Tag Archives: Eric Stoen

The Four Seasons Bora Bora is a honeymoon destination, but the pool couldn’t have been more kid-friendly. by Travel Babbo

What Really Makes a Hotel Kid Friendly

Listen up hotels! I’ve stayed at a lot of you, and some of you are definitely more kid-friendly than others. I’ve written before about things that could be improved at specific hotels (the Sonnenalp in Vail, the Mauna Lani in Hawaii and the Four Seasons Bora Bora), but since readers of my Travel Babbo blog have given me feedback as well, I want to create a comprehensive list of everything you need to do in order to be a kid-friendly dream hotel. If you already meet the criteria on this list, please get in touch with me! I really, really want to find the perfect hotels and resorts for families. And if this list does not represent things that you currently do, on behalf of families everywhere, we would love for you to implement them. Without further ado, my dream hotel checklist:

1) Rooms that can accommodate two parents with two, three or four kids. I don’t expect every room to be able to do this, but it would be great if hotels had at least a few rooms designed for families. And if your rooms can accommodate only four people total, please have connecting rooms! It’s not convenient to split up when we’re on vacation together. And it’s really not convenient when we’re given two rooms two floors apart, as happened at the ACHAT Plaza Zum Hirschen in Salzburg.

Mauna Lani hotel in Hawaii by Travel Babbo

At the Mauna Lani in Hawaii. The patio of one of our connecting rooms. Photo: Eric Stoen/Travel Babbo

2) Easy booking for families of five or more. Go to any hotel website and click on Reservations. Now tell me if it’s clear how many people their rooms can sleep. Still looking for a site that provides that information up-front? So am I. On most hotel sites it’s difficult to find out the maximum number of guests per room, but then they expect you to know that figure before searching for reservations. A lot of hotels have at least some rooms/suites that can accommodate five or six people. But when you go to a website like the Grand Wailea‘s and try to get a room for two adults and four children (an option in their drop-down menus), you immediately get an error message stating that no rooms are available and that six guests “may exceed the occupancy limit.” So it’s up to you to guess whether that means that there aren’t any rooms that meet your guest numbers or any rooms available at all. It’s then back to the search screen to try again with multiple rooms and different numbers of adults/kids in each room, now guessing as to how to divide up the family into two rooms.

I would LOVE for hotels to have a note on their booking screens that details the maximum number of people that their rooms can accommodate. As it is, I usually have to search through the room descriptions, and then more often than not I have to email the hotel to see if a “max of four people per room” includes small children. Basically, I want easier booking!

3) A family rate. If you’re going to ask us to split up into two rooms, connecting or not, please offer a discount for the second room. And please, please, please do not tie it to your highest rack rates that are never really charged to guests. I see this all the time. Hotels always have specials: bed and breakfast rates; fourth night free; seasonal promotions. Then sometimes they offer a family rate for a second room, but it’s never a discount off of the other specials. For example, the Four Seasons Bora Bora used to offer a fourth night free (which worked out to 25% off) or a second bungalow at 50% off. But if you chose the 50% off, you no longer received the fourth night free. So while it’s nice that they had a family rate, in actuality it worked out to roughly the same as the other specials, and nowhere near the 50% savings advertised since guests wouldn’t have been paying the full price anyway. (Math: A $1,000 bungalow discounted for a free fourth night, assuming you are staying four nights, means an average nightly rate of $750, or a 25% discount. Two $1,000 rooms for four nights with 50% off the second room means a total charge of $6,000, or, wait for it, $750 a night—the same as the other special. So there’s no real family discount, unless you are staying for a number of nights not divisible by four.)

I get that hotels have an economic incentive to maximize revenue and to only offer one discount per room. But what if you think of it as a marketing expense? If you provide families with better rates, that means happier parents who are more likely to make return visits. And when kids make multiple visits to a hotel growing up (our kids stayed at the Mauna Lani in Hawaii eight straight years), guess where they’re going to want to return with their kids someday?

4) Something at check-in for kids. Colored pencils. Coloring books. Beach balls. Beach toys. Stuffed animals. I’ve seen it all when checking into hotels, and our kids have loved all of it. When they get something at check-in, not only does it give them something to occupy themselves with and enhances the vacation, it also makes them feel welcome and it gives them a connection to the hotel.

