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oct 15 2007

7 travel tips for large families

Many of you responded to the earlier blog post on how to families of five or more members can find affordable lodging on the road. (See "Motel Confessions.")

Joyce Carlin, a reader who used to work at a hotel chain, offers the following tips

If the front-desk clerk says that their property only allows four persons to a room, offer to rent a roll-a-way cot (usually for a fee of under $20) in exchange for letting your family slip in under the radar.

If the front-desk clerk is a stickler, ask if he or she can offer a manager's discount off the second room. Or ask for some local travel discount coupons, which may amount to the same thing. "This could be a savings of at least $60."

Joyce warns, though, that the above strategies might not work on Friday and Saturday arrivals in peak travel season unless you call ahead and reserve the room and cot. You would leave it until your arrival to announce that you'll have more than four persons in your party. Adds Joyce:

"Friday and Saturday nights during May through October are usually booked up and it is difficult to extend special arrangements UNLESS you book ahead. We front-desk clerks were told by our bosses that we could only accept coupons if we were not 80 percent full. Also: Arrive before 4p.m. and you will have a better chance of using your coupons."

Mo, a parent, offers a pair of tips of her own:

Pack a twin size air mattress for the youngest. Some chains allow a roll-away bed but these are not guaranteed to be available.

In European hotels, ask for a "family suite." It is better to divide such a suite since the standard rooms are so small it is impractical to fit 5 where barely 3 can fit.

Ms. Ogden, another reader, offers this tip:

Try independent [instead of big chain] hotels because they sometimes have an odd shape room with an extra third bed. If we are flying to a location, I call or email in advance to ask if they have a "family room".

Kara O'Neal recommends vacation rentals, cabins, cottages...

We can usually find very nice ones for about the price of two hotel rooms, and instead of cruddy chain style amenities, these places are usually gorgeous! A lot more bang for your buck! It takes a little more hunting on the internet, but I've found wonderful places all over the country, even in the heart of large cities to cottages on the ocean, to cabins in the mountains. The only time my large family stays in a normal hotel anymore is when we need a one-night stay by the airport!

Another reader, Bob, had a plea to other families of five (or more):

"Only patronize those that cater to us family of fivers! Lost revenue is a great motivator for change."

EARLIER: Lodging tips for families with kids traveling to Europe.

RELATED: Kid-friendly lodging.

Get Inspired with more from BudgetTravel.com


Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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