It was time for us to bring back some solid tips for staying in a hotel with toddlers, babies or even older kids. Because this week, we all started seeing this “TikTok hotel hacks” article going around and sheesh! It seems the article was made more for paranoid single travelers than families who’ve BTDT. Another reminder that TikTok is not always the best source of trusted information.

(Also, ew to letting the kids eat off an ironing board.)

Hotels with toddlers: 7 smart tips from a BTDT mom of 4. (Skip the TikTok hacks, please!)

As for us, we love family vacations and staying in a hotel with kids and have all kinds of real tips to help you out. Hotels are part of the magic of childhood, right? I mean, who remembers the thrill of going to find the ice machine as a kid? And a pool….inside? Whoa.

That said, as parents we know that staying in a hotel room with our own toddlers can be challenging. Bedtime routines are disrupted, everyone’s on top of each other, and diaper blowouts tends to happen at the moment when you have no idea where the baby wipes are.

But we promise, you can still enjoy a vacation where your kids sleep in the same room as you thanks to these tips.

7 smart travel tips for staying in a hotel with toddlers and young kids

Whether you’ve got a Labor Day weekend coming up, a Christmas break jaunt on the calendar, a big family trip, or you’re just hopeful for future vacation memories, we’ve collected some of our favorite hotel tricks for travel with toddlers. Because you actually want to enjoy this vacation too, right?

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Related: Pro tips for saving a ton of money on family travel

1. Make your vacation home feel more like your home home.

Trips for traveling with toddlers: How much stuff from home to bring?Photo: li tzuni on Unsplash

Trying to get your child to sleep at night may be the most anxiety-ridden aspect of traveling with young kids. (Other than maybe a long flight, gah). So setting the room up to be as similar to home as possible is a great idea.

I like to bring a crib sheet, pillow, and blanket from home for my young ones, so they have the same smells and comfort they do in their own crib. If it’s viable to bring your own travel crib from home (this is a favorite we’ve reviewed) , it may be unwieldy but could totally be worth it.

And of course, favorite loveys, stuffed animals or other comfort items are essential. Board books, toys, a favorite bedtime story — I know you want to travel light but I wouldn’t skimp on comfort items from home.

Related: 9 travel essentials for babies that are totally worth the money

2. Do a quick safety check as soon as you arrive

If your kids are like mine, they’re going to be bouncing off the furniture, opening every drawer, tapping at at every alarm clock — essentially mesmerized by all the new and different things (that are actually completely ordinary) in your hotel room. However, hotel rooms aren’t exactly set up with toddlers in mind, so they can be a minefield to an extra-curious kid.

  • Tape down cords
    I pack a roll of painter’s tape in my suitcase to tape down any cords that might be a tripping hazard (or chewing hazard, yikes) for a young child. (Please, ignore the advice in the article mentioned above that tells you to use duct tape — it can ruin the walls and incur a charge.) You can also use that painter’s tape to cover any tempting outlets or data ports.
  • Flip the swing bar lock
    If you’re in a hotel with toddlers, be sure to keep that bar lock in the closed position, so your toddler can’t open the door and wander out into the hall while you’re in the bathroom — even if the doors are super heavy and seem hard to open, extra security can’t hurt. Same goes for a balcony door if you have one. For sure.
  • Get curtain pulls out of the way
    Cautious parents already know about the hazards of long curtain pulls but we don’t always think about them when we’re in a hotel room. You can also use your painter’s tape to get those up and out of the way, or try using the clips from a hotel room hanger as a clever hack to tie them high to the curtains.
  • Keep the mini bar or fridge locked
    If there’s no key, then again with the painter’s tape. See, it really is great to bring!
  • Do a desktop check
    You also want to get any heavy items out of toddler-arm’s reach, like coffee mugs, an ice bucket and tongs, a coffee maker, or a lightweight lamp.
  • And then, there are those germs…
    If you’re concerned about germs, check out this list of the germiest items in a hotel room. I’d start with the remote control — you don’t want that thing in a toddler’s mouth. You can easily cover it with a plastic bag if you don’t want to clean it yourself.PS consider giving those drinking glasses in the bathroom an extra wash before using them.