St. Regis Aspen hotel by Travel Babbo

Stuffed bears from FAO Schwarz were a huge hit with my kids at the St. Regis Aspen. Photo: Eric Stoen/Travel Babbo

5) Proactive recommendations for kid-friendly things to do. It’s not always easy to find great lists of kid-friendly activities online. I would love to automatically receive a sheet or twofrom a hotel detailing the nearest parks, playgrounds, aquariums, kid museums, kid-friendly cooking classes and other local things that families have rated highly. It wouldn’t require more than a few hours of work from the concierge to create and maintain the list, and it would enhance the visit of every family. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I ask the concierge for ideas of local things to do with kids and the concierge directs me to the hotel’s kids club (yes, this has happened more than once).

My daughter sketching in the travel journal she got at check-in at the Westin Times Square by Travel Babbo

My daughter sketching in the travel journal she got at check-in at the Westin Times Square. Photo: Eric Stoen/Travel Babbo

6) A little extra space in the rooms. Families of young kids may need to set up Pack’n Plays. Most families have extra luggage. And there’s always going to be in-room down time when you don’t want to be crammed into the room with very little extra room. I understand that hotels can’t magically make their rooms larger, and I fully appreciate that historical hotels typically sacrifice space for character. I’m just saying that it’s great to have rooms that are a little more spacious.

7) A kid-friendly pool and hot tub. Obviously this isn’t applicable to all hotels. But if you have a pool and you want to attract families, have a shallow section in the main pool. And have either a separate hot tub for families, or allow kids to use the main hot tub without keeping it way too hot. Basically, look at your pool from the perspective of families and see if it’s somewhere that they would really want to spend a day, and where parents can let their younger kids play in the pool without necessarily being in there with them (but still supervising, of course). And please don’t force us to show armbands or room cards to get towels. At any hotel, big or small, I want to be seen as guests and not as room numbers.

8) A Kids Club that’s open all day with no extra charge. Please don’t make families pay $50–$100 a day, and commit to a whole day, for kids club activities. This is one of my favorite elements of Four Seasons and Rosewood resorts. Kids can get out of the sun and stop in and do crafts, play games or watch a movie when they want, or go on excursions around the hotel with club staff. Our kids usually don’t want to be there for more than an hour or two at a time, and we usually don’t know in advance when they’re going to want to do that, so flexibility on the part of the kids club is a must. Hotels can’t think of kids clubs only as places for parents to check their kids in for a full day; club rooms should also be areas for kids of any age to relax out of the sun for a little while.

Playing complimentary pinball at the Four Seasons Orlando Resort. by Travel Babbo

Playing complimentary pinball at the Four Seasons Orlando Resort. Photo: Eric Stoen/Travel Babbo

9) Easy food options for kids. I love when a hotel has a casual restaurant with a great menu and a (for backup) kids menu. Or if there is a nicer restaurant, have a casual section—maybe outside—for families. It’s great when the kids can run around a little while waiting for dinner to come, and always nice to have an option to pick things up and bring them back to the room if you don’t feel like dining out.

The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs by Travel Babbo

Enjoying wine while the kids run off and play at Ristorante Del Lago at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Photo: Eric Stoen/Travel Babbo

10) An easy/inexpensive laundry option. At a lot of hotels the only laundry option is The List. You know The List—it’s in the closet attached to a plastic or canvas sack, and it indicates that the hotel will wash your pants for only $5 and your socks for only $2. That’s not family-friendly! Kids get dirty. Some hotels provide free washers and dryers, which we took advantage of at the Mauna Lani and Four Seasons Bora Bora this year. Others provide coin-operated machines, which is still fine. I’d love for more hotels to provide access to machines, or at least to have an option to have a load of laundry cleaned for a reasonable price—say $15. And knowing that you’ll have access to laundry at your hotel makes packing that much easier.

The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah in Bali has the most family-friendly laundry service that I’ve seen. The hotel will wash six things a day per person for free. Even when we forgot to place dirty clothes in the laundry bag in the morning, we would find them washed and folded for us that evening. How cool is that?

A kid-sized bicycle at the Sonesta Hilton Head. by Travel Babbo

A kid-sized bicycle at the Sonesta Hilton Head. Photo: Eric Stoen/Travel Babbo

11) Kid-sized things. It’s great when hotels have kid-sized robes for us in the rooms. And it’s also nice to have sinks at a height that’s good for adults but also reachable by kids. At most hotels our five-year-old can reach the sink, even if it’s on tip-toes, to brush her teeth or wash her hands. But we’ve been to some hotels where the kids are forced to (unsafely) turn over trashcans as improvised steps just to reach the sinks.

