Fudging The Number Of Kids On Vacation

We’re planning a family holiday at Disneyland later this summer and when booking our hotel room we had to pay a little more for a larger room, now that there are five of us.  Sure, the older two can share a bed and the baby can sleep with Safari Mom and me, but the hotel doesn’t allow that.  Five people means the larger, more expensive room, whether we like it or not.  But what if I had simply not mentioned the baby and reserved the regular size room?  Could I have gotten away with it and saved myself some money?  Turns out the answer is a resounding yes. And no.

Software engineer Jeremy Reed of Texas has done it — with seven kids, he’s had to cram a lot of folks into a single room in order to be able to afford a family vacation.  “With many small children, it doesn’t make sense for us to split the care responsibility for overnight lodging,” he says.  He does admit to feeling a mite guilty about it but has little choice given a limited budget.  Before you decide to give this a bash, however, be aware that you may not get away with it.

At least one housekeeper has admitted that she was instructed to count the number of toothbrushes in hotel bathrooms and report to management.  “If there were more toothbrushes than stated guests, management would decide whether to pursue it with the guests,” said Molly Gamache.

Of course, charging more is one motivation for cracking down on excess guests — after all, the hotel rents the room for a certain rate based upon, among other things, the cost of hosting the expected number of guests — but there is more to it than just dollars and cents.  Safety is always a concern and too many people in a room can be a problem in an emergency.  That doesn’t help much, though, when you’re looking at the cost of an additional room, not to mention possibly being separated from your significant other if the rooms are not adjoining.

With this in mind, some hotels are offering alternatives to paying full price for a second room — The Park Hyatt Washington in Washington D.C offers a second room for kids under 16 for $75 (less than 20% of their regular room rate) while other Hyatt hotels offer a second room for 50% off.  Marriott’s Residence Inn offers larger rooms and suites that can accommodate up to eight people.  The website Six Suitcase Travel lists hotels that offer rooms for five or more family members.  So help is out there.

Or, you can take your chances with squeezing a few extra people into a regular-sized room and hide your toothbrushes.  Personally, with my kids we need as much room as we can get so I don’t mind paying a bit more for a larger room.

Of course, it’s unlikely that, even if you’re caught, that you’d be kicked out on the street.  Still, is that the sort of example to set for one’s kids?  The hotel has offered a service at a specific price with certain conditions; you’ve agreed, but are not adhering to the conditions of the agreement.  Whether it’s the number of people in a hotel room, whether or not you can share food at a buffet, or where you can go in a rental car, I think it’s important to live up to the what you agreed to.  It seems to me that choice is not between getting an extra room and stuffing extra people in one room, but between getting an extra room and not taking a vacation you can’t afford.  I may not agree with every rule or condition, but if I agree to a deal, I do my best to adhere to it, something I’d like my kids to learn.

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