Co-organizer of fun for the Samoset Kids Club Rick Bagnall, dad of two, dishes out advice on traveling with little ones, from what to pack to hotel amenities that should direct your booking decisions.
Tour It First
“Even before we consider booking a stay somewhere, we take a tour,” says Bagnall, though it can be a virtual one if distance or inclement weather are factors. He suggests showing young children resort pictures before booking. “It’s a great segue to discuss how children should behave in public spaces and talk about what they can and can’t do at, say, the pool.” If a resort is close enough, take a day trip to get acquainted with the property.
Try It Second
Before making a weekend commitment, book a room for a close-to-home overnight test run. With small children, things happen – kids get bored, sick, or even just restless. “If something comes up, you might be out of a lot of money or travel time,” says Bagnall.
Call the Concierge
Resort websites are great, but the concierge desk can answer often questions more quickly. Set aside a half hour to chat with staff before leaving home, as it’s the best way to plan area and on-site activities in both warm and cold months that appeal to the whole family. You’ll be surprised to learn some resorts are walking distance from children’s museums and playgrounds. And if Mom and Dad want to explore more adult-focused activities, like an afternoon round of golf or spa time, see if the resort has on-site child care or children’s programming (The Samoset has both).
“If you’re traveling with kids, make it as comfortable as possible for them. The kids want to have a good time, as well. I’m a big believer that when you have kids, the vacations don’t have to stop.”
Make A Backup Plan for Rainy or Snowy Weather
While the Samoset has Wii and other Nintendo gaming systems free to use, which might appeal to older teens, they also have indoor playsets, foam building blocks, and an indoor pool perfect for families with small children. “You don’t want to be stuck in your guest room. You always want to have a backup plan,” says Bagnall. This is one thing to discuss with the concierge prior to your stay so you’re not scrambling for an idea mid-storm, though at the Samoset, you may want to take the little ones out to ice skate and enjoy a bonfire if it’s snowing.
Pack the Necessities
Bring more than one outfit a day for the kids, plus bathing suits, sunscreen, and seasonally appropriate outdoor wear. Seems simple enough, but Bagnall can’t count the number of times he has heard parents say they didn’t realize a resort had a pool. And while some resorts have washers and dryers on-site (like in the time-share units at The Samoset), most will only have dry-cleaning services, so pack extra outfits.
Family-Friendly Opal Fun
The free on-site Kids Club (ages 4 to 12) is packed with activities from arts and crafts to volleyball and disc golf. Return in the evening with the entire family for s’mores, ice cream socials, or putting contests.
The Sagamore Kids Club for ages 4 to 12 acts as a summer camp for visiting families, with nature hikes, scavenger hunts, and educational programs about Maine mythology. Need some adult time on resort for a spa getaway? The front desk can arrange a sitter in any season.
Designed for children 5 to 10, Camp Ridley takes children on scavenger hunts and nature walks to explore area wildlife. The resort is also just a five-minute drive from the Clearwater Aquarium, where families can meet the famed Winter the dolphin, star of Dolphin Tale.
In-room kitchenettes save families the hassle of corralling little ones who aren’t in the mood for a sit-down dinner, and an on-site family pool means parents can relax a bit if playful children get a little loud. There is an adults-only pool on resort, as well.
Camp Loggerhead (ages 5 to 12) offers morning, afternoon, and full-day sessions year-round that are full of kickball, baseball, crafts, and on-property excursions.