Even the most “family-friendly” hotels are still a struggle when you’re travelling with young children. It’s not just baby-proofing worries and living out of a suitcase; it’s the disruption to their sleep routines, the unfamiliar environment, and general giddy over-excitement. And somewhere in the middle of all this, you’re supposed to be enjoying your holiday, too?
No fear: the key, as with everything else, is preparation. With enough advance notice you can easily make sure everyone is clean, fed, well-rested, safe and entertained in any hotel environment.
If you’re travelling with a partner, your strategy should be “divide and conquer”. As soon as you arrive, one of you leads the kids on an exploration of your new digs while the other unpacks the essentials. Set up a baby changing station and feeding area ready to go for when you need them, and check the room for hazards such as electrical sockets and sharp edges. If you’re concerned, you can bring along a kit of baby-proofing must-haves like outlet covers and tape. Split your duties at night, too: two adults, two kids and two beds = one kid and one adult in each bed. The kids will sleep better without a partner in crime to keep them giggling.
Sleepis one of the major worries of parents on holiday. Will they sleep? Will you? Will you spend the whole holiday desperately finding opportunities to doze? Do they ever get tired?! The strange environment can inspire too much fear or excitement to allow kids to fall asleep easily, as well as dealing with different time zones and schedules. Be sure to bring your child’s favourite toy, blanket or “lovie” with you, and keep it somewhere safe during the day to make sure that housekeeping doesn’t accidentally gather it up with the linens. A nightlight will be helpful in dark hotel rooms, and a white noise machine to block out strange noises. High-end places such as Lancaster Gate hotels in London often provide a crib, but if you want to be absolutely sure that the quality is up to your standards, consider bringing your own. And remember that you can afford to be a little flexible with your routine. Loosen up and enjoy the holiday!
Keep kids entertained by choosing a hotel with at least one facility they can enjoy – like a swimming pool, kid’s club, playground or game room. You’ll probably be doing plenty to tire them out during the day, but it’s always good to have a backup right there in the hotel. Don’t be ashamed of using the in-room TV to keep them occupied for a few minutes while you get ready. And always, always bring snacks! Not only to avoid the need to raid the minibar, but because if you’re travelling internationally, you can’t rely on being able to find familiar snacks your kids will eat. A taste of home is the perfect antidote for a hungry, cranky child.
If there are more than three of you, consider upgrading to a suite. It’s not always possible, but that extra space could make all the difference to your moods as the holiday progresses and you all begin to crave your own space. No matter what size your room is, be sure to keep it clean! Housekeeping may or may not tidy up for you, but you want to be sure that you know where everything is when you need it. Besides, clutter tends to kick already frustrated feelings into high gear – so keep the toys off the floor in the name of family harmony.