12) An overall kid-friendly vibe. Last, but not least, I want to feel like our (well-behaved) kids are welcome. You can be the nicest, most formal hotel in the world, and your staff can still treat kids like valued guests and not like potential nuisances. I love when staff members go out of their way to talk to our kids and ask about their vacations, or give suggestions of things to do the next day. This can be housekeepers or managers or pool staff—anyone who comes into contact with the kids. I’ve stayed at large resort hotels where the staff weren’t overly friendly, and at European city hotels where the staff just had great interactions with the kids and which, in turn, made it more fun to return to the hotel in the evenings.

Three kid-sized robes waiting for us at the Rosewood Mayakoba by Travel Babbo

Three kid-sized robes waiting for us at the Rosewood Mayakoba, in perfect lengths for my kids. Photo: Eric Stoen/Travel Babbo

Those are the top twelve things I’m looking for in kid-friendly hotels. What have I missed? What would you include? What hotels have you found that meet all of those criteria?


Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.


Meet our writer

Eric Stoen, the founder of Travel Babbo, travels around the world constantly with his three kids. Wendy met him when he won Condé Nast Traveler’s Dream Trip Contest a few years ago and was so impressed with his travel savvy that she invited him to contribute to WendyPerrin.com.

My kids running to dinner at the Four Seasons Bora Bora.

5 Steps to the Best Family Vacation You’ll Ever Have

Traveling to almost 30 countries with young kids I’ve learned a little something about crafting vacations that the kids love and remember but that are also sophisticated and fun for the adults. Here are five tips for making summer travel gratifying for the entire family:


Our tour of The Marais with Paris Muse.

Our tour of The Marais with Paris Muse. Photo by Eric Stoen/TravelBabbo.com.

1) Book a family-oriented walking tour.

No matter where you’re going, there’s likely a company that offers walking tours through certain neighborhoods or museums. Select one that’s geared toward the kids. Good walking tours are interactive and highly educational, without the kids even realizing how much they’re learning. And given that we parents have forgotten most of the history that we learned in school, they’re great for us too! My family has now done walking tours in Paris, Florence, Athens, Ephesus (Turkey) and Valletta (Malta). I particularly like those we’ve done with Context Travel and Paris Muse. An added benefit: By arranging museum tours in advance, you can generally skip the lines. With our guide from Paris Muse we walked right past an hour-long queue at the Louvre.


My daughter making pici pasta at Boscarecce Cooking School.

My daughter making pici pasta at Boscarecce Cooking School. Photo by Eric Stoen/TravelBabbo.com

2) Consider a cooking class.

What better way to let the kids be creative, teach them life-long skills, and introduce them to local cuisine? Our kids always come home wanting to cook the things that they made abroad, and they’ve become better eaters as well. And how many kids prefer to make their own pasta instead of buying it at the grocery store? Ours do, after we learned to make pasta at Boscarecce Cooking School outside of Florence. We’ve already booked a pita-making class in Greece for this coming summer.


3) Look into day camps.

When we go on a family vacation, we generally don’t look for activities where we can drop off the kids for seven hours at a time. But there are some week-long day camps that are so cool that we’d be excited for our kids to enroll. Arte al Sole has workshops throughout Italy that incorporate art projects (think frescos and mosaics), cooking classes, walking tours, history and even movie-making for kids 6 to 12, and parents can participate in some of the activities (such as museum visits) with their kids. An added benefit is that your kids will make friends from all over the world. If a camp or workshop doesn’t fit your travel schedule, it’s worth asking if they can arrange something that does. When my nine-year-old and I were in Bali in March, we stumbled upon a three-day ceramic camp at Gaya Ceramic that looked like a lot of fun. Gaya doesn’t pre-schedule family-oriented workshops, but they can arrange group or private workshops at a very reasonable cost.


Eric Stoen kids at Rosewood Mayakoba

My kids feeding the fish from our dock at the Rosewood Mayakoba. Photo by Eric Stoen/TravelBabbo.com.

4) Find a hotel that’s both romantic and kid-friendly.

Impossible? Nope. Both Wendy and I have had great stays with our kids at Rosewood Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The hotel has many romantic touches—including private plunge pools, outdoor showers, moonlit restaurants, and a sensuous spa—yet it’s also got a kids’ club, kid-friendly cooking classes, a children’s breakfast buffet, a kid-friendly pool and beach. There’s even a snow cone machine by the pool. Four Seasons resorts also tend to achieve that balance of sophistication and kid-friendliness. Our overwater bungalow at the Four Seasons Bora Bora is one of the most amazing places we’ve stayed, with a spectacular view and a definite honeymoon feel, yet the hotel staff also set up an entire inflatable water playground for our kids, and let us know that they would open up the kids club and plan activities just for us anytime we wanted.


