How to Stay Sane While Staying in a Hotel

Updated on February 15, 2017
J.G. asks from Chicago, IL
25 answers

We are going to a conference and staying at a water park for 3 nights. I am feeling very anxious about it. We decided to get a queen suite, so we will all be in the same room. Separate sleeping areas cost 3x the amount, but now I'm thinking we should have booked the more expensive option.

My biggest worry is this: my 3 year old still has a sleep window where if she isn't in bed around a certain time (7:45-8), she gets up super early. She is at that weird age where giant tantrums are the norm if she isn't well rested. We are working on quiet voices, but she is at a super loud age, and I don't want her to wake everyone up early. I can bring an ipad to keep her occupied, and she and I will share a bed.

So, tricks to get everyone to bed and to help everyone be well rested? I have a 9 and 7 year old too. Usually the 3 year old hits the bed by 8, and the other two around 8:30-8:45. They usually sleep 30-60 minutes later than their little sister too. I would suspect they will all be tired and we could do lights out at 8, and hubby and I could just read in bed.

No one in my family is pleasant when they aren't well rested. Suggestions on us having a pleasant trip?

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answers from New York on

You are overthinking this. Just go with the flow. If they are st water park all day, they should just drop at night.

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answers from Washington DC on

Don't stress and it will be fine.

It's a water park, you will ALL be exhausted by 8pm. The 9 and 7 year old can do something quiet while the 3 year old goes to sleep...lights out.

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answers from Portland on

I find when we travel and are active doing entertainment and activities, everyone is more tired, falls asleep more easily and sleeps more soundly than ever.

We have a big age difference between our oldest child and youngest. What we find is, we get ready for bed and then watch TV, and they drift off all around the same time. If not, the older ones can just watch TV until they drift off (or read a book). As for mornings, as long as you keep her occupied if she wakes early - it will be fine.

Ear plugs are always another option. When we travel for tournaments etc. and all stay in one room, we all use them except my husband, who snores.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I agree with everyone who stated that the rules at home won't apply on vacation. You will be more stressed out trying to keep everyone on the schedule you have at home, then actually enjoying the time away. Kids are very conditioned to social cues (getting home from work, dinner time,etc) to tell time. If those things aren't happening they don't have a pattern to follow.

If your husbsnd is available or when he is available, plan on tag teaming. One stays with young at bed time, other parent takes older out to swim or for ice cream. You all may even need a nap time or quiet time in middle of day. Just go with the flow.

Talk to older kids and let them know if younger has tantrum this is the plan. Buy older ones a special coloring book, reading book or app in case you do have to go back to room unexpectedly and you are the only adult on duty.

When my early riser one up before the rest of family we did as others mentioned...went and got me a coffee or explored hotel. The early riser loved the one-on-one time and exploring at his/own pace.

Kids love seeing mom and dad off schedule and having fun...remember that.

If you have a stroller (umbrella) you might want to bring in. The little one might get so exhausted you might be able to plop them in the stroller and watch the other two swim or walk around....much easier then carrying them around.

Hope you have a great time!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

You said three nights. THREE NIGHTS. What if no one sleeps at all for three nights....?!?! (Answer: who cares - it will not matter at all in the grand scheme of things.) Enjoy your trip to the water park.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

As a military family that has moved more then once with toddlers resulting in hotel stays of up to a month at at time, I understand the frustration but it is completely doable. For bed time have all the kids ready for bed at 8, there is no reason the older kids can not quietly read or do an activity book for half an hour until they feel sleepy. As for morning, you may have to all get up earlier, but if you all also retire a little earlier it should not leave anyone feeling overly tired. In the end, it is just a couple of days so even if things don't go perfectly, its really no big deal. Most important, just relax and try not to overanalyze!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

First, bring a box fan and run it all night long. White noise helps all of us sleep and does a very nice job of reducing all other noise.

Second, when your youngest is going to sleep, have the other 2 be somewhere other than in the hotel room. Maybe Dad could take them back to the pool for an hour or into the lobby to read for a bit. There is no reason that everyone has to be in the hotel room all evening.

