet, new furniture and a really nice kitchen. Plus my son had so much fun in the resort's pool and splash pad, we couldn't tear him away from it on the first day of our stay, so we skipped a planned excursion to Sea World. Meanwhile, his mom and I relaxed poolside, sipped mojitos and delayed our battle with the theme park crowds until the next day.
Something to be aware of, though, is that you probably won't have maids cleaning your condo every day. At the resort in Orlando, they charge a flat $65 fee (regardless of length of stay) on top of the nightly rate for a one-time cleaning of the condo after checkout. So when staying at a condo, you might have to take out your own trash, make your own beds, wash your own dishes and so on. Want fresh towels? You might need to pick those up at the front desk. But I think the positives of condo stays far outweigh those minor drawbacks, making it possible for parents to truly relax while on vacation.