Surviving Hotels with Kids

I love hotels. I love the way they smell, the breakfast buffet, the mini shampoo samples and the excitement of being away from home. I always have, ever since I was a child. So it’s no surprise, now that I have children of my own, to see that they also get a kick out of staying somewhere new overnight.

If you have traveled with small children, you know that staying in a hotel can sometimes be the opposite of relaxing. Kids require a LOT of stuff, especially when they are babies. Packing two adults and a number of children into one tiny room usually results in a severe lack of sleep. And getting from point A to point B is just THAT much harder when you don’t have access to the comforts of home.

This past weekend I stayed in a hotel for a couple of nights with my husband and our two children (ages 3 and 2), and I got to thinking about what we’ve learned in the past few years about making hotel stays manageable… and making us want to travel with the kids again! Here are my top five survival tips for hotels with kids:

  1. Keep your expectations low (or at least realistic). My first rule for traveling to hotels with kids (and maybe for doing anything with kids) is to not expect too much. Kids haven’t yet learned to adapt well to new surroundings, and so what seems like a fun getaway for you may be your child’s worst nightmare. Go into it expecting meltdowns, crying jags and zero sleep. Then, when things go well or your kids crash right away, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
  2.  The iPad (phone, tablet, etc.) is your friend. Look, I have read the studies about screen time and I know it shouldn’t be used as a “babysitter.” But sometimes, it’s the best tool available to calm your kids and give them something to do in the close quarters of the hotel room. Bonus: maybe you can enjoy a glass of wine and a episode of your favorite show while they watch an episode of Paw Patrol on the digital device. Tip: Make sure your hotel offers free Wi-Fi and ask the front desk for any necessary passwords!
  3.  It’s the simple things. My kids absolutely love taking rides on hotel luggage carts. They fight over who gets to press the elevator buttons. And they LOVE to jump on fluffy hotel beds! Hype the small things about staying in hotels and your kids will have a ball. It may not seem like much to you but they’ll get a kick out of the details that make a hotel different from home sweet home.
  4. Order in. Restaurants with kids can be another challenge, especially after a day of sight-seeing or traveling. This weekend we opted to order take-out from a nearby restaurant and had a picnic on the floor of our hotel room! The kids had a blast and actually we had fun, too. Just remember to ask for utensils and plenty of napkins!
  5. Enjoy the moment. No matter how prepared you are, traveling with children, no matter the age, can be challenging. It’s easy to get frustrated and anxious about all the things that are going wrong. Instead, try to focus on the moment, realizing that you’ll some day reach a point where your kids aren’t as easily entertained by luggage carts or the hotel pool. Some of my favorite memories growing up are those I spent traveling with my family, and although I’m sure it was exhausting for my parents, all I remember is how exciting it was to stay overnight in a hotel. You can sleep when you get home, right? Happy travels!
The four of us hanging out in one bed at the Hampton Inn

The four of us hanging out in one bed at the Hampton Inn


  1. We totally rely on the iPad when traveling – and make no bones about it! And now that Netflix and Amazon Video offer the option of downloading videos for when you are offline – that really helps us in the car too!

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