After just returning home from our latest overnight away as a family of 6, plus a friend, I can say that we’ve learned a few tricks along the way to make our hotel stays easier on us (as parents) and our rooms more kid-friendly for traveling with baby. Though definitely not experts and each stay is different, whether we’ve got the entire clan with us, or I’ve got a trip and bring along my youngest, I’ve got a few hotel room tips up my sleeve to improve your stay!
I’ve always brought my littlest along with me so that I can continue to breastfeed and I’m happy to say they have all breastfed well and travelled well, allowing me to breastfeed through their first year. It’s something I’m so immensely grateful for and I know that not everyone is able or wants to breastfeed, especially for that long. One thing that has allowed me though, is the opportunity to learn how to travel well with a wee one, since even leaving them behind for a few days isn’t really an option. (I don’t think I’d want to anyway!).
Deal with Diapers
Diapers can be messy, whether at home or on the road. Deal with the mess and the stink by creating a diaper changing area. Most times for me, this just means a place with easy access to wipes, diapers, cream and I may even have an extra towel there as well to lay my little one on in case of messes. I prefer to change diapers on the bed, so usually this means I keep everything stocked on a nightstand (plus it allows for easy access at night). Ask the hotel for a couple of extra ice bucket bags (the perfect solution to tie up those dirty diapers!) and you’ll be ready to deal with the mess, AND keep the stink out of the room!
Block it Out
What is it about hotel room curtains? They all seem to leak light like crazy and for some reason it always hits right where baby sleeps or my face first thing in the morning! Ha. Throw a couple of chip clips in your bag, or if you travel with those larger safety pins in your toiletry bag, those would work too… and in a pinch a skirt hanger from the closet could be your sleep saving grace. Use them to fasten together that large gap inevitably left between the curtains where light can pour through, waking you up after you’ve just finally started a good rem cycle. Have light and sound leaking through the hallway door as well? Roll up a towel and stuff it near the seam along the floor to help block both. This is especially helpful when you’re traveling through time zones and want to maintain your home schedule for your little one (best for short trips).
In Hot Water
Use the in-room coffee maker for your hot water needs. I use our all the time… Yep, I make a cup of coffee for me (that is, if I’ve got my fave creamer in the fridge) and then brew a cup or two sans the coffee for the hot water! For me and my littles, we make oatmeal this way, sanitize pacifiers and for the baby bottle that needs to be heated, this is the perfect solution.
Many hotels offer cribs in room or a pack n’ play. For this you’d definitely need to check ahead of time, and even then, when a hotel is extra busy and full, they may not have any left available when you arrive, so make sure to have it noted on your reservation that you need one. While it’s convenient to use a hotel crib, I definitely like to have mine with me, especially if I’m driving and I have the extra room to bring it along. There are a few reasons I prefer bringing our own… first, I know where it’s been and who has used it. While I know our kids need to be exposed to some things, you never know who has been sick in a hotel’s playard and I would rather just keep those germs away. The second reason I prefer our own when we can bring it along? It keeps things consistent… the same crib, the same scents, the same feel. It just seems like our babies sleep better in one that they’re a little more used to. And another reason, this Ingenuity TravelSimple Playard that we use has a zip in sleeper for newborn, meaning I basically have a bassinet near the bed!!! This is just SO much easier on me when I’ve got a little one to feed in the middle of the night. Plus, it weighs less than 15 pounds making it about half the weight of other portable playards, sets up in about 30 seconds and has plenty of cushion. This has become my newest baby-essential favorite for travel… especially on our family road trips, since we can just pop it in the back of the car! It also takes up less space in the room that a traditional playard, so it can fit between double beds or in the closet (sometimes a GREAT option to help baby sleep longer). It’s been a game changer for me.
Keep it Clean
When I walk into a room, I do a few things before we settle in to our new home away from home for a few days. First, I grab our essential oil sanitizing spray (a must for every mom’s bag and especially when in a hotel room!) and mist just about every surface, making sure not to miss areas that are heavily handled like doorknobs, light switches, faucets, even blankets and pillows, the bathtub and more.
With a baby on the move, I also mist the floor, since they will definitely need to burn off some energy down there. Another tip if you have an especially curious little one is to have a roll of painters tape or duct tape in your bag. With this you can block off a few safety hazards, like light sockets, low drawers and sharp corners. With most of mine, we haven’t had to do this as they have stayed away from sockets, etc. But Skylar was definitely my most curious and a couple of times for him I had to take a few extra precautions. 😉
At most hotels you can request a refrigerator and have it at no charge for baby or medical needs. If there is a stocked mini-fridge, just request that they empty it for you and you can use it for pumped milk, formula or other items. In worst-case scenarios, we’ve used the ice bucket and just have made sure to keep fresh ice rotating during our stay… but that’s a rarity. I’d even recommend calling ahead about the refrigerator to get it noted on your account before your arrival.
Avoid the Mess
Okay, so my subtitle on this one makes me laugh because I feel like with a little one… or a few of them, the mess is a given. BUT you can take steps to keep your space somewhat organized, and when you’re living with a few people in a small space keeping it picked up just helps to keep you sane. Use the laundry bags from the hotel closet to keep dirty/used clothing at bay. I like to keep baby items together so I can easily find and use them when needed.
Travel with a sound machine!!!! This is huge for helping everyone to sleep well, no matter if it’s day or night. Since we don’t actually use a sound machine, we have apps on our phones and iPad to recreate those sounds. You can find free ones easily with a quick search of the iTunes store.
Hope this helps those of you that travel with little ones in some way! There is never only one way to do any of this, but these tips are what have worked best for our family so far! We’d love to hear all of your tips and tricks when it comes to packing and traveling with little ones in the comments below since we’re always trying to improve our own ways to travel.