As someone who spends her days planning vacations for people, I have found that many places are designed for families up to 4 people. Hotels are generally 2 beds, Cruise state rooms fit up to 4 people, you get the idea! Given that my family is 5 (my husband, our 3 boys and myself), I thought I would take some time to consider how a family of 5 or 6 or possibly more could travel together in the most efficient way.
Back when we would drive south with my parents, I can remember 2 out of the 4 of us were delegated to a sleeping bag on an air mattress or a line of pillows in the 2 bed hotel rooms. Hey, we were kids on an adventure, we didn’t care! Now a days I have to research our destinations and the plans to get to our destination more thoroughly to see how we can be accommodated. While I have lots of different trips to share, I thought I would focus on a recent trip that we did. We chose to drive from the Niagara Region in Ontario Canada to Orlando. We would be staying over at 2 hotels on the way, a night at a Disney Resort and then on to a cruise with Royal Caribbean.
We chose to get a head start in our driving and left on a Friday night and made 2 overnight stops so that when we arrived at our Disney Resort, we could spend some time there. The first evening we spent at the Comfort Suites Bridgeport – Clarksburg. It’s a place we had stayed before when driving to South Carolina, and thought it was a perfect place to check out again. What we like as a family is that it is quick off the highway, has an indoor pool (hard to find once you cross a certain point) and decent hot breakfast. The room we booked offered 2 Queen beds and a pull-out couch bed. Guess which bed the boys fought for! This room allowed us all to have our own space and beds to lay our heads on. This hotel was clean and located in a quiet area. We will absolutely stay here again if ever our travels lead us to that area.
Our second night stay was at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Jacksonville Airport. Spring Hill Suites falls under the Marriot brand, and I’m quickly noticing how well this brand could work for a larger family’s needs. This room also had 2 Queen beds, and a couch/bed, that also offered a trundle under it. 6 people could sleep in that room fairly comfortably. The breakfast was great, lots of fresh fruit, and the staff there even packed us up a little to go bag of water, apples and a few other snacks! What a nice touch!
The next day we had a quick 3-hour drive to the Walt Disney World Resort. This time around we chose to splurge at a deluxe property, and Disney’s ContemporaryResort was the way to go! We wanted to be close to Magic Kingdom that evening as we were attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. We reserved a Garden Wing – Standard View room that was in a separate wing behind the main building. Let me tell you…BEAUTIFUL views! We watched the boats run behind us yet it was a quick easy walk to the pool. The room itself was very spacious and we were thankful to be not tripping over each other! Like most of the deluxe resorts, it offered luxurious, soft Queen-sized beds (so nice to fall into after a busy night), and also had a great day bed/couch perfect for our tall pre-teen. The bathroom area was also very large, with double sinks (yeah for lots of people brushing teeth at once) and even a separate water closet (toilet). Lots of closet storage that we didn’t have to use on our one-night stay, and a lovely little coffee center built in as well. We felt spoiled and would stay here again in heartbeat!
Lastly, we arrived in Port Canaveral to take a short 4-night cruise with Royal Caribbean on the Enchantment of the Seas. Originally, we had booked on the Majesty of the Seas and we registered one of our children in a friend’s stateroom so we could choose rooms of 4 next to each other. When our ship was re positioned we were assigned to the Enchantment, and when I called into choose our stateroom, a category 1B Spacious Ocean View Balcony, we found out that it could fit 5! We had one larger King bed (the twins pushed together), a Sofa bed for 2 and then Pullman for the last kiddo. Was it as spacious as our hotel rooms? Not quite. Since we only slept there (and the oldest boy crept into the Pullman at night on his own after Teen Club Curfew hit) we didn’t mind a bit and I would say having a balcony gave us some extra sitting space too. Royal Caribbean often offers a Kids Sail Free promotion, being able to all be in a room together saved us quite a bit (almost ½ off the original price).
I hope this write up gives hope for you larger families to be able to travel together without always having to go a double room route!
Carolyn de Blieck
Carolyn was born and raised in the Niagara area in Ontario and worked in many hospitality venues over the years. She is a former Disney Cast Member and lifelong Disney fan. Her life revolves around her family, her husband Maurice and their 3 sons Ethan, Aaron and Gavin.