• Book a babysitter through a bonded agency: The Convention and Visitors Bureau of any city can give you the names and phone numbers of reputable babysitting agencies whose sitters are bonded and have childcare experience.
• Bring your own babysitter: If you can afford it, this can be the most comfortable solution for both parents and child.
• Speak up! If you'll be attending a large conference or convention, request that childcare be provided. Meeting planners and hotels are starting to use businesses like KiddieCorp, a San Diego outfit that supplies childcare to the convention and meeting trade, arranging qualified on-site care for all ages.
• Choose a hotel with a children's program. A few chains that feature children's programs in their resort properties are the Hyatt, Hilton, Westin, Marriott, Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton and Holiday Inn Sunspree. Most programs serve ages four or five to twelve.
• Before you pack their bags: Ask your boss or co-workers if they object to your bringing the kids, and know in advance if you are likely to have extra work. If not, make it clear that you'll be unavailable after certain hours.
• Make all arrangements before you leave: Book a babysitter or reserve space in the kid's program, and ask about age requirements, costs and hours of operation.
Laura Sutherland writes frequently about family travel for numerous publications, and is the author of The Best Bargain Family Vacations in the U.S.A., The Best Family Ski Vacations in North America, and Great Caribbean Family Vacations. Her latest book, Tropical Family Vacations, is due out next fall.