It’s officially August, probably the most popular month of the year for family travel. So before you head out, here are a few of my tips to ensure a smooth hotel trip when you’re taking a baby or tot with you.
Choose Your Hotel Wisely
There are plenty of hotels that are awesome if you’re childless but would be kind of a nightmare if you have a baby (think – thumping music coming from the rooftop bar, popular with bachelorette parties, etc). On the other end of the spectrum – a SUPER kid friendly resort might not be your best option either, until you have kids who are a bit older. I learned this the hard way at a hotel where my weeks old infant was sequestered to the “kids pool” with a loud speaker soundtrack and hoards of screaming school-aged kids – not exactly tranquil for nursing or baby naps.
Ideally, look for a hotel that is relatively popular with everyone – as in families, couples, business travelers, etc. I’ve found that a healthy mix is the best the way to go. Often, chain hotels have this variety (whether it’s the Ritz Carlton or the Holiday Inn). One good way to identify this mix is by checking the number of reviews by category on Trip Advisor. If you see that it’s almost ALL single travelers, for instance, that might not be the best spot. For the hotels they cover, Jetsetter is also a great place to look. They include a section on the front page for each hotel called Things To Know, which I find extremely helpful (ie – that the pool can be kind of a scene, you have to cross a very busy street to get from the resort to the beach, etc).
Think about dining as well – I look for hotels that have at least one good restaurant onsite (unless it’s a city hotel where there are lots of walkable options). You don’t want to be stuck going to valet multiple times a day with a baby just to be fed. If there is an option for a room with a kitchenette, take it!!
Also….make sure they hotel isn’t Adults Only. Not all Adult Only hotels do a great job of advertising that fact.
Request A Crib
One less thing to lug on your trip, and pretty much all hotels have them available. Make sure to do this when you make the reservation so it’s set up when you arrive, and double check again at the front desk when you’re checking in. Chances are, someone may need to take a nap soon after you get there, so you don’t want to be waiting around. I like to bring my own crib sheet as well, so that I have a spare if there is an accident, and in case the one they provide doesn’t seem up to snuff. My favorite brand for full size crib sheets is Aden + Anais, they have SO many adorable prints. For a travel crib/pack n play size, we love the BABYBJORN Fitted Sheet for Travel Crib, which is organic and fits all brands of travel crib/pack n plays.
Request A Mini Fridge
This way you will be able to keep whatever baby food products you have cool – breast milk, baby yogurt, milk etc. Remember that some hotels have their mini bars on a sensor, so discuss this when you check in. Some hotels will say its ok to take everything out, others will want to give you a second mini fridge to store your stuff. I made the rookie mistake of taking everything out of a fridge and then putting it back in the next day at one hotel – I learned about the sensors the hard way when they tried to charge me for EVERY SINGLE ITEM in the mini bar at check out.
Bring The Cleaning Necessities
You will be managing without some basics like a washing machine and a dishwasher, so come prepared with the necessary cleaning products. I never leave for a trip without the following: Babyganics Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizing Wipes On-The-Go for all those yucky surfaces, Babyganics Foaming Dish and Bottle Soap On-The-Go for cleaning pump pieces, bottles, and baby utensils, etc, and Dreft Stain Remover Travel Size – if there is a diaper blowout or massive food spill, spraying this and scrubbing in hot water will mitigate the damage until you can really wash it. I also bring extra plastic bags (both sandwich and gallon) to store a dirty spoon after a restaurant meal, or for a wet pair of baby pants that was still drying when we had to leave, etc. They just always come in handy.
Bring The Feeding Necessities
If your baby has started solids, make sure you have lots of backup options (you never know when a restaurant will be closed or for some reason only serving a prefix of food you baby doesn’t eat). For me, this often means bananas or avocados I can quickly mash up, a tub of cheerios, and lots of pouches – my favorites are Plum Organics, Happy Baby, Ella’s Kitchen, and Once Upon a Farm (which note is cold pressed and requires refrigeration.)
And remember – just like restaurants – these people are your friends! Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Hotels are generally very accommodating to families, regardless of how “family friendly” they are.