3. Try adjoining rooms…or fake it.

If you’re going to stay in a hotel with toddlers, booking adjoining rooms is an amazing idea for families, and as safe as your child sleeping in another room in your home. Just bring your favorite portable baby monitor¬†along, and you can stay up watching overpriced movie rentals (or you know, just reading in peace) long after you’ve put your toddler to sleep in the next room.

Another option is to book a suite or a room with a balcony. It will give you your own space to relax and enjoy your vacation in the evenings after your kid is asleep.

A brilliant alternative is the super popular SlumberPod (also shown at very top) which has become a big hit with parents since we first shared it in 2018 when it launched. Full disclosure: I know the creator, but it’s so brilliant, was funded by parents through a very successful Kickstarter, blew up on Shark Tank…and hey, it costs far less than paying for a second room for even one night.

Travel with toddlers: Make bedtime easier with SlumberPod

The reason I like the SlumberPod is that it’s like a pop-up blackout shade tent (or “privacy pod”) that sits over the top of your portable crib. And it’s really made for travel, because it folds down smaller than your diaper bag. You can even insert your baby monitor in a sleeve on the tent, so you can see your kid but they can’t see you. Turn on your white noise machine, and climb in your own bed while your child falls asleep–without peeking their head up over the edge of the crib a million times.

Related: 15 things to pack for your next trip to Disney World that make the difference between enjoyment and survival.

Travel with toddlers: Bring your own sleeping solutions to save money If you have older kids, the¬†Kid-O portable bunk bed¬†(formerly Cam-o-Cot) I’ve recommended for camping with kids is also a great way to save money and keep everyone in one room with a bit of their own space. A 3- or 4-year-old could comfortably sleep on the bottom bunk, while an older kid (or intrepid but small adult!) sleeps up top. Not only is it an extra set of compact bunk beds in your hotel room, it can also convert to a couch during the daytime.

Related: The cutest travel pillow for kids that’s our new favorite must-have

4. Set up a diapering station

Before you leave home, pack all your diapering supplies in one bag (or in a large reusable Stasher bag in your suitcase) so you can grab it easily and set it up quickly when you arrive. Because your kid having a blowout when you don’t know where the wipes are is not¬†a good thing.

Don’t forget to pack a roll of disposable bags for the diapers, so your room doesn’t stink while you wait for room service to arrive the next day.And, for extra measure, bring along some natural room spray that you transfer into a travel-sized mister.

5. Be prepared for bottle feeding. (And snacks, lots of snacks)

If you’re traveling with a child who’s still using a bottle, you don’t need to run back and forth to the restaurant downstairs to make it work. If you need warm water for formula or to warm a chilled bottle, use the coffee maker in your room to heat the water — just be sure to give the water time to cool before using it, of course!

If you’re pumping breast milk while you travel, reserve a mini-fridge in advance for your room. The majority of hotels keep them on hand for guests who need to refrigerate medical supplies. Worst case scenario, keep the milk chilling in the ice bucket like it’s a nice bottle of ros√©.

And of course, bring (or run out and buy) lots of snacks¬† — try these recipes for our favorite homemade travel snacks to save you hassle and money¬†(just be sure you pick the toddler-safe ones). Also bring along a few plastic cups for the room, so your kids don’t get hangry¬† — or break the glasses in the bathroom

Related: 5 easy ways to eat healthier with kids when traveling.

6. Plan in advance for post-bedtime activities.

AirPods: perfect for traveling with toddlers if you're sleeping in the same hotel room!

As I mentioned, turning on the TV with a toddler in the same room isn’t going to work. So a small book light for travel is a smart purchase under $10, allowing you read without waking the kids up, should you be into printed books. Or, share a pair of AirPods so you can both snuggle up and stream something for the adults on your phone or tablet without waking the kiddo.

7. Wipe them out

The real BTDT pro parenting tip for hotel travel with toddlers: Before bedtime, spend a good hour at the hotel pool, a play gym or playground, or basically any place that’s safe for physical activity. This way your toddler will be wiped out and ready to sleep, whatever your hotel room arrangements.