The Torrigiani Gardens, which CIU Travel got us access to.

The Torrigiani Gardens, which CIU Travel got us access to. Photo by Eric Stoen/TravelBabbo.com.

5) Ask Wendy for the right family-friendly travel agent.

Most of the experts on Wendy’s WOW List create trips for families and can suggest (and get you into) unique places that you couldn’t access on your own. Our best vacation ever was two weeks in Florence planned by Maria Gabriella Landers of CIU Travel. We made pasta, pizza, gelato, chocolate, frescoes and books. We went through the normally off-limits Vasari Corridor. We saw a private flag-throwing demonstration in the amazing Torrigiani Gardens. We did kid-friendly visits to all of the major sites and museums. It was literally a perfect trip—and it made our kids love Florence so much that we now go back annually.



Meet our writer

Eric Stoen, the founder of Travel Babbo, travels around the world constantly with his three kids. Wendy met him when he won Condé Nast Traveler’s Dream Trip Contest a few years ago and was so impressed with his travel savvy that she invited him to contribute to WendyPerrin.com.

Eiffel Tower Paris france

10 Tips for a Perfect Family Vacation in Paris

Every summer we take advantage of school holidays and head to new places with our three young kids—26 countries in the past eight years. But we also find ourselves returning again and again to favorite destinations. Paris is one of them. Since November is a perfect time to start planning travel for next summer, it’s also the perfect time to share a few valuable lessons we’ve learned over the course of several trips to the City of Light. These ten tips make our vacations fun for the kids (and adults) and largely stress-free.

Paris Apartment rental

In an apartment we feel like locals. Photo by Eric Stoen.

1. Try a rental instead of a hotel.
We love renting apartments instead of staying in hotels. In an apartment we feel like locals: We have a kitchen—with all the dining flexibility that it brings—and we have far more space than we would in a hotel. Plus, since there are five of us, we would require two hotel rooms, and that becomes expensive. When we spent time in Paris this summer (as part of our six-week trip through Europe), we rented a house through Airbnb, complete with a courtyard, and it was the perfect place to return to after a day of exploring.

Additional tip: We always stay in the 7th arrondissement. It has the markets of Rue Cler as well as the Eiffel Tower, both of which are landmarks that make it really easy to find our way back home from anywhere in the city.

Musee de la Chasse Paris

The Musée de la Chasse is fun and quirky for kids. Photo by Eric Stoen.

2. Search out smaller museums.
The major museums like the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre are absolutely worth visiting (see my next tip), but there’s much more to explore in Paris than just the big-ticket attractions, and you’re missing out if you don’t take the time to suss out the unusual and unique small spots in any city. They are often less crowded, just as interesting (if not more so), and easier to see with kids with naturally shorter attention spans. Two of our favorite small museums are the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature and the Musée Marmottan Monet. The Musée de la Chasse is fun and quirky for kids: There are a lot of interactive animal-related displays in a setting that reminds me of a Wes Anderson film. The Monet Museum lets kids get up close to amazing Impressionist art (without the crowds) and to see Monet’s progression as an artist—something you don’t necessarily see at large museums that focus on major works.

Additional tip: Save the museums for a rainy day. Even when the weather is bad, the smaller museums are rarely crowded.


private tour of the Louvre with Paris Muse

One of the highlights of our summer trip was a private tour of the Louvre with Paris Muse. Photo by Eric Stoen.

3. If you’re going to a major museum, book a kid-friendly private tour.
One of the highlights of our summer trip was a private tour of the Louvre with Paris Muse. Not only did we avoid most of the lines and crowds, but the kids had a great time completing word puzzles and being led on a treasure hunt that included a wide spectrum of Babylonian, Greek, French Medieval, and Italian Renaissance art and antiquities.

Additional tip: There are numerous groups that lead kid-centric private tours, including Paris Muse and Context Travel. Search on TripAdvisor for “Paris Activities” to see tour reviews, or check Wendy’s WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts to find someone who can arrange special activities wherever you’re traveling.

