Check out these family travel tips

The new issue of Budget Travel Magazine has a family travel focus. The magazine is chock full of family travel info and tips, but my personal favorites are the section on renting a vacation home or apartment (vs. a cramped hotel room) and one great tip for making it easier to find a lost kid at an amusement park.

I have long been an advocate of renting condos, apartments or homes rather than hotel rooms if you’re traveling with kids. You get more room to spread out, the chance to have a door that locks for you and your significant otherand kitchen facilities that help you save on vacation food costs.

But how do you know which vacation rental is the right vacation rental?

The magazine compared five rental companies–Homeaway, Wyndham, Airbnb, VRBO, and FlipKey–and has the scoop on everything from best and worst booking features to rental locations. A few tips:

  • If there’s no photo, it’s a bad sign
  • “Sleeps 4” doesn’t always mean there are two beds
  • Be sure to get the exact address so you can map the location to find just how close to the city center it really is.

On the theme park front, the magazine says use your smartphone to be smarter about keeping track of your kids at the park. Snap a photo of your kids each morning–and this is the important part–in their theme park visit clothes. It will make it much easier if you have to ask for help in locating them.

I also am a great believer is using a smartphone as a memory crutch. I snap a photo of the rental car (was it the red or the white Toyota?) and a photo of the parking notation. Then I can spend the day having fun and not ruin it all by walking aimlessly around a supersized parking lot trying to find the car.

Cindy Richards is the mom of two terrific teens who has spent more time than she likes to admit looking for a lost car. She’s also the editor for TravelingMom.com. Follow her travel advice and foibles on Twitter @CindyRichards.

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