Same thing in the morning. If your 3 year old gets up early, throw on some clothes and take her to breakfast, just the two of you. No reason she has to be in the room while others are sleeping. Maybe have a tote bag packed and near the door so that you can take her to the lobby and have her get dressed in a restroom before you take her to breakfast.

I tend not to sleep in when I'm in hotels. I just don't. I've been known to have clothes ready for myself in the bathroom. When I wake up I get dressed and grab my book and go down to the lobby. There's usually coffee and sometimes a continental breakfast. Even if there isn't, there are couches and I can read for a bit. It's more fun to do that than to sit in a dark hotel room while everyone else sleeps.

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answers from Boston on

Just a tiny hint. Bring clothes pins with you to super close the curtains. It keeps that sliver of light from waking the little ones.

And while I appreciate a poster suggesting that you make sure the little ones don't get out of the room by themselves, I encourage everyone to never block a door with a chair.

Have fun!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Abilene on

We travel extensively and have since the kids were babies. Sometimes you do have a fussy kid and it seems so stinking loud because you're hyper focused on not disturbing others. Some things that have worked for us:
Snacks and drinks in the room.
Small fan for white noise
Getting more exercise right after dinner
Playing the whisper game
Card games/dice games
Teaching your kids there are people in all those rooms with doors so it's important to be a good neighbor.

Whisper game. When my kids were little I would tell them when we entered the room we were going to whisper and see who could do it the longest.

Fan for white noise - invaluable. This helps with all the sounds you're not used to. Pay attention when you check into your room to the noise the refrigerator makes when it cycles through. They can be loud, especially at night when you're not used to sleeping with that sound. If it is loud, you can request a different room or ask them to switch refrigerators with another room. I have purchased $8 fans from Walmart when we've flown somewhere to have that noise. Also you can set the a/c on constant fan.

Card games like concentration or go fish or ? I know your 3 is young but you could have her sit in your lap and lay cards down or say go fish when it's time. Dice games are fun and you can make those up as you go along. Coloring is another fun activity and we used to buy those watercolor books where all you need is a damp paintbrush for it to work.

If you go with the games/coloring book, I kept those as a surprise in my suitcase. I would say, okay, almost bedtime. As soon as you get jammies on and teeth brushed, I have a fun thing for us to do.

Most hotels have blackout curtains that are lovely and make the room very dark. You might want to bring a flashlight (another fun activity to look at books with a flashlight) or nightlight so you can make your way to the bathroom if needed during the night.

I know you realize the kids will pick up on your apprehension. I would start telling them how excited you are to be going and you want to practice hotel voices. Bring the park up on computer and show them how much fun it's going to be.

Make it a wonderful memory. Mine are 17 and 13. It flies by.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

We've stayed in various waterpark resorts that also have conference accommodations. I've done so with my kids and with other adults only. I have stayed in the rooms like your Queen mini-suite, and I've stayed in the multi-room suites/condos.

If you can afford it, and the resort will allow a switch, get a multi-room. Besides being able to accommodate everyone's sleep needs, another advantage, depending on where you're staying, is that the nicer rooms are not directly in the path of the waterpark(s) and other fun stuff, so they are much quieter (better-built walls & doors) with 90% less foot traffic. The cheaper rooms have constant stomping up and down the hallways until 11pm or so.

Potential Drawback: Off the busy path also often means a much farther walk to get to the fun stuff. If your kids are not used to walking anywhere, this might be a big problem depending on their dispositions. It is very common to see kids whining in the corrodors of these places because they are tired and still have a quarter-mile to get back to the room. People do bring strollers for the younger ones.

When I go with the kids, I get a suite that has a kitchen and bring groceries. I know many people don't like to cook when they are on a trip, but doing so can easily save $300+ over three days. That tradeoff is what enables us to afford the more comfortable accommodations.

If you're going to stick with the Queen mini, and it is the kind with a pull-out couch behind a half-wall towards the back of the room, I would recommend using that bed for the 3-year-old as it is partially separated from the rest of the room and farthest from the foot traffic noise.

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answers from Los Angeles on

The more you stress over this? the more tension there will be in the room. Stop obsessing. Stop trying to control every aspect of the stay. Fly by the seat of your pants.