4. Think picnics.
Every summer that we return to Paris, we find ourselves having more and more picnics, both for lunch and dinner. We’re able to sit and enjoy wine while the kids run around and play—and the breads, meats, cheeses and tarts bought from local markets can’t be beat.

Additional tip: Bring a thin linen blanket from home (which, in addition to being perfect for picnics, can be used as a towel or a sarong) and buy disposable plates, cups and utensils at the local supermarché.

5. Walk. A lot.
The Métro is great for reaching farther-afield areas of the city and for giving legs a rest, but the biggest mistake that first-time visitors to Paris make is that they take the Métro from major site to major site and miss out on the neighborhoods and the transitions between arrondissements. There are great parks, churches, cafés, and shops outside of the major tourist areas, and some of our best days have been the ones when we did the most walking.

Additional tip: We like picking a destination in the morning or the night before, taking the Métro there, exploring that area, and then slowly walking back to our apartment in the afternoon, buying things for dinner along the way.

Paris macaron baking class

Whether you’re into pizza, baguettes or pastries, you can find a cooking class for it in Paris. Photo by Eric Stoen.

6. Learn to cook.
We’ve always loved macarons. So this summer we learned how to make them with Cook’n With Class in Montmartre. Our kids were involved in every step, from preparing the dough and fillings to final assembly—and, best of all, they got to take home everything that they made. Whether you’re into pizza, baguettes or pastries, you can find a cooking class for it in Paris. And it doesn’t even take up a whole day—a short course is a perfect morning or afternoon activity.

Additional tip: If you find a class that looks great for your family but is geared to adults, ask the school if they can offer you a kid-friendly version.

7. Become regulars.
On Rue de Grenelle near Champs de Mars there is a little Italian restaurant. We’ve eaten there six times over the past two summers, and every time is better. When they see us they seat us right away. They anticipate the kids’ drinks. They give us extra appetizers, sweets, and after-dinner liquors at no cost. We always get the same waiter and expand on our conversations each time, as much as possible in French. It makes for a much better experience than simply being one-time visitors. The same holds at boulangeries, where the lovely lady behind the counter would anticipate our pain au chocolat order every morning, or at the local fresh fruit market, where they gave us frequent discounts for not-really-noticeable produce blemishes—but only after we had gone there several times.

Additional tip: Always try to speak French. Even if it’s just one or two sentences that you quickly looked up on Google Translate, it gets you a better level of service than walking in and assuming that the staff speaks English.

Luxembourg Gardens carousel in Paris

One of the best carousels for spearing brass rings is at Luxembourg Gardens. Photo by Eric Stoen.

8. Stop at every carousel.
There are a lot of carousels in Paris. Every one is different, and our kids love all of them, so we never say no when we’re passing one. The brass rings are always a highlight because you don’t see them in the U.S. very often anymore. There’s rarely a wait, and it’s a nice chance to relax after a lot of walking.

Additional tip: The best carousels for spearing brass rings are at Luxembourg Gardens (by the playground) and at Champs de Mars park, near the Eiffel Tower.

Jardin d’Acclimatation Paris

My kids love the Jardin d’Acclimatation. Photo by Eric Stoen.

9. Skip the big amusement parks.
Forget Disneyland Paris. Head to the Jardin d’Acclimatation instead. It’s a much more authentically Parisian experience, easier to get to, and a lot less expensive, with a small entry fee and then pay-per-ride attractions. Go early, before the park gets crowded.

Additional tip: Bring swimsuits and towels. Our kids love the water area.

Eiffel Tower Paris at night

My daughter and I have a tradition of walking around the Eiffel Tower area at least one night during our trip. Photo by Eric Stoen.

10. Stay up late.
A few years ago when we landed in Paris, my wife and two of the kids were jet-lagged and went to sleep early, but my oldest daughter and I felt wide awake. So we quietly left the apartment and walked all around the Eiffel Tower, the Champs du Mars, and the Trocadero area for two hours, including several trips around the Trocadero carousel. It was great one-on-one bonding, and we got to see more Parisian nightlife than we usually do. Since then, it’s become a tradition for the two of us: We always head over on our first night, and then once or twice a week after that.

Additional tip: I especially enjoy walking at night after it’s rained. The reflections are magical.


Meet our writer

Eric Stoen, the founder of Travel Babbo, travels around the world constantly with his three kids. Wendy met him when he won Condé Nast Traveler’s Dream Trip Contest a few years ago and was so impressed with his travel savvy that she invited him to contribute to WendyPerrin.com.

