Kids not only change the way you travel (goodbye two-hour meal in nice restaurant, hello early bird special wolfed down before 7:30 bedtime), they change the way you book your travel. Or, at least they should, if you want things to go as smoothly as possible.
Pre-TJ, Travelin' Mom and I were not adverse to rolling the dice on a blind Priceline.com hotel bid. We knew full well we may get the worst room in a hotel, or that our special requests may not get the same attention as those of customers who booked directly through the hotel. But, we were low maintenance travelers and okay with the cost/benefit trade-off. And, to be honest, we usually had perfectly fine experiences booking rooms through Priceline or non-bid third-party booking agents like Expedia or Travelocity.
But, as anyone who has ever booked through a third-party site knows, you are trading some things, like flexibility and easy recourse for problems, for the price discount. At least for us, this price break is no longer worth it. Here's why:
- Traveling with children is a lot more unpredictable. Suddenly we're not nearly as confident booking a non-refundable rate, whether through Priceline or directly through the hotel. You may know when you feel a nasty cold coming on, but your 2-year old may not tell you he's getting a cold until he's sneezed the evidence all over your shirt.
- We're more picky travelers with a child. We're less apt to put up with a noisy room or the eau-de-previous-guest's-pack-a-day-habit still wafting in the room.
- We're more needy travelers. We usually need to make sure a crib is on hand, or that we can reserve a suite, or that there's a working microwave or mini-fridge in the room.
So, to sum up, we've become unpredictable, picky, needy guests. Yikes. If I were a hotel employee handling us, I'd certainly pass us off our requests and problems to a third-party booking agent every chance I got. For that reason, we've decided we just won't give them that chance anymore. My apologies to front desk employees everywhere.