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If you read this site with any regularity, it is no secret that I am am very partial to hotel suites over regular rooms. In part I’m sure it is just because I like to be a bit spoiled on vacation, but in large part it is because of very practical reasons. Many of our trips are with our young daughter, and that means naptimes (usually), and relatively early bedtimes.
When you are at your own home, naptimes and early bedtimes are a Godsend as you are able to put your little one down for their nap, and then you are able to get things like laundry, cleaning, or working done. Then once you put them down for the night, you are able to watch shows with a parental guide rating higher than G and maybe even spend a few minutes with your spouse. Of course, this is all in a perfect world, we all know that little kids and sleeping can be a beast all of its own…
However, the beauty of naptime and bedtime at home, does not translate all that well to when you are on vacation. In large part this is because you are usually all in a shared small space, and this limits what you can do once the little one dozes off. I’ve written about this some before, but an email from a reader I received over the weekend reminded me that it isn’t an issue I have covered recently.
Got any tips for staying in the same room (not a suite) with a 2.5 year old? How do you handle naps and (relatively) early bedtimes? That’s my wife’s only concern about staying at the Swan and Dolphin, especially since we are only SPG Gold (and likely wouldn’t be able to get a suite).
I have no magic solution to this common dilemma, but I do have a few tips:
- If you can, get a suite. Sometimes a suite will be cost prohibitive, but you would be surprised to learn how small the price difference can be to go from a room to a suite, especially if the hotel has a lower occupancy rate while you are there. Sometimes you will be offered online e-Standby rates for suites when you make your reservation for prices that can be much lower than if you booked the suite directly. Of course, this does not guarantee the suite will be available, only that if the suite is available you will pay that price for the upgrade. Many programs like Hyatt, Starwood, etc. will allow you to book a suite with points, and some will allow you to pay a surcharge in points to go from a standard room to a suite. With Hyatt this can be quite reasonable at 6,000 points surcharge for four nights to go from a standard room at the Daily Rate to a suite (at non-resort properties). My best success has come from just negotiating with the property for the confirmed upgrade ahead of time. A few times I have scored the suite free (in large part thanks to hotel elite status), and other times I pay a cash co-pay for the upgrade. Of course, you can also choose to only look at properties that offer suites, such as Embassy Suites or similar.
- If you can’t get a suite, try to get a larger room. This is where even mid-tier elite status such as Hilton HHonors Gold status from having the Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card can help you out. Even having a deluxe room that has a bit more space, and perhaps a couch or small sitting area can be better than a very small room when it comes to naptime. If I’m being honest, even a room that has a larger bathroom can be helpful. I would say something like this when calling in advance, or at check-in. “We are traveling with our baby who still takes naps and goes to bed super early. We have Hilton Gold status, and wonder if there is there anyway you could help us out and give us a slightly bigger room so that we aren’t playing the quiet game quite as much while she sleeps?” Say please and look pathetic and exhausted, which should be easy if you have a young child! If they have the space, they may try extra hard to give you a bigger room. If they are totally full then obviously they won’t be able to help much.
- Put baby in the corner, or even the bathroom. If your little one is still in a crib, consider putting the crib in a corner (away from anything dangerous like wires, cords, etc.) or even in the bathroom if they will tolerate it. If you are able to do this, then you don’t have to play the quiet game as much during naptime since they are a little bit sheltered from the rest of the room.
- Rest yourself. I wanted to stab people with spoons when they used to tell me “sleep when your baby sleeps” at home because there was always way too much to do, but this is a strategy I have used and enjoyed while on vacation. If you ard your spouse are both on the trip, then you can take turns resting during naptime while the other goes out and enjoys some of what the area has to offer either by themselves or with the other kids. Don’t fight it, just get some rest.
- Do quiet activities. If you can’t or don’t want to sleep, then do quiet activities like catching up on your favorite miles and points blogs, read a book, et cetera. Unless your kid is an insanely light sleeper, your activities can generally get a bit louder once they go into deeper sleep. You can then chat with your partner, watch a movie with low volume, etc. I have also been known to enjoy some snacks, meals, and drinks in the room during a nap or two.
- Take your louder activities to the bathroom or patio. If your child is sleeping in the main part of the room, and you need or want to partake in a slightly louder activity, then move it to the restroom or on a patio, if available, and shut the door most of the way. Just make sure you will be able to quickly hear your little one when they wake up, as that can sometimes be a scary process in an unfamiliar setting.
My best advice is embrace being forced to get more rest on vacation and don’t fight it. Unless you hire a babysitter or similar, you aren’t going to be out late at night or have a go-go-go all day pace the way you might have had in your pre-child vacation days. It is smart to think through what it will look with a baby or young child sleeping and living in the same one room as you, but it has it’s upsides as well. That said, if you can secure a suite or alternate lodging with a bit more space to spread out, that is a good thing to consider.
I will tell you that now that our daughter is bigger, on family trips we either try to get a suite with a king bed and a pull-out/rollaway, or we get one room with two queen beds. I usually end up sleeping with the little one. It isn’t overly romantic, but it does work, and it is fun!
What do you other traveling families do when sharing one room with little kids who have naps and early bedtime?
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