Packed luggage for a family vacation

How to Pack for a Family Vacation

Note from Wendy: One of the biggest, saddest obstacles to international travel with kids is the perception that you’ll need to haul around a ton of luggage. It’s a misperception, as Eric Stoen, the founder of Travel Babbo, shows us. Eric is a frequent international traveler whom I met when he won Condé Nast Traveler’s Dream Trip Photography Contest, and he uses many of the same strategies I use when packing for my own family.

This past summer we took a Disney Cruise from Venice to Barcelona and then, with suggestions from the kids (and a little research on TripAdvisor), kept adding on European destinations post-cruise. What started as two weeks in Europe turned into six weeks. Those six weeks included everything from a formal night on the cruise to operas in Salzburg to hiking and swimming, with temperatures ranging from the 90s in Turkey to the 50s in Austria at night. We were still able to pack everything for two adults and three kids (ages 4, 6, and 8) into just two suitcases and two carry-ons. Here are our packing suggestions—based on this trip and many others—and they work just as well for a one-week trip as for a longer vacation:

1. Use packing cubes. In our case, each adult gets two and each kid gets one. These allowed us each to pack enough clothes for four to five days each (which was sufficient, given that we would have laundry access at several points during the trip or could do laundry in hotel sinks and bathtubs when necessary). The cubes have the added benefit of neatly organizing our clothes, which comes in handy when we are in non-connecting hotel rooms and need to place each person’s things in the correct room.


Packed luggage for a family vacation

We packed everything we needed for two adults and three kids (ages 4, 6, and 8) into just two suitcases and two carry-ons. Photograph by Eric Stoen.

2. Pack empty duffels, and be prepared to ship things home. We packed two empty duffels in our suitcases and filled both (with souvenirs and new school clothes for the kids) over the course of the first four weeks. In Austria we bought boxes at the post office, loaded them up, and mailed them home. It was inexpensive, and all of a sudden we had empty duffels again for shopping at our remaining destinations. We always have to bring back several bags of Batticuori cookies from Italy, after all!

3. Limit your colors. It’s often said but bears repeating: Take clothes that mix and match.

4. Forget formality. Hauling around a sport coat for six weeks that you’ll use on only one or two nights doesn’t make sense. My son and I were fine in slacks and button-down shirts for both the “formal” cruise dinners and the operas. The girls found it easy to make a few skirts and dresses fit any occasion.

5. Eliminate shoes that aren’t practical. Does anyone really need more than three pair of shoes on a trip? Each of us brought one pair of comfortable walking shoes, one pair of flip-flops or sandals, and one pair of slightly nicer shoes for dressing up. No heels: If it can’t be worn on cobblestone streets, it wasn’t allowed in the suitcases.

6. Bring kid medicines. We bring an assortment of medical items that may not be easy to locate in foreign cities. Our emergency kit consists of Pepto-Bismol and Tums for kids, Band-Aids, Neosporin, hydrocortisone, and children’s ibuprofen—the chewable pills, not the liquid. Every trip we (unfortunately) need to use most of those items at least once.

7. Don’t forget sun hats and sunscreen. If we forget sun hats, we have to buy them at one of our first stops. It’s not fun being somewhere like Ephesus for hours with no shade.

8. Take a linen blanket. We find ourselves at the beach frequently and often have impromptu picnics in parks. A large, thin linen towel or blanket works for both: It’s a towel for wet kids, or a picnic blanket. It can also double as a skirt/sarong for the occasional church that doesn’t accept visitors in shorts, and it can be used to pack breakable items on the way home.

9. Don’t spurn electronics. Books are great at home, but on the road we rely on lightweight iPods and iPad Minis. They’re lifesavers on airplanes, as well as at long European dinners when it takes 45 minutes to get the check.


boxes shipped home from vacation

Once our extra duffels were filled, we bought boxes at the post office, loaded them up, and mailed that stuff home. Photograph by Eric Stoen.

10. Remember packing and repair supplies. We bring a small kit with scissors, packing tape, blue gaffer’s tape, and a Sharpie. We use these for everything: shipping boxes, labeling cups, wrapping fragile souvenirs, taping up shampoo tops before flights, and on-the-fly repairs.

What’s your best family packing tip?


Meet our writer

Eric Stoen, the founder of Travel Babbo, travels around the world constantly with his three kids. Wendy met him when he won Condé Nast Traveler’s Dream Trip Contest a few years ago and was so impressed with his travel savvy that she invited him to contribute to WendyPerrin.com.