Tips for Travel with a Baby // Pt. 3: Hotels & Accommodations

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This is part 3 of a guest post by Nick. You can read part 1 and part 2, which talk about planning, the airport experience, and flying.

Staying at a Hotel With a Baby

Ok, it took a while to get this last post in the series up, which seems appropriate since flying with a baby can feel like an eternal, drawn-out process. Here are some tips to help you enjoy that vacation or family reunion or whatever occasion you deemed worthy of this masochistic aviation adventure. FYI, most of the baby gear and gadgets we rely on when traveling and at home can be found here.

1. Welcome to My TRAVEL Crib

When booking hotels or apartment rentals, we specifically look for ones with a crib to help us travel light. (see below for the filter options on Airbnb, but note that searching for “high chair” is just a bonus as it may severely limit search results). If you book a place online, it’s a good idea to contact them and confirm the request. And if you’re arriving later at night, ask to make sure it’s already in the room so that sleepy babe can go seamlessly from car seat to crib without waking up (Lol, right).

If you’re bringing your own travel crib, we’ve tried the Guava Lotus, Baby Bjorn Travel Crib, and the Graco Pack n’ Play. While it isn’t as carry-on friendly as the Guava, which folds up into a convenient backpack carrier, the Baby Bjorn is quicker and easier to set up and has worked well for our needs (road trips or short stays at a friend’s). We keep the affordable Graco Pack n’ Play at grandma’s, but found it to be notably heavier and clunkier.

how to find airbnb apartment rentals with cribs

2. Oh Sheeeeeeeeeeet

Hotel sheets can get washed with bleach and harsh, fragranced detergents. So bring your own crib sheet if your baby has sensitive skin. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have a familiar smell for them when sleeping in an unfamiliar environment. Just remember to take it when you leave.

3. 7:30 Doesn’t Have to be Bedtime for Everyone

One of the biggest struggles when staying at hotels is what to do after your baby goes down for an early bedtime, confining you to your dimly lit hotel room. While it might seem like the only choice is to order $50 of Panda Express on Uber Eats and watch Netflix shows on your phones in total darkness, there are other options!

For instance, frequent travelers could try one of these breathable pop up tents. Add a trusty portable white noise machine, and go about your business while baby sleeps in blackout conditions. This contraption is pricey and seems absurd at first, but has been a game changer for us and takes up about 1/5th of our bigger checked suitcase. We started using it at home when we have to share a room in our small city condo (have confirmed with other Boston parents at the neighborhood park, we are not alone). We just vent the lower flaps for extra circulation and keep the room cool as it can get 2-3 degrees warmer inside, and the small clear pocket works well with our baby monitor.

slumberpod traveling with a baby hotel black out tent

We were highly skeptical at first, but this blackout tent c/o has been a godsend (SLUMBERPOD10 for $10 off)

4. Room Location Strategery

Here’s a tip from many readers that we put to use on a recent trip: ask hotels for a room close to their lounge or restaurant/bar. Or for a room with a large closet that can fit the crib (keep the door slightly open) or with a corner that can be darkened. And, who knows, maybe you’ll get an upgrade to a multi-room suite. Just don’t forget the baby monitor. We’ve found that our non-WiFi one that we use at home is quick and easy to setup when traveling. If you don’t have a monitor, your phone can do double duty as a sound machine or a makeshift monitor by calling and muting (mute the phone that’s next to the baby or use Facetime if you have good WiFi).

5. Time Zones and Schedule Changes

Try to start shifting bedtime by 30 mins to an hour the day or two before you leave for your trip. When you arrive, try to get the baby (and yourself) on the new time zone as quickly as possible by fighting the urge to sleep at odd hours. Expose them to plenty of natural light during daytime hours and do things when they’re supposed to be up, and try to make it as dark as possible when it’s sleepy time.

6. Some Strollers = Portable Changing Table

This tip only works if your travel stroller can recline in some way, but rather than chance a restroom changing table coated in mysterious substances (it’s coffee, right? someone just spilled their coffee all over it?), we just find a secluded corner far away from public nostrils and do the changing on the partially unstrapped Yoyo stroller. If you’re going to brave the changing table, the Mens room one tends to be cleaner if it has one.

baby travel guide babyzen yoyo changing table
baby travel guide hotel room naptime
Left: Nifty Yoyo changing station // Right: Dark days prior to discovering the SlumberPod

7. Travel High Chair

Call your hotel ahead of time and see if they can provide a high chair. If there’s a restaurant in the hotel, we ask if they can borrow one to put in your room. We’ve had luck with this several times, and our two recent Airbnb rentals also provided high chairs!

