Summer is here and it's time to go on vacation. Hooray! But are you worried about staying in a hotel with kids?
We've spent a lot of nights in hotels this year. By a lot I mean that we've spent a total of more than two months traveling since the beginning of the year. What can I say? The Hubby travels a lot for work and we hate being apart from him, especially with James being so young.
But sleeping in a room the size of our living room is HARD! We've made every traveler's mistake in the book. We've packed too much, we've packed too little, we've been overly organized, we haven't been organized enough. You name it, we've done it.
Because of these adventures, I've got a lot of suggestions on how to survive staying in a hotel with kids.
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1. Book a suite. (AKA your new best friend)
Hotels can be expensive. Trust me, I totally get it. But if there's room in the budget or a deal that can be nabbed, book a suite. And if the miracles are raining down, try to get a balcony too while you're at it.
The suite will give you that extra leg room you'll need to survive and the balcony can be your safe haven after the kids have gone to sleep.
2. Ask for a lonely, corner room.
You know what makes a vacation really hard? A fussy baby and a cranky hotel neighbor. We both know that you're doing your very best to calm Junior down so don't let any less-than-understanding guests bother you.
It's helpful to avoid these situations by asking for a corner room, away from other occupied accommodations. This will keep any loud noises from disturbing your little one's sleep.
3. Move all of the furniture to one side of the room.
It's time to use those muscles!qa No vacation is really time off when you have children, right?
Fortunately, most furniture in a hotel room can be moved. Before anything is unpacked try to arrange the sitting chair, working desk, desk chair, and bed frame away from the middle of the room and towards one or two walls only.
Don't worry about the way it looks. You need to have a play area for the kiddos and this is one of the fastest ways to do it. If they feel cramped and unhappy, you will too.
4. Immediately search for safety hazards.
Now that you have the layout all set up it's time to start searching for anything your child shouldn't touch.
I've found a random Aspirin and a sewing needle on the floor in two separate occasions. Kids are always exploring. Don't let them find something you wouldn't want them playing with.
5. Spray the surfaces with Lysol.
Yes, I'm that mom. When I walk into a hotel I'm already thinking about the many feet that tread on the floor before me. But what can do you? You're stuck staying there.
Spray the floor and surfaces and just do your best not to think about it beyond that. There's only so many germs you can avoid, but it's nice to spray at the very least.
6. Open the curtains.
This trick is really simple. Unless you're trying to put someone to bed open the shades and let all that beautiful Vitamin D inside.
The bright sunlight will give everyone a cheery demeanor and make the small room seem a little bit larger.
7. Deadbolt and lock the doors every time, all the time.
Oh, your child can open doors? There nothing to stop them from going out of the room if they are left unlocked.
You can't depend on never needing to take a shower or go to the bathroom. So play it safe and deadbolt and lock the doors every minute you spend in the room.
8. Bring the slow cooker and ice cooler.
If you have any intention of staying healthy on the road, you can't eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at fast food restaurants.
Our family likes to make a shopping run to the nearest Wal-Mart, buy a prepackaged pot roast and vegetables pack from the meat section, and have a hearty slow cooker meal.
You can also use the hotel's ice machine to keep things extra cold in your cooler if you need to. Fresh fruit, deli meats, and bread can all be eaten on the road. You just have to plan and be prepared.
9. Pack the essentials.
Occupied children are happy children. Let each child bring their own bag of toys, even if it's the smallest bag you can find. That will allow them to have their favorite items without taking up too much space.
We also like to pack books and puzzles in addition to the toys. They are the perfect "quiet time" activities. Bring Ziplock baggies if you're worried about losing pieces.
Don't stop the packing at fun and games though. I have a list of basic essentials for traveling with a baby that I bring on every single trip. I always think that you should hope for the best and plan for the worst! Our son has had eczema flares and allergic reactions on nearly every vacation we've had, poor little man.
10. Scope the local parks and downtown areas.
Let's be honest here. You can only survive a hotel if you have a chance to leave it every once and a while. You need to find things to do with your little one whether you're in a large or big city.
Start by doing a quick browse through the welcome binder or packet that comes with the hotel room. If there's nothing there, TripAdvisor is the first place I go. I have found and eaten at the best restaurants of my life because of that site. The reviews are so valuable!
11. Utilize the pool and other hotel activities.
Taking your kids to the pool is kind of a no brainer. The exercise will totally wear them out and ensure a peaceful, quiet night for you.
Look for hotels that offer other miscellaneous activities too, even if they're not specifically for children. Our favorite accommodations have a Happy Hour buffet of appetizers and free beer and wine every weekday. Our little one fills up on food and I get to have a little "Mommy juice." Everybody wins in this scenario.
12. Ask for a crib, pullout couch, or rollaway bed.
You probably didn't have room in the minivan for a playpen. And if you're not co-sleeping then you definitely need an alternative option. Hotels will almost always provide a complimentary crib at your request. Just be sure to call in advance to make sure they have one available.
The Hubby and I like to put James to sleep on the pullout couch, turn the lights low, and enjoy some yummy food while watching the History Channel. It's the closest thing to date night we can get to.
13. Relax about the bedtime routine.
Does your child have a consistent bedtime routine where they fall asleep in their own crib at 8:30pm? (If so, please share your magic secret because that's never happened for us.) Be prepared to completely forget their bedtime schedule.
Your child is traveling and in a new environment. Nothing will seem like home to them and they may fall asleep way earlier or later than normal. The sooner you relax about what's going to happen, the better off you'll be.
14. Pack a book light and your favorite technology.
Thankfully, your baby fell asleep at 7:30pm. But are you supposed to sit in a dark room or fall asleep too? You don't have to if you plan ahead of time.
Bring a book light so you can catch up on a new novel or watch a good movie on your phone or tablet. Just don't forget to pack the headphones! And if your hotel has free wifi be sure to use it so you don't go through all of your data. *ahem* Been there, done that.
The last thing you should do is panic if you're going on vacation with your little one(s). These are the precious years and you don't want to waste them worrying.
The key to a successful stay in a hotel room is a combination of preparation and relaxation. If you're feeling calm, the kids will sense it and become calm as well. Keeping them occupied, well fed, and safe will give you a wonderful family vacation!
How do you survive staying in a hotel room with kids?