As a proudly travel-addicted single mom, I try to be pretty fearless about the process. I dive into learning languages, I under-pack and never regret it, and my 4-year-old is great at clinging deftly to our rolling suitcase as we jog between international airport gates. Before our trip to Iceland, I networked through kind Reykjavik moms I’d never met in order to arrange to borrow a carseat, stroller and snowsuit/boots for my son for the duration of our trip so we wouldn’t have to cross the ocean with them in tow. A few years later in Northern Africa, I was shocked and proud to find my long-ago-fluent French coming back when my kid contracted bronchitis, pharyngitis and sinusitis and I had to negotiate buying antibiotics from the trunk of some Moroccan doctor’s car. In general, I I’ve got globetrotting-plus-kid down. Until I don’t.
When planning a recent trip to Cuba, I found myself drowning in a) phone-tag messages with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and b) research about travel categories and visas and inflated exchange rates and the fact that I was about to be facing a week out of the country without being able to use Wi-Fi, a credit card, or an ATM. I had no idea where I was going to stay and how I was supposed to pay for it in a way that didn’t, you know, break U.S. law.
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I absolutely hated to admit it, but I needed help planning this trip.
Enter: TRVLBEES, a family travel company focused on boutique hotels with a sustainable spin. I had worked with these folks before writing reviews of some of my favorite kid-friendly boutique hotels, but I had never used them to actually book a place — and they did not disappoint. In no time, TRVLBEEs had us booked in one of the loveliest hotels I’ve ever stayed in, and our entire Havana trip was made easier by the hotel folks’ kindness, conscientiousness, recommendations, Spanish lessons, and insane-good food. Plus, outsourcing all the hotel research/booking/hassle TRVLBEES left me with the time (and energy, ugh) I needed to deal with the visas, the money, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury. We went to Cuba without breaking any U.S. laws! Hooray!
Below, meet TRVLBEES and five more family travel companies that will seriously reduce your trip-planning angina — Cuba-related or otherwise.
This aforementioned life-saving (or at least trip-saving) company is a delight to work with and has a true eye for hotel design as well as both kid- and eco-friendliness. The properties are gorgeous and they’ll make you feel right at home, away from home.
And speaking of home away from home, if you prefer to eschew the hotel model entirely and book someone’s actual house, look no further than family rental company extraordinaire Kid&Coe. Consider it your impeccably well-designed Airbnb — that comes pre-equipped with all the kid stuff (books, toys, high chair, you name it) you could possibly need. A beautiful home to yourself and no need to sift through the endless disappointing Airbnb listings to find the gems? Sign us up. Kid&Coe has properties around the globe and from A to Z — or at least from Amsterdam to Vietnam.
Ciao Bambino is a luxury family-travel planning service that takes every headache possible out of the research, booking, advice-getting, and more of the less-than-thrilling aspects of vacationing with kids. The brand designs trips and itineraries that are completely customized around your family’s size, needs, and preferences; the goal is to create authentic travel experiences and forever memories with less hassle.
Totts is a company for parent travelers who want to pack light — but not end up regretting it. The idea is genius, really: Totts ships a customizable box of curated baby/toddler essentials to your destination. Translation: No more traveling with a week’s worth of wipes, diapers, sunscreen etc. Totts will even send you sippy cups and kid-sized cutlery, and “the Totts family also know a thing or two about traveling with kids so they make sure you’re equipped for those ‘what if’ scenarios,” the brand told SheKnows over email. Talk about a travel win!
But if your travel-rental needs are more heavy-duty than Totts can handle, look no further than BabyQuip, which can get you everything from baby gates, car seats, strollers, high chairs and cribs to toys and books (if you’re not renting an already-equipped Kid&Coe, that is). BabyQuip is super easy to use and has garnered rave reviews from parents in cities across the U.S. and Canada. That’s the only downside really: It’s not full-blown international (yet).
Let’s Take the Kids
This Canada-based travel agency helps families book vacations based on destination as well as experiences. Looking for a hand planning a Disney escape or a cruise? Let’s Take the Kids will take out the guesswork. Or maybe you’re more at the “soft adventure” level of travel: “You’ve done the all-inclusive thing. You’ve done Disney. You’ve cruised the Caribbean. You’d love to do something a bit more ‘real,’ a bit more “adventurous, but it still has to be safe, it still needs to be accessible and interesting for the kids,” Let’s Take the Kids asks on their site. Sound like you? Look no further.
With these family travel companies in your corner, you’ll wonder why you ever stressed about kid travel in the first place. Just make sure to get that visa (and bring hella cash) if you do go to Cuba, okay?
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