If this isn’t a possibility, we started using the more lightweight, foldable Hiccapop travel booster once Nori could sit up well on her own. It’s great for various surfaces like grassy picnics, soft beach sand, and can also strap to a chair. The moulded Fisher Price booster seat was Nori’s first dining chair around 5 months, and is now kept at grandma’s house. It’s a trade off between the two in terms of compactness and support, so it really depends on your baby’s needs and ability to sit up unassisted (and your luggage space).

baby travel foldable high chair booster hiccapop
baby feeding travel high chair
 
Left: Hiccapop chair goes from dining table to beach picnics // Right: Fisher price seat & travel drying rack

8. SPLISH, SPLASH, TAKING A HOTEL BATH

If your baby isn’t doing bath time in a full-sized tub yet or can stand up on her own in a shower, you have a couple options. The easiest is to leave the accessories at home and just hold your baby in the shower with you (yes, they’re going to be slippery, and yes, you are going to get peed on). For sink baths, our friends recommend the Puj Flyte which folds flat and dries quickly, but Nori outgrew that within the first couple months. When we drive somewhere we’d bring this inflatable tub from Amazon, which is actually our everyday tub at home since it’s light and easy to move/store.


We received this affordable inflatable tub for travel, but have been using it as our main one at home too

Well, that’s all I’ve got. May these tips help you get the most out of your “vacation.” Which, as you know, isn’t really a vacation. It’s just taking care of your kids in a different city. Godspeed, and good luck on the return flight.

Hope you guys enjoyed these posts! In general, we’ve found that hospitality and tourism employees are very helpful and accommodating toward parents of babies, so if there’s something you need or forgot, it never hurts to ask!

Fellow parents, do you have any tips for hotel stays that you’ve found make life easier?

In case you missed it…

PART 1: AT THE AIRPORT // PART 2: ON THE AIRPLANE
 

24 thoughts on “Tips for Travel with a Baby // Pt. 3: Hotels & Accommodations

  • Reply Rena October 18, 2019 at 3:36 am

    I see you know how to travel and to stay in a hotel with your baby!
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

  • Reply Mireia October 18, 2019 at 5:52 am

    So lovely!

    Mireia from TGL

  • Reply Janine October 18, 2019 at 6:28 am

    Haha I just love the way nick writes 🙂 great post!
    Xx Janine

  • Reply Beth Diebold October 18, 2019 at 8:02 am

    Good morning! I am trying to get a winter work wardrobe set up this year and was wondering what is a good work appropriate coat that you could wear with dresses/skirts that are knee length in the winter? And what do you wear for shoes for commuting in when the snow is heavy between home and work? I can’t find anything on these two questions – would love to hear your thoughts on it!! Thank you 🙂

  • Reply April October 18, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    Lot of big cities have rental service that will rent toys strollers cribs. You name it. They deliver it right to the hotel. I usually have diapers shipped to people in the area where I’m going, if I know any. Makes it easier than bring a whole supply. Or I just hit target when we get where we are going. For road trips, I pack a big Rubbermaid tub with all her supplies. Make it easy for unloading the car.

  • Reply Hannah October 18, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    Lol at the watching Netflix in the dark. Definitely a big part of my baby life. Man, wishing I coulda employed some of these wonders before with my older kiddos!!

  • Reply karen w. October 19, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    A tip we used when staying in hotels – cheaper than the pod! We put baby’s crib next to the curtains. We used the blackout curtain around her crib to keep her area dark (assuming it’s already dark out) and a sound machine so we could still have lights on and do quiet activities in the room when it was her bedtime but not ours. When it was time for us to go to bed, we moved the blackout curtains to block the window and keep the room dark for all of us. thanks for all the tips!

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite October 23, 2019 at 5:06 pm

      Thanks for sharing this tip, Karen!

  • Reply Emilee October 19, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    Hi there,

    I am curious how you knew about nori’s eczema. My baby is knee deep in solids and when we started we went slow and i kept track of what he ate but he HATED food. So I just dove in giving him mixes and spices and he devoured them he has a new love of food. Anyway I’ve noticed a rash start on his back but it looked like dry skin it hasn’t gone away and keeps getting worst. I have a dr apt scheduled but I’d really love your experience.

