Finding the right home away from home for family of 5 vacations can be a bit confusing. Technically we call it family of 5 but if you have 3, 4 or more kids, your family doesn't "fit" into a "normal" hotel room or cruise cabin.
That's ok...who likes being normal right and you know what they say, the more the merrier. No doubt if you have three or more kids have have tried doing some vacation planning on your own it's easy to feel a bit confused and frustrated. Often novice travelers don't know all the types of accommodations or options that are available for them out there.
Vacationkids thought it might be a good idea to let families know what types of accommdations are available to them. Here are a list of definitions to help sort things out...
EP HOTELS - The EP stands for European Plan. Generally this means you're just paying for the price of your hotel room. If you're lucky, you'll get a contienental breakfast as part of the deal (coffee, tea, breakfast pastries or cereal). Guests pay separately for ammenities like meal, drinks, tips, etc. Most hotels in the U.S. are considered to be EP Hotels.
AI Resorts - These are ALL INCLUSIVE resorts and they are just want the name implies. The price you pay at these resorts INCLUDES your room, all your family's meals, drinks (alcoholic and non), resort entertainment, taxes, tips and roundtrip airport transportation. Normally you'll find these types of resorts through out the Caribbean and Mexico. Everyone will need passports to travel to these destinations. At first glance, an all inclusive resort may seem very expensive "on paper" compared to the price of an EP Hotel. This is because when budgeting for a family vacation, most folks look at big ticket items like flights and hotel room and completely UNDER estimate the cost of food, drinks and fun. The reality doesn't set in until the month after they return home and their credit card bill arrives in their mailbox. With an all inclusive resort, parents will pretty much know the cost of their vacation up front without any dreaded surprises. Best news is there are lots of great all inclusive resorts that will allow three or more kids to share the same room with their parents.
GUARANTEED ADJOINING ROOMS - Most parents don't realize if they book two hotel rooms for their big family this doesn't mean they will be near to one another. Travel agents and guests can "REQUEST" rooms connect with a door but this is not a guarantee. It depends on many different factors like availability, architecture and what kind of mood the front desk manager is in when you arrive. Some EP and All inclusive resorts offer "guaranteed adjoining rooms". This is a specific upgraded room category which comes with a higher price tag. This means the two rooms you book are GUARANTEED to be located right next to one another and adjoined by a door. Normally this is a king bed room for parents connected by a door to another rooms with two double beds for the kids.
FAMILY VILLAS -All the comforts of home in an exotic location great for large families or family groups traveling together. Villas can be part of an EP or All inclusive resort complex or they can be stand alone homes. Depending on your vacation style and budget, you can opt do to cooking and housekeeping yourself or villas can be staffed so that your family can completely relax.
FAMILY CRUISES - Many family cruise lines offer cabins that will allow 3, 4 or more kids to share with their parents. Most ships offer even more architectural options for GUARANTEED ADJOINING CABINS. This means they ships are built with more connecting cabins than there are hotels with doors connecting rooms. Cruises are a great option for families with teens because they charge by the number of passengers sharing the same cabin, not by passengers ages.