Staying in a Hotel with a Toddler (or two)
There are quite a few things to consider when traveling with toddlers. We thought we had sorted through all the necessary details of traveling with toddler twins before we set off on this trip to the gulf coast. We quickly learned that a road trip and a hotel stay are no easy feat when toddlers are involved. And the biggest lesson we learned… If you don’t have to travel and stay in a hotel with your toddler, don’t. It’s just not worth the effort and exhaustion.
The drive was long. We timed it around their naps as much as possible but they only sleep for 1 1/2 – 2 hours max. So for a six hour car ride plus time for stops to eat and change diapers and let the little ones run around it feels like the never ending trip. We had a bag full o toys and books handy to keep them entertained. I am able to sit in the back with them which also helps but a ling drive is a long drive no matter what you do and Talia and Jordan still sit facing back so we cant even distract them with TV yet. we did give them each an ipad or phone during the final 30 minutes of the trip to keep them calm until we got home. We will be limiting our road trips to under three hours for the next year or so.
It would have been much more practical to have stayed in a condo. Even a one bedroom with a sleeper couch for us would have worked. Sharing a room with the girls basically meant that at 8/8:15 when it was their bed time it was ours too.
A major issue with the hotel was the room they gave us, first floor on the middle if the hall with tiled flooring. The tile was not only really cold making it hard to play on the floor but it was so hard.
The smallest tumble by one of the girls meant a big booboo. I was constantly on edge trying to keep them from getting hurt. The second day we were able to move to a different room with carpeting. This little difference made our time in our room so much more fun and comfortable.
The few pictures of the hotel room online all showed carpeting in the rooms, so I didn’t even think to ask for a carpeted room. Keep this in mind when renting. Condo as well. Most beach condos have tiling in common spaces.
On our second day in Destin after switching rooms we stopped by the grocery store to get more milk and picked up some masking tape as well. The drawers and cabinets in the hotel room were offering too many opportunities for tiny finders to be smashed and heads to be bumped by corners. So we taped everything up.
If you must stay in a hotel with your infant or toddler bring a pack and play. The hotel cribs are small, cold metal cages. They don’t have bumpers so if you have to use the hotel crib bring your own bumpers. We use breathable bumpers at home and they would have packed easily and fit well. I suppose you could use hotel towels to weave in and out of the bars of the crib to keep hands and feet from sticking through the spaces, touching cold metal and pacifiers, loveys and blankets from falling out. But it’s not the safest option.
Our original hotel room had an alcove at the hall way end of the room with a built in bunk bed. There was just enough space to awkwardly put two cribs there as well. But between the noises of people walking and talking and doors closing in the hall way, the light from under the door and the unfamiliarity of the cold metal cribs, the girls ended up sleeping in our bed with us. No one sleep very well or for very long. I didn’t take a great pictures of the arrangement but you can see the crib in here behind the girls and my husband playing hotel bowling (video).
Our second room didn’t have the kids sleeping alcove, which may have been useful considering this room was the last room on the hall. Very quiet. So we did a little hotel room rearranging and “hid” the pack and plays behind the couch on the window side of the room. We still have to have the lights out and be super quite until the girls fell asleep but they slept much better in this room than the previous night.
And speaking of re-arranging a room. I never messed up a hotel room this bad in my entire life, and I spent many a night in a hotel room hanging out with friends after a concert.
If you have a baby that is use to co-sleeping then go for it, travel to the ends of the earth and tell me all about it. But with two light sleepers who are use to their own space it just didn’t work out.
Luckily we brought our own pack and plays and promptly got them from the car before the girls morning nap the next day. Things went much better after the switch.
We bought travel high chairs when the girls were around six months old. They have proven to be the most useful piece of baby gear we own. We brought them to the room so we could feed the girls an early breakfast when they woke up then ended up using them to eat dinner in the room as well both nights.
We purchased them both second hand from Craig’s list for $15 each. It’s also available on amazon.
We also brought with us a bunch of food. We didn’t want to have to go to the store the night we arrived knowing it would be late already. So we brought enough milk, food and snacks to get us through until the next day. The hotel room had a good sized refrigerator which was a great help. Some hotels don’t have refrigerators any more so you can always call ahead to find out and request one be put in your room.
We had hoped that we would have pleasant enough weather to spend some time playing in the sand. But the day were were there was exceptionally cold and windy. We did go to the indoor pool in the morning but the water and the air were just a bit too cold for the girls to be comfortable so swimming only lasted a short time.
We spent the afternoon at the shopping village at the resort. There was a playground but our girls were still small for it, especially with a couple dozen big kids running around. There were no baby swings for them to use. And aside from he green area where they ran around a bit and ducks in the pond to see there really isn’t much for young toddlers to do at Sandestin or is Destin at all during the winter.
We actually cut out beach trip a day short and headed to meet our friends in Alabama.
Off the subject of babies for a minute, an important tip when traveling, with or without babies, get gas! This is not so much an issue in the north eastern part if the US, but in the south it’s not uncommon for there to be large distances between gas stations. To be on the safe side, fill your tank as soon as possible when you get down to half. Don’t assume there will another gas station down the road, there may not be. We made this mistake and ended up an hour off course to get gas. Lucky for us they had 87 left.