Family vacation travel accounted for nearly half of all tourism in 1996, the most recent year for which numbers are available, according to the Travel Industry Association of America. About 24 million business trips included children that year, up from 9.1 million trips in 1990.
Taking the kids along often makes sense, says Stevanne Auerbach, director of the Institute for Childhood Resources in San Francisco and author of Dr. Toy's Smart Play (St. Martin's Press). "It helps a child understand what you do for a living and what it means to travel," she explains.
Some hotels are customizing their rooms to fit the needs of business travelers with children. Parsippany, New Jersey-based hotel chain Travelodge, for example, now offers more than 180 so-called "Sleepy Bear's Den" rooms at 90 properties throughout the United States and Canada. The special rooms are equipped with a VCR, a microfridge, a Sleepy Bear bedspread and curtains, a kid-sized chair, drinking cups that fit small hands and a plush toy. Children's videos are available at the front desk. Many kid-friendly hotels also offer day-care services.
Christopher Elliott is a writer in Los Angeles and a columnist for "ABC News Online."
Institute for Childhood Resources, http://www.drtoy.com
Travel Industry Association of America, 1100 New York Ave., #450, Washington, DC 20005, http://www.tia.org
Travelodge Hotels Inc., (800) 578-7878, http://www.travelodge.com