This is the first in a series of four posts of a trip report that Basil put together. It’s a great father / daughter trip that I hope you’ll enjoy. -Rick
- Part 1 – Introduction, and the stay-cation
- Part 2 – Belgium
- Part 3 – Paris
- Part 4 – Coming Home & Summary
By Basil K.
Introduction and a “stay-cation”
For nearly 15 of the 20 years that I have travelled extensively, I was either single or married without kids. For the last 6 years, it’s been a different story. Travelling the world in luxury using the tenets of Frugal Travel is indeed possible when you have kids, but it requires some advance planning and expectation setting; both from parent and child. Given that this type of travel has been covered less frequently, I thought that I would share with you my observations during my first international trip with my six year old daughter Sophia. Since our family welcomed a baby boy over the holidays, our plan this year is to skip the full-on family vacation for one on one daddy/daughter and father/son vacations with our older kids, who are six and three.
Given that I wanted the experience to be special for my daughter, I decided upon Paris as our destination. Both in terms of desire for comfort and intellectual curiosity of how it would go, I wanted it to be “full on” (first class air travel and luxury hotel). Thanks to some excellent support from Gary “View from the Wing” Leff and Steve “Beaubo” Belkin’s ticketing service, I was able to convert 250,000 USAir miles earned over three Grand Slam promotions into 2 first class United tickets from Houston to Brussels, returning Paris to Houston. For the bulk of the stay, I chose the Westin Vendome, given its location, my Platinum status with SPG, and the fact that for a small amount of additional points, we got a confirmed junior suite. For the one night in Brussels, I selected the Aloft. Our night prior to return home would be at the Sheraton CDG Airport.
The first consideration for me with Sophia as a travel companion was departure logistics. Our Houston to Washington DC (Dulles/IAD) flight departed at 7 am on Memorial Day. If I were travelling alone, I would have simply gotten up at 4:30 and schlepped to Houston/IAH in the morning darkness. Not wanting to put Sophia through that, I instead used a free Marriott night that I got with their Visa card to stay at the IAH Marriott. It was 5 minutes from there via underground shuttle to the United counter at IAH. Worked perfectly, and Sophia enjoyed the “staycation” concept of a hotel stay in her hometown.