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite October 23, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      Hi Emilee! We have a family history of eczema and it was pretty obvious since earlier on for Nori since she had very dry skin, scalp, and red patches that she’d itch until they bled or ooze. We’ve had many dermatologist visits through her first year and our doc had us do some allergy tests before she started solids and they came back positive (but are not always accurate) for many of the common allergens. I was told for most babies it could be affected by a variety of factors like climate change, food, detergents, dust, etc – hope your dr will be able to provide some insight and relief for your baby!

  • Reply Holly October 19, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    Thanks for these amazing travel posts! Not directly related, but did you ever get a footmuff for the stroller? I was wondering if there was a brand you recommended!

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite October 23, 2019 at 5:06 pm

      Hi Holly, which stroller do you have? We were lucky enough to receive the corresponding muffs for our strollers as gifts but you could use thick blankets, or I always hear good things about the 7am enfant muff that grows with your child.

  • Reply Susie October 20, 2019 at 9:56 am

    Is the rationale of asking for a room close to the hotel restaurant so that it is loud and can deepen out the baby if baby cries? Aren’t you worried that it would be loud in the room for you though?

    • Reply ainomiaka October 20, 2019 at 5:58 pm

      I think the theory is to be able to go somewhere else but still be within baby monitor range? That was my guess-I specifically bought one that I could go out to the backyard while kiddo slept.

  • Reply Susie October 20, 2019 at 9:57 am

    ^drown out baby

  • Reply MaryInMD October 20, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    A thought on leaving baby in room but within monitor range: I was traveling with my two when they were small, and a fire broke out in our hotel room while they were napping. I was only half asleep so I noticed the room was smoky before the smoke detector or fire alarm went off. Babies were sleeping through it without a peep. We all got out safely, phew! Not judging, just saying I personally experienced a hotel room incident, so it’s something to think about.

  • Reply Julia Pham October 20, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    Lol at “It’s just taking care of your kids in a different city. ” Great post, Nick!

    • Reply M October 22, 2019 at 8:42 pm

      Completely irresponsible to leave a baby alone in a hotel room. Even with a monitor: It is different than your home.

  • Reply Mich October 22, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    Wow, not usually a commentor but it is not safe to leave baby in a hotel or airbnb and leave your child alone, sleeping.

    Not judging, its just not safe. For how detail oriented you are about bringing your own sheets because of bleach, this seems like a gross oversight.

  • Reply Ayme Torres October 22, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    Wow!!! No offense but you guys are really complicating your life with all these extra gadgets…totally unnecessary !!! Lol I’m a mother of a 6 month old and travel at least once a month! In my experience parents really don’t really need most of these fancy gadgets.!!! It’s just unnecessary and an extra burden !! I guess you’re figure that out with your second child! Lol Baby sleeps easily whether is light out or not if your baby is on a routine sleep and feeding schedule. No need for a sleep tent and darkness ! Bring disinfectant wipes and use Wash clothes and hotel sink for a quick bath! Just need to be flexible and make it work ! Remember, just as hotel cribs are available,.. so are hotel strollers for rent! Bring crib bed sheets too? No thanks . Soft pajamas with and mittens and footies give skin enough protection from rough sheets. Lol good luck

    • Reply Jean | Extra Petite October 23, 2019 at 5:02 pm

      Each to their own. Our kid is on a good sleep schedule but definitely sleeps better and longer in darkness, plus we use the tent at home in our small condo. Just passing along an option out there plus gadget-free alternatives like asking for a hotel room with a large closet, crib and high chair.

      The crib sheets are a must for us due to eczema which I learned after bad experiences where her cheeks and scalp become inflamed. If something isn’t necessary for you, that’s fantastic. No need to knock it for someone else.

  • Reply Mary November 1, 2019 at 7:14 am

    Hi Jean, I have two children who have eczema (inherited the genes from the dad). Prior to having children I probably didn’t understand how it felt for people with atopy. But in looking after my children I have learnt so much. I completely agree about being careful with the detergent used as I know it can affect my daughter a lot. She has dust mite allergy so we also have to wash all sheets in 60 degree water, otherwise she coughs her way through sleep. What I am trying to say is that everyone’s health/body is different, and everyone’s baby is different. Sometimes I wish some of the posters here judge less and try to understand more. Anyhow please keep up your and Nick’s wonderful posts. I love them!

  • Reply Seema November 10, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    When staying at hotels, I’ve found the baby cloud monitor app to be really helpful. We just bring an old phone and set up in the room and we can watch the baby on our phones from the hotel bar or restaurant. Not an every night thing but a break from the 7:30 lights out for everyone 🙂

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