Have your youngest on a fold up (most hotels have these and will bring up after check in). Stick with your routine for bed time. Since you'll all be in one space? Have cards or other quiet activities for your older ones to do.

I don't know anyone who actually gets "well rested" in a hotel. I know that I'm alert to all the noises and people in the hall way. it's not my bed either. so that bothers me.

Make sure your kids have their lovies. Keep your routine. Don't stress.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Frankly, I don't know anyone at any age that sleeps well at a hotel. So just wing it. Pretty sure everyone will be tired enough to all sleep at the same time. If not and she wakes everyone up an hour early, well, so be it. Its just something that happens when you are away from home. Good luck.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

We've done this so many times! It will be fine! What I suggest is you put the 3 year old to bed at her usual time. The big kids and Dad hang in the lobby, watch movies, read, play on the laptop/ipad, do art or whatever. Then they quietly come to bed at their normal time after the 3 year old is asleep. In the morning when the 3 year old gets up you or your husband get up with her and take her down to the lobby, eat, take a walk, etc. The one who stays behind will text when the big kids are up.

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answers from Miami on

At 8:00, the lights go off. If the lights are on, everyone will be bouncing around with "ants in the pants". You have to be really tough on the crowd and say "No fun tomorrow if you don't be quiet NOW."

They WILL be tired. Maybe even over-tired. But it's YOUR job to bring them down to a restful state. At 7:15, teeth brushed and everyone in pj's. TV off. The older ones read to themselves. You read to the younger ones. Keep voices down. Keep the lights low. At 8, lights off for everyone.

You set the tone. The older kids can just adjust. They will be very tired anyway and can use the extra rest...

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Just make sure everyone is exhausted and fed at the end of the day and they'll sleep like they've never slept before.
Home schedules pretty much go out the window when you're not at home and you'll have trouble reestablishing the old home pattern once you get back home.
It's just the way it is.
This is going to be a grand adventure!
Be open to the possibility that nothing will go as planned and it'll still turn out alright anyway.
Go with the flow and don't stress over it!
Have a relaxing cup of herbal tea when ever you can.
If you've got an ipad, then download Rain Rain - it has soothing sounds that are great to sleep too

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

You are aware you cannot control the people in the rooms next to you? Have you even read the rules yet? Most of the water park/hotel places actually have quiet times because most people let their kids run wild. I believe on weekends that is 1:00 in the morning to 7:00 in the morning and the hotel staff will do nothing to quiet a room down for you unless it is in that window.

So here you are worrying about the kids in your room.

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answers from Santa Fe on

I just read some of your questions over the last couple of years you had and wondered if you did go on the trip to Disney you considered doing in Jan 2017?

I have similar age kids. We go often on trips (business or/and family) and just go with the flow. It always works out. Tell your kids what you expext them to do after dinner and maybe let them set a timer on the iPad and they can follow up with the bed rules you have set up in advance. They will be so excited to make it all right for all the fun they experience with the water park and more.

You will have a wonderful trip. Take the stress thoughts out and enjoy your husband and kids to build happy memories.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Binghamton on

I'm sure you or someone already mentioned earphones for ipads. Other thing is if you didn't already try this is ive found two separate but adjoining regular rooms can be cheaper than suites. I'm talking two room suites where one room is a living room with pull out but maybe check if it's not much more than your one room suite. I'm a bad sleeper so we always do this or I'd be miserable the whole trip. My kids would be fine though and I bet yours will be too. They also may take naps if they are getting over tired. Adrenaline from the excitement will help the first day or two and then do a nap at some point.

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answers from Beaumont on

Where are the kids during the day? The waterpark? If so they should be exhausted at bedtime. Regarding the 3 year old, just keep her as close to her routine as possible. We traveled a lot when mine were that age and they loved those 8 x 10 cards that you would put shoelaces through to make designs? Good, non-blue screen activity that would make her concentrate and get tired more easily. Have fun!!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Bring comforts of home like their special blankets & stuffies to cuddle up to.
Walking a lot will help them become tired. How about if you and the little one come back to the hotel first & you try to get her to bed before the 2 older ones come back w/dad? Tell them to come in quietly 30-45 mins later.
Maybe if you sleep in the bed w/her that will help, too.
As for the morning, bring the iPad. Also, think about having her and your clothes ready so in the early morning you could quietly change in the bathroom then go down to the café for some coffee for you and cereal for her w/the iPad. Some
hotels have comfy lobbies w/big overstuffed chairs. Bring books & flashlights for you and hubby or kindle/iPads to read in bed.

