Posted by: Gideon | September 30, 2010

Independent Family Travel – does prebooking hotels make sense?

Ever since I started travelling with kids I have felt that it is necessary to prebook our accommodation. The negative is that this takes away most of the spontaneity of travel – one can’t really make a split second decision to change an itinerary if one has a booked hotel waiting. Or maybe one can, if no deposit or credit card was required. On the other hand, after a long day’s travel (or night) with little kids, all one wants is to be able to head directly to a room that is waiting for you – you don’t really feel like exploring, looking at the various options, bargaining prices, when you have a five-year old screaming that he wants to take a nap or whatever. So, I prebook. This is especially necessary in high season, local school holidays, weekends etc.

The risk of course, is that the accommodation doesn’t live up to expectations. I usually keep my expectations pretty low – I’m just that way. So I do as much research as I can – blogs, Tripadvisor, guidebooks, websites, and make decisions based on all of these. What I have learned is that in well touristed spots, this works pretty well. The internet is an incredible resource. But when you are way off the beaten track and/or the available sources are minimal or non-existent, then many times its guesswork or one is basing oneself on perhaps a single recommendation etc. Another problem is that guidebooks especially become outdated, sometimes amazingly quickly. A hotel recommended in the latest edition may already have closed – research for these guides is often done a year or more in advance of publishing.

So it happened that in both Safranbolu and in Amasya we came unstuck – at least the rooms were waiting for us, and that is a super important. I hadn’t figured on the lack of cooling to be such a problem – but wth temperatures in the high 30’s (Celsius), it really was. One can always leave – and this is why I found myself walking around Amasya before breakfast looking for new accommodation for us.

To summarise – is prebooking necessary. The answer is of course not – one can do anything on the fly – but with small kids, I’d say yes, it is. Even if your kids are great travelers, travel still takes a lot out of us. And we always want a bed to collapse onto, kids more than anyone.

PS These days I am planning great family trips to destinations on five continents. For more info click here.

it's been a long day!

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