Last week I got an email congratulating me on the fact that we’re 14 nights away from achieving lifetime platinum status with our favorite hotel brand. Yes, that’s almost 750 nights we’ve survived in hotels with kids!
Of course, we do occasionally travel without our kids. However, we’ve also stayed at hotels not in that particular brand. So all in all, I’d be willing to bet it evens out. That number is probably a pretty accurate reflection of the number of nights we’ve spent in hotel rooms with our kids. Crazy huh?
Have all of those nights been like sunshine and unicorns? Ha. Not even close. We’ve had our fair share of hotel fails. My kids get stuck in the turnstile door, lost on the elevator of a 30+ hotel, cry all night, etc. I’m sure most parents can relate.
Staying in a hotel with kids can as hight up on the stress-level meter as flying with kids. All parents want their children to behave. No crying. Well actually, no loud noises period. Perfectly well-mannered. Okay, pretty much just perfect in general!
But if you have a child or have ever even been around a child- you’ll know, that’s not realistic.
I’ve heard so many parents say that the main reason they avoid traveling with their children is because the kids don’t do well in hotels. And I get it. I really do. But I’m just not willing to give up that easy. Think about all the amazing experiences our family would miss if I weren’t able to work through the stress of staying in hotels!
(As a side note: Brent and I meet weekly to toss around ideas and update each other on the website. I mentioned this upcoming topic and he didn’t get it. How is it that men can be completely oblivious to the stress of staying in hotels with kids?)
Anyway, roughly 750 hotel stays later- I’ve developed my own set of tricks to make the night go well. Some involve preplanning when you book the hotel, and others are game-time, go-to options I keep in my back pocket. In general, I think the best thing you can do is set clear expectations with your children. And, at the same time, keep your own expectations low.
Here are my favorite ways to survive hotels with my kids:
- Suite-Style Room: Whenever possible we book rooms with a little extra space. Often you can get this extra space for around the same cost as a regular room (but, I’m also totally willing to pay $10 more for the luxury!) Our go-to hotel brand when we travel with our kids is Residence Inn by Marriott. At the very least we end up with a living room area with a pull-out couch for the kids. Even if you aren’t able to book a suite, it never hurts to ask for an upgrade when you check in.
- Indoor Pool: Not only do my children LOVE swimming, but it’s a fantastic way to wear them out before bed. Especially if we’ve been driving or flying that day, the kids need a way to get energy out before I’m putting them in PJ’s. Additionally, I bribe them with a morning swim if they go to bed relatively easily. So many hotels have pools and you don’t really pay extra (although, again, I’d rather pay $10 more for this lifesaver if necessary!)
- Explore: Another great way to get energy out is to explore the hotel. Often I take my kids from floor to floor using the staircases on either end. We’ll walk every floor from top to bottom. Depending on the carpet pattern, we’ll do fun things like “only walk on the red squares” or educational things like counting how many rooms in the whole hotel. During these walks I stress good manners, and appropriate volume levels!
- Safety: It doesn’t matter how many nights we’ve stayed in a hotel, I always stress safety. My kids are instructed to go straight to the front desk in the lobby if they ever get separated from our family. We always make sure they can find the lobby level- which can be confusing in some hotels! I don’t want them wandering around in the halls by themselves trying to find our room. Additionally, they know how to work an elevator and proper elevator etiquette. We go over it- every.single.time.
And when it’s time for bed…
- Routine: I try to keep our bedtime routine as similar to home as possible. Of course, it’s completely different since we don’t all share a room at home. But we get our PJ’s on, brush teeth and say prayers- just like we would at home right before bed.
- Hide: Okay, here’s where I really admit my craziness…a lot of times I hide in the bathroom while my kids are going to sleep. I’ve found that if I’m sitting right there next to them they tend to ask me questions. And I end up getting frustrated. And bedtime drags out forever. But apparently, out of sight out of mind works. I usually read or play on my phone for a few minutes to make sure they aren’t going to get really noisy. And then I jump in the shower. Most nights by the time I’m done, they are both sound asleep!
- TV: As a mama, I can usually tell if my children are too excited to sleep- and that happens often when we travel. Some nights- when I’m sure sleep isn’t happening- I turn on the TV. The challenge is not having access to On Demand like we do at home. I’ve found a couple go-to channels that aren’t overly exciting for my kids (in other words- the shows don’t keep them awake!) We like HGTV and Food Network and occasionally we find appropriate shows on Discovery or History Channel.
- Pandora: No one in our family sleeps with noisemakers at home. However, sometimes at hotels you just need something to drown out the silence (or other guests in the hall!) Last summer I found the BEST Pandora station for surviving hotels with kids: Sleepytime Tunes (children’s radio.) The playlists are all instrumental, but they’re popular artists and songs. No annoying lullaby melodies that stay in your head- I think Brent and I enjoy it as much as the kids! My kids also love listening to kid song on youtube, they really love that channel!
Although at this point I consider myself an expert, I’m always looking for new tips! How do you survive at hotels with kids?
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