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!