Having just returned from our European road trip with our boys, which took in six countries, and eight hotels over eleven nights, we’ve pulled together some tips for staying in hotels with kids.
Don’t take your whole suitcase in unless you’re staying for more than one night.
We found moving between hotels to be much easier when we used an overnight bag with the essentials in; nappies, wipes, pjs, and a change of clothes for the next day. We use food bags from Ikea to hold all our toothbrushes and other toiletries – you can see immediately where the thing you’re looking for is, and if something leaks it really doesn’t matter – the leak is contained to that bag.
Cut down on costs
Take a travel cot with you – lots of hotels charge for a crib. We also found that hotels were struggling to find us room – they thought we needed space for four adults, which was obviously because we were including Noah in our head count (even though we listed him as an infant). When we cut Noah out of the search we suddenly found a lot more choice because we don’t need four beds. It also reduced the price considerably because we could use a more standard double room with a sofa bed.
Take something that means home
We love bedtime stories and when we went to Chicago I made the mistake of packing brand new books. What we needed was a familiar book to help the bedtime routine – everything else is new so a book your children know inside out can really help. Similarly you might find it helpful to take a portable dvd player or an iPad with leads to the tv so the kids can watch their favourite movie; this is especially helpful if you are in a foreign country where the TV is mostly in another language. Don’t forget the special blanket, or a sheet from home, which can also really help the transition to sleeping in a hotel.
If you can get a suite, it really makes all the difference, especially when it’s the children’s bedtime but adults want to stay up. A balcony or a separate seating area in a suite away from the bed space can help with this, so that everyone doesn’t have to go to bed together (adults rarely feel grateful for a 7pm bedtime!) But what if you can’t have somewhere adults can hide away? Well, we found that bedtime is a good time for one adult to take a lovely bubble bath while the other does the bedtime routine. If you’ve timed it well and the day has been balanced, bedtime usually goes quickly and there isn’t too long until some of the lights can go back on (and the wine can come out!) after the kids are asleep. But sometimes you just have to acknowledge that staying in an hotel is exciting, and going to bed at the usual bedtime just isn’t going to happen. In which case, don’t get stressed, and enjoy a family movie night together!
Don’t hold back!
Travel! Kids are so portable. So many people stop going on holiday when they have children, but honestly new environments, new smells, new experiences are all so great for children.
Do you have any top tips for travelling with children?