5 Tips on Staying at a Hotel With a Toddler
You’re ready for your family vacation! You have you tickets, your itinerary, and your packing list, but then as you pack your toddler’s stuff, you think to yourself, “How the heck am I going to survive in a small hotel room with a toddler?”. Then your thoughts start to spiral out of control and you think, “Can we even go on a vacation? What about their sleep schedule? Will we enjoy ourselves since they go to bed so early?”.
Our family just went on an overnight trip and these same thoughts kept popping in my head. In fact, I almost backed out of our weekend getaway because of the fear of staying in a hotel with Remy and veering away from our “routine”. But, I’m so happy to report that our little boy (and us) did SO much better than we could have imagined! He slept through the entire night and absolutely loved exploring a new place.
So before you hit that cancel button, here are some tips and tricks on staying in a hotel with a toddler to ensure that your vacation is enjoyable as you make amazing memories as a family!
Prepare for success
When you’re about to embark on a trip with your little ones, preparation is half the battle! If you’re driving to your destination, consider bringing along your own Pack ‘n Play. If you don’t have one or are flying instead, call ahead to your hotel to reserve a crib. Then be sure to pack the essentials, such as toys, favorite books, lovey, special blanket, etc. We also felt that Remy’s sound machine was essential and we had enough room to pack it in our luggage. And finally, pack some duct tape! That’s an odd request, but we’ll talk more about that in the next section.
TIP: Pack some brand new toys to keep your little one entertained for a wee bit longer than usual.
Inspect and set up the room
Once you check into your hotel room, it’s time to inspect your room. As you know, toddlers LOVE to explore and this hotel room is so new and different that they will investigate every nook and cranny. Check the floor and under the bed for any small trinkets or items that they will inevitably put into their mouth. Look for any outlets that are within a toddler’s reach and cover them with tape. You can also tape down electrical cords that they can trip over or blind cords that they can get tangled up in. Move any toiletries and fragile decor out of reach of those tiny hands.
Finally, set up stations for your toddler: a changing station, eating station, sleeping station, you get the idea!
TIP: Clear out a small space in your room as a playing station and lay down a large blanket or sheet so your little one can crawl around without you worrying about the floor (too much).
Try to maintain a routine, but be flexible
This tip is a hard one. You want to have fun on your vacation but you also don’t want to ruin that sleep schedule that took you sooo long to perfect. My advice is to be a little bit flexible, but try to stick to some sort of schedule. We had Remy nap on the go, either in the baby carrier or the stroller, and while he had shorter naps than usual, we didn’t stress over it too much, especially since he was still in such a happy mood.
His bedtime got pushed back by about half an hour, allowing us to eat dinner out together as a family. Again, this was no problem as we slept in the next morning. We kept the same bedtime routine with a bath, PJ’s, reading, and cuddling before lights out.
While you’re on vacation or away from home, don’t look at the clock too closely as you’ll end up not enjoying yourself! Be flexible and enjoy this precious time with your family!
Recreate their home sleep environment
Maintaining some aspect of your little one’s routine also goes along with recreating their home sleep environment as much as possible. Is there a dark corner of your hotel room? Can you section off part of your room with a sheet or towel? Do you have a sound machine that you use at home? We recreated Remy’s home sleep environment by making it as dark as possible and used his sound machine on the exact same settings. We also used sheets that were from home so he had a familiar smell and he had his lovey and blanket that he loves to cuddle. Remy had no problem passing out at the end of the night and slept his twelve hours without a peep. He woke up so happy the next morning to a well-rested mama and papa. 🙂
Splurge for a suite
Finally, if you can swing it, I recommend splurging for a suite or a hotel room with an adjoining room or even an AirBnB. We stayed at a Residence Inn hotel suite at our last overnight stay that I can honestly say that it makes a world of difference in how you vacation. If you’re in a single room, once your toddler is down for the night, you and your family are a little limited to what you can do. You’ll have to watch TV with the volume turned low, whisper in hushed voices, and maybe read with the lights turned down low?
However, in a suite, you can set up your toddler’s crib in the bedroom and once they are asleep, you can close the bedroom door and you and your family are ready to party! Well, not exactly. I wouldn’t recommend partying, but you can watch TV at a normal volume, play board games (which is what my husband and I did), or order romantic room service!
Furthermore, with a suite, you may even have a small kitchen with a full fridge. This is perfect for traveling with little kids as you can cook meals and store snacks while you’re vacationing.
This rounds up my top 5 tips on staying in a hotel with a toddler! With these tips, you’re bound to have an amazing trip! We definitely plan on traveling more as a family and I will update this list as gain more experience. Have you stayed in a hotel with young children? What are your top tips? I would love to hear your experiences and advice!
My husband and I are thinking about staying at a hotel with our toddler for the first time when we go on our next vacation. I appreciate that you said that if you can swing it you should try splurging for a suite or a hotel room with an adjoining room to give everyone more room. I think that getting a suite would be a good idea and would help us each have our own room and give our toddler enough toom to tun around and play in too. Thanks for the tips on staying at a hotel with a toddler.
Hi Steele, thank you so much for reading! I hope you have an excellent vacation and can’t wait to hear how it turns out!
Great tips! I’ll be sure to implement your ideas the next time I travel!
Great tips. I’m about to be in Jamaica for a week with my toddler and not sure how it will work out.
Thanks for some great tips! I like what you said about recreating their sleep environment. We take our sound machine everywhere!
Your tips came right on time for me! We are going on vacation for the first time with our 6 month old and I have so much anxiety because I don’t know what to expect. This post is so helpful and gave me an idea of what to pack and have available on our trip. Thank you for sharing!
I really appreciate this article, I am about to be a first time mom and I think it is super helpful. Not only to hotel rooms, but also visiting my family in other states, out of town, etc.
This is the kind of tip I am looking at and I am really looking forward to our first experience with this. It’s like me thinking that if a night away from home would feel away from home really. I don’t really think that a day staying at hotel would feel vacay much more with a toddler.
We actually stayed in a hotel when my kids had the chickenpox. My husband was going out of town (driving distance) and had ordered a hotel room late so all they had left was the suite. I was home from work taking care of the two chickenpox kids. So we ended up just going with him and hanging out there for two days. It was so nice because it was a change of scenery while we were still able to stick to our routines.
Thanks for sharing your tips.
amazing tips! i always thought it was impossible to travel with your baby!
Thank you so much for sharing
-the Handy Journal
The pack ‘n play is definitely a life saver for traveling. Thank you for sharing!
We definitely did not do ANY of this. We made an unexpected stop at a hotel on a roadtrip and my kids completely LOST it! By far one of the work parenting experiences. Thanks for the tips! 🙂
I like the idea of getting a suite! I’m going to have to give that a try for our next family holiday! Thanks for the tips.