The worst hour (or sometimes 2-3 hours) of a vacation is when you have to get your kids to sleep in the hotel room. It’s usually at the end of a long and busy day of travel or exploring. Your kids, who a few minutes ago were “too tired to walk”, suddenly have the energy of a race horse and can’t seem to settle down.
We’ve all been there, desperately trying to get our offspring to settle down, willing them to keep quiet and secretly plotting to never plan another trip again.
Sleeping in hotels is not my favorite part of traveling, so when I can I try to look for more family-friendly accommodations like a condo or apartment, but there are times we do need to stay in a hotel. I’ve found a few things that make it a bit easier to avoid a meltdown that just might ruin the whole vacation.
Tips for Getting Kids to Sleep in Hotel Rooms
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If you can, book a suite
It might cost you a little bit extra but it can be a really worthwhile expense if it helps everyone get the rest they need. Be careful and look closely at what you’re booking since many hotels use the term suite very generously. You’ll want to make sure it says something like “one bedroom” or “bedroom separated by a door”.
We’ve been burned a few times by this, so when in doubt, call the hotel. We’ve found these these brands to be most consistent in offering a true 1- to 2-bedroom suite and pretty affordable prices.
- Country Inn and Suites (most affordable)
- Embassy Suites (best amenities and all suites)
- Drury Hotels (breakfast and evening buffet included)
Pack the comforts of home
These items may be easier to pack if you’re driving rather than flying, but having a pillow and special buddy from home can make a big difference in helping your kiddo fall asleep quickly.
Try and recreate your home bedtime routine as much as you can. Our kids both sleep with a fan at home for white noise so we pack an old iPod with a sound app to make some noise for them. I also travel with a small diffuser that I can fill with a few calming essential oils to help settle everyone down. Here’s a list to consider
- Pillow/blanket/special buddy
- White noise on your phone (iPhone, Android)
- Favorite bedtime book
Separate sleeping quarters
If your kids don’t normally share a room, it can be a huge novelty to have a sibling in the room with them at bedtime. Currently this causes my 4-year-old to lose his mind when it’s bedtime in a hotel. He’s so excited to have his big brother nearby that he can’t settle down to sleep.
We’ve figured out that he needs to be in his own space – either a separate bed or an air mattress that we bring along. We use pillows to help create some visual barriers to reduce the temptation to chit-chat/bug his brother. ***This is a work in progress***
Keep everyone safe
Hotels are mostly designed for adults and sometimes safety features, that you’re used to at home, aren’t in place. Depending on the age of your kids, it’s can be helpful to pack a few outlet covers or corner protectors. If you’ve got a little one who’s used to a toddler bed at home, try tucking extra pillows up under the fitted sheet to create a “rail” or pack some of these inflatable railings.
If you’ve got a wonderer, this door alarm can be helpful as well.
Even with all the ideas above you still might have some restless resisters (ask me how I know this), so staggering bedtimes can be very helpful. We’ve had good luck with keeping our older son up a bit later and letting the little one fall asleep before we sneak in for bed.
This works best in a suite but I’m not above hanging out in the bathroom and reading a book if we need to (There’s no dignity in parenting). You can also take older kids to the pool or lobby to play a board game if you need to do bedtime in shifts. It’s worth a little maneuvering to get everyone the sleep they need.
Wear them out
The best advice of all! If you’ve got tired kids they’ll probably crash fairly easily. (There is a caveat to this – don’t let your kids get overtired since that can keep them up too). Make sure your days have lots of built-in exercise and playing time so that all that energy has a way to be expelled. If you’ve been stuck in the car most of the day, take your kids to the park or pool after dinner and let them get their wiggles out. I also try and make sure we limit sugar and treats after about 4 pm so that we’re not hyped up close to bedtime.
Best Gear for Getting Kids to Sleep in Hotel Rooms
Binder Clips (for curtain gaps)
If avoiding hotel rooms keeps you from being able to travel, don’t let that fear make you miss out on exploring. Sure, you’re not going to sleep like you do at home, but for a few nights, it’s worth the hassle so that you can adventure together as a family. Hopefully with these tips, you’ll sleep just a little bit more peacefully!
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Got any tips and tricks on sharing a hotel room with your kids? Share them in the comments below!
Leah Yoder says
Great tips! We also frequent Homewood Suites and some Residence Inns. For us, our kids have just done better over time. It was so hard a few years ago, but now they are 7, 5, and 3; they are pretty conked out at the end of a long travel day and go to sleep for us. The white noise was always an issue for us in the past – I used to run the fan on the suite’s microwave or stove to get the kids to sleep! Oye!
I agree, Leah! It does seem to get better as they get older. Love the idea of the kitchen fan in a suite. We’ve used the bathroom fan or air conditioner too. Thanks for commenting!
Simply Mom Bailey says
This post came a week too late for me. Last week we spent our first night in a hotel. I did it solo as I was road tripping by myself. It was an interesting adventure. I let my toddler stay up an extra hour so he passed out, BUT HE SLEPT TERRIBLY. We normally cosleep when traveling and attempted that but he was up every 45 minutes after 3am. My 3 month old slept like a breeze in her dockatot, but the toddler just couldn’t stay asleep.
I’ll travel with them again, but seriously it was a rough night.
Oh no! 3 is a hard age for hotels. Both mine struggled through that age. Hope your next adventure is a little smoother 🙂
Seriously- book a suite! Just having that extra room to close them off in is HEAVEN! Thanks for the tips.
I know! But now it’s turned me into a total travel snob and I always want a suite 🙂 Oh well, vacations are for splurging, right?
Stella Nadene says
So funny–we do ALL of these things when we travel! I think the biggest one for us is getting separate rooms. My husband apparently thinks he’ll keel over if he doesn’t watch TV for an hour before bed. Great post!
Haha, bedtime routines are no joke, even for grown ups. Thanks for stopping by to comment. Happy travels!
Misty Nelson says
Great advice! I especially agree with the “wear them out” idea, lol! I try to do that at home with my son everyday. And great one about the suite, definitely helps to have a little seperation
Thanks, Misty! I’ve got two boys and it feels like my whole life is about “wearing them out” 🙂 Glad the post was helpful!
We just visited Hawaii with my 3yr old, 4yr old and 2 month old. We did a lot of these and they slept really well! It’s definitely important for them to bring personal items, and we got a 1 bedroom suite with a full kitchen it made all the difference!
If it’s more than an overnight, I love having a suite with a kitchen. Even though I don’t cook much on vacation, we love having a place to make quick breakfasts and snacks. I’m very impressed you got all those ages to sleep well through a time change! You’re a rock star 🙂
Its been easy after my kid crossed 2 years, after a tiring day, he sleeps well in the suite!
I agree, the older they get, the easier it is! Makings traveling with kids so much better when the sleep well. Thanks for stopping by to comment 🙂