Out and About with Kids: Tips for staying at a hotel with a toddler
1. Book either a room with a separate living area or an extra large bathroom. At the end of the day, it is so nice to be able to put your child down for bed without fear of keeping them up until you decide to go to bed. We have been fortunate that Jasper is such a good sleeper, but since he was about a year old he has always slept in his own bed in his own room. This agreement is awesome except when we are traveling. In large part thanks to an inexpensive pack and play Jasper has slept in his own "room" at a hotel more times than I count. What I mean by "room" is bathroom or living room. At most hotels the bathroom can be quite generous which makes it feel like wasted space. As long as you don't have a habit of taking late night showers or going to the bathroom multiple times in the night letting your child sleep in the bathroom can be the perfect solution for giving them their own space. When budget allows it is so nice to be able to book a room with a separate living area, but this just does not always happen. When we luck out with a separate living room Jasper can take over that space in the evening and we can stay up as late as we want in the other room.
2. Make the whole event feel special. A few days before we go somewhere I like to start talking to Jasper about where we are going and most importantly where we are staying. I talk to him about whether we are staying at a hotel, a rental, a cabin in the woods or visiting a friend's house. I have found when Jasper has a clear picture of where we are staying he is more relaxed and excited for our adventure. When we stay at hotels it is fun to do something out of the ordinary like order room service. When we stay at a rental or a cabin it is fun to bring along something special from home like gourmet hot cocoa or some homemade cookies.
3. Bring your own entertainment. Books, DVDs, games etc. Most large hotels do not provide much in the way of entertainment (other than televisions) so I always like to make certain to pack our Gathre play mat, a few cars and trucks and a large stack of books. By doing so, I know Jasper will have something to do during our down time at the hotel/cabin. I also like to keep his toys on rotation at home so he is not always playing with all of his toys all of the time. This way I can bring something for our trip he has not seen in a few months and it feels like a brand new toy to him. This little wooden toy camera for instance is always a favorite when I bring it out. Now if only it took real photos.
4. Check, double check, recheck. I cannot tell you how many times we have almost left a favorite stuffed animal, a beloved car or a pair of shoes. Before you check out make certain to check under every cushion, rifle through the bedsheets and peek under each piece of furniture for forgotten toys, socks or shoes. Whether on purpose or not, children are good at hiding stuff.
5. Always opt for a room with a view. Often the best entertainment is people watching or a beautiful view. Especially when Jasper was much smaller and his naps were paramount we would find ourselves spending more time in our hotel room than we would have liked. When we have booked rooms with views, it is so much nicer to spend time in our room during the day with the added bonus of being able to enjoy the view.
6. Pack clothing which is monochromatic or interchangeable. There is nothing worse than having incomplete outfits while on vacation. I try to never bring the one shirt which matches the one pants rather an assortment of clothes which are all interchangeable. This way if something gets soiled it isn't a big deal and Jasper can still look pulled together and like we care how he dresses. I know many parents do not care what their children wear, but for me dressing him each morning is really a highlight of my day.