My family spends a lot of time in hotels on our travels. Because our kids are so young (ages 6 and 2), our family of four regularly piles into a single standard room. Things can get a little tight and we don’t always have all the supplies we’d want in the most ideal of circumstances, but we’ve learned to make do. There are a lot of creative solutions to common problems when traveling with kids. MacGyver doesn’t have anything on us! Here’s how you can hack your hotel room stay, even with babies, toddlers, or young kids in tow.
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Baby & Toddler Hotel Room Hacks
1. Deal with dirty diapers with the ice bucket liner or plastic laundry bag.
A soiled diaper can really stink up a hotel room quickly. While I always try to travel with diaper disposal bags, sometimes they are forgotten or used up. For the same smell-containing effect, take out the little plastic liner you can find in the hotel’s ice bucket and use it to dispose of a diaper tied up in the trash. The plastic laundry bags that are often in a hotel room closet can work too.
2. Pack just one roll of tape for a multitude of childproofing needs.
Hotel rooms can be quite hazardous for babies on the move. A simple roll of duct or blue painters tape can cover a lot of dangers like outlets or sharp coffee table corners. Tape can even be used to secure a toilet seat.
3. No bedrail? No problem.
If you have a toddler too big for a hotel crib but not yet really ready for a full sized hotel bed, a bedrail is a must-have. There are a lot of ways to hack this problem – pillows being the most obvious solution. Ask for a few extra from housekeeping it you need them. You can also use pillows to separate siblings who will be sharing a bed so they are less likely to roll over on each other in the night.
You can also often use a desk chair or arm chair as a bedrail if you turn it so the back is against the side of the bed. At a beach resort? A pool noodle, believe it or not, stuffed under the fitted sheet near the edge of the bed works too.
4. No crib? Ask for a rollaway.
Hotels can and do sometimes run out of cribs or Pack N Plays (and a few don’t even offer them – boo). Although not really a solution for infants, if you have a toddler, there are some additional solutions. Ask for a rollaway which you can wedge in a corner and use as a makeshift sleeping solution. Although there are often fees associated with rollaways, ask if the hotel will waive the fees if the reason you need it is because no crib is available.
5. Set up a makeshift changing table.
Still have a little one in diapers? Set up a makeshift changing table you can use for the duration of your stay so you aren’t running all over the hotel room looking for the right supplies every time you need to change. I use a bath towel folded on an open part of a desk or table and set up extra diapers and wipes nearby so I have everything ready to go.
6. Got milk? Keep it cold. (Or don’t!)
Need to refrigerate milk overnight? Fill up the ice bucket or even the sink with ice and stick a small milk carton in. Even better – many hotels offer refrigerators for free for anyone who has a medical need. Often, babies and toddlers who need formula or milk will qualify.
Or simply opt for my fail-proof milk travel hack: shelf-stable individual cartons. I swear by these things! Horizon makes 1% milk boxes you can usually find in most grocery stores, but you can even order a whole milk variety from Organic Valley online for younger toddlers who really have a whole milk preference.
7. Close those curtain gaps.
Why do hotel curtains always seem to have a huge gap in them, letting sunlight beam through when you are trying to recover from jet lag and keep your little one asleep? Close them! Use a chip clip, binder clip, or even a closet skirt hanger to keep those drapes closed. I sometimes even pile pillows along the floor for an even closer fit.
8. Block the noise.
Noisy hotels with thin walls and even thinner doors can also mean an early morning or middle of the night wakeup for your baby or toddler. While a lot of this can’t be prevented, you can take some steps to mitigate the damage. If you are hearing hallway noise or seeing light under the room door, roll up a towel and stuff it near any gaps along the floor to help block light and sound.
9. Nobody puts baby in a corner. But maybe a bathroom or closet?
The challenge of sharing a hotel room with a baby or toddler is that they often have early bedtimes but won’t go to sleep with light and distraction from other occupants. My first child needed a dark, quiet spot to sleep and we couldn’t often pay the extra price of a suite to enable that. What did we do? We put her in her crib or Pack N Play in the closet or bathroom! Obviously make sure there is adequate ventilation wherever your baby is going to be and make sure he or she can’t reach other hazards like hangers. But otherwise, no shame.
10. Need hot water for bottles? Don’t forget the coffee maker.
Need hot water to mix or warm a bottle for your baby? Run the coffeemaker without the coffee and you will have plenty. The coffeemaker is also great for a variety of snack hacks – making hot cocoa, instant oatmeal, and much more.
What other hotel hacks have worked for your family? Leave your tips in the comments!
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