One of the things I’ve learned about traveling with kids is that it’s very important to do a thorough cost-benefit analysis when making decisions about things like whether to pay extra for the hotel suite where you are separated from your children for the blissful five hours that they sleep by an actual door or whether to drop twenty dollars on a taxi that will get you to your destination faster than the city bus that you would surely take if you weren’t hauling around a stroller, a sticky backpack, and a whiny child. When Teddy and I were invited on the Jet Adventure trip to the Bahamas I had to make just such a decision, choosing whether or not I wanted to spring for a hotel room near the airport the night before we left. Since they wanted us at JFK Airport by 7 a.m., and since it’s a two-and-a-half hour drive from our house, I decided it was worth the money to stay over.
Yes, technically, we could have gotten up at 4, driven to a long-term parking lot, and been there in plenty of time. But I guarantee you that by the time our plane touched down in the Bahamas my eye would have been twitching and Teddy would have been a humid wreck. So instead, we left early on Friday afternoon so as to avoid rush hour traffic, and made our leisurely way to the end of the earth through three of New York’s five boroughs.
If you’re flying out of JFK Airport and have an early morning flight, I highly recommend that you stay at the Fairfield Inn on Rockaway Boulevard. Why? The rooms are immaculate and the beds comfortable – in fact, dare I say luxurious? A few more bonus points: there is free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and the restaurant serves food that is reasonably edible. More importantly, it has a full bar. (Which you will need to avail yourself of after driving to the end of the earth on the horror that is the Van Wyck Expressway. But I digress.) And I was able to find a room for less than $125.
I was seriously impressed by this hotel, which has a friendly and welcoming staff and is quiet as a tomb. This latter is particularly surprising given that it is only five minutes from the airport. Teddy and I slept well and after availing ourselves of the free 24-hour shuttle, which dropped us right at the terminal, were rested and more than ready to swim with the dolphins at the Atlantis Resort when we arrived later in the day. Much more so than if I had gotten us up at 4 a.m. and driven all the way from Delaware. Yes I would have saved a little money had I done so, but I know from experience that I would have sacrificed that first afternoon and evening of fun. Not. Worth. It.
And while I’m at it, let me also recommend AirPark as the place to put your car if you will be leaving it at JFK while you travel. For one thing, it’s two blocks from the Fairfield Inn – Teddy and I dropped our luggage off, then went and parked the car, returning on foot. I wouldn’t say the walk was the most pleasant I’ve ever been on (and I wouldn’t want to do it in the dark) but there was sidewalk the entire way and it wasn’t unsafe.
Better yet, when we came back to New York, tired and cold after our days of fun in the sun, the staff at AirPark went out of their way to make our return a pleasant one. Although they were busy, they picked us up within ten minutes of my call. When the shuttle pulled into the parking lot, my car was out front, engine running so that it was nice and warm. We were two hours past the time I had dropped the car off, but the nice man working at the counter took that time off without being asked, charging me only for four days instead of five.
And I have to say, small details and a little expense make all the difference around the margins when you’re traveling with kids. I had put Teddy in his pajamas at the airport and bought him a snack that he ate while we waited for our luggage. It made things so easy to put him in his carseat in a warm car and speed him back to Delaware – he was asleep before we even hit Staten Island. And so our trip ended on a happy and positive note, even if I did have to drive on the Van Wyck for the second time in a week.
Please note that although I both my flight and the trip to the Bahamas were paid for by JetBlue, LEGO, and the Atlantis Resort, I covered the costs of both my hotel in New York and parking my car while we were away and was in no way compensated for this review.