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answers from Boston on

The water park will exhaust them, as others have said. I'd buy a couple of those head lamps (like runners wear) and have the 2 older kids in bed with books (no electronics) when the little one goes to sleep at 8. Total quiet. I think the older ones will drift off pretty quickly. And there's nothing wrong with telling the older ones that they are getting up early when their sister gets up. We sometimes take one of those air filters to provide constant "white noise" because hotel AC/heaters are often on-off based on the room temperature vs. a constant sound. It helps drown out the hallway noise of other guests too.

I do think you have to get a handle on the tantrums too - if you have to, you two parents alternate taking the early riser child out of the room right away - take a walk around the hotel, get breakfast, whatever, while the other 3 sleep. That's what my husband and I did when our son was little. If you aren't taking an umbrella stroller, reconsider - it's a great way to walk around the hotel grounds even in the early morning hours. It can sometimes put a tired out preschooler to sleep too, especially after a busy morning and early afternoon of water play. A nap (even if she doesn't usually do it) might help everyone.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Ummm, water park, all evening after dinner. Kids passed out and no worries?

Water park during the day and kids distracted from temper tantrums?

You're worried about stuff that probably won't happen. If it does take her to the car and sit with her while she screams. Drive around a bit if you like. If she's tired she'll fall asleep.

Be sure to figure out a way that the kids can't open the door if they wake up while you're asleep. Put a chair under the door knob or something. I usually put a door knob protector on the inside when we stayed in hotels and we had younger kids. That way they couldn't open the door until I wanted them to open the door.

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answers from New York on

I'd say get the extra sleeping space if it provides a separate bedroom with a door that closes (not just a "divider"). We have traveled a lot with kids of all ages over the last 30 years and now with our 3 yr old granddaughter. We learned a long time ago that kids need to be well rested to enjoy a vacation - and parents need a place to unwind if at all possible as well.

We have always done the separate bedroom. So on our trip to the Dells with 7 of us, ranging from nearly 3 to 25, plus myself and my husband, we had the separate bedroom with 2 Queens and then the main room with two queens. Baby was put to bed by mom at her regular time. Our 17 yr old (special needs so goes to bed early as well) went to bed in the other Queen once baby was asleep. My husband and baby's mom (our daughter) are also early to bed folks, so after playing some cards and enjoying adult company, they headed in that same room to sleep (my hubby with our son and my daughter with the baby). I stayed I in the other room with the teens to make sure no one got any crazy late night ideas, but also I can't sleep in hotels very well so I made sure I was close to the door in case I needed to walk around in the middle of the night. We also made sure that baby and mom had early morning snacks in their room so when she woke up at 6, she had a light breakfast and some screen time until everyone was up no later than 8 a.m.

I've never had an instance where it went "well" when we tried to cram everyone in the same room to save a few bucks. Did we survive? Sure! Are those the best vacations we had over the last 30 years - nope, definitely not.

My husband and I also feel like we deserve a separate place to unwind. If we have littles with us, they all get the bedroom and we sleep in the main area. If we have older kids with, we get the bedroom and they get the main area. Just depends on whom all we have with us on any given trip.

Good luck!

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answers from Chicago on

Last time we went to the Dells is when my youngest was 3. I said NEVER again! Just a few minutes ago, I booked our Dells trip but the youngest is now 9. No advice, best of luck!



answers from Pittsburgh on

I had a little one who woke up early, no matter what. We frequently took walks around the public parts of the hotel early in the morning - the lobby, outside paths, etc. Anything to get him out of the room where he would wake up all the neighbors.

To get them to sleep at different times in the same room, turn off the TV, and everyone read. If you want, you could get small dollar store flashlights and let the older ones read under the covers to keep the room dark enough for the littlest to fall asleep.

I think you'll be fine. Have fun.

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