Hotel Sleeping Arrangements With a Family of Four

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One of the most important things to me whether we are at home or on the road is sleep. I don’t know if it is because I never really recovered from having two very poorly sleeping infants where I almost lost my mind from sleep deprivation, or whether I was just born this way, but a good chunk of my decisions revolves around getting enough sleep. I’ve missed out on numerous fun nighttime outings that were passed my bedtime, left before things really got rolling, and even passed on entire trips, because if mama is too tired, ain’t nobody happy, or something like that. I seriously just function especially poorly without enough sleep, and I’m usually running on a borderline sufficient amount of rest to begin with, even when prioritizing it so highly.

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This importance of sleep spills over to the kids too, because nothing ruins a good time faster than a tired and grumpy kid. I basically will do whatever is necessary for everyone to get enough sleep, and that has led to some non-traditional sleeping arrangements at home because I don’t care where everyone is sleeping, as long as they are sleeping, which brings me to sleeping arrangements on our trips…

We are on a trip right now, and after posting a picture of our standard room on social media, I received a few questions about how we manage sleeping arrangements in hotels. The general consensus from those asking was that it is a challenge for adults to share one space with kids because what do you do after the kids pass out around 8PM or so? I don’t have all those answers, but now that you understand a bit about my relationship with sleep, I am happy to share a few thoughts on sleeping arrangements in hotels.

Four heads in two beds

Back when we only had one kiddo, I vastly preferred suites to standard rooms for all of the obvious reasons, but also because there were two rooms so that those that needed sleep at the moment didn’t have to be in the same space as those that didn’t. Often it was that when C needed a nap, Josh and I didn’t necessarily have to play the quiet game, but it also worked as a second retreat if someone was snoring too loudly, or if someone was up early and didn’t want to just lay down anymore, needed to work, or whatever. It was great for the most part, especially on trips when we spent several waking hours a day in the hotel, which absolutely happens with little kids along for the ride. This trend of trying to get a suite continued when we had our second child and she was still young enough that we tried to have her in a crib. Sometimes we could even convert a bathroom to a nursery and still have plenty of room for everyone.

Baby travel hack!

However, now we have two children instead of one child and a baby, we have long since said goodbye to cribs, and we legitimately need (at least) two real beds on our travels. Sadly, this means that even if we can somehow secure a suite, that it isn’t always actually the best set-up for us since 99% of the time a suite only has one real bed and rollaways and pullout beds typically range from horrible to only mildly terrible. At this point even if one person was on a rollaway, that still leaves three others to arrange, and three in a bed is one over my preferred maximum occupancy limit of two.

With a toddler and second grader, most of the time we simply book a standard room with two queen beds and that will work out well enough. With four people in a few hundred square feet our sleep is usually not stellar since at least someone will have a snoring or coughing fit, wake up crying, need to get up to go to the bathroom, or simply fall out of a strange bed, but with a sound machine app on my phone at the ready, we just cross our fingers that we all get enough sleep to call it good. It isn’t perfect, but there isn’t another better practical solution since I’m not going to shell out for two connecting hotel rooms most of the time when we don’t really need it.

When I was recently asked on social media about how we manage family sleeping arrangements in hotel rooms, the concern was largely centered around what do the adults do in a little room after the kids need to go to sleep at 8PM or so. These adults are clearly more fun than me because I am plenty happy to go to sleep when my kids do, though on a trip it is usually at closer to 10PM than 8PM. I’m also more than happy to lay down at naptime with my kiddos on vacation, and if I really can’t or don’t want to sleep for some reason then I just wait until they are passed out and fire up the laptop to start working, which is exactly how this post came to life.

I know that around this phase of life some folks start transitioning to obtaining larger lodging through Airbnb or similar, and while that can be a solid strategy, a standard hotel room still works well enough for our family of four that I’d rather use/earn points and stay somewhere with full amenities than rent an apartment or condo. When traveling with extended family or friends we have loved renting a whole house, but it just isn’t really necessary when it is just the four of us or even just the girls, Grandma, and me as it is this week. I think if you have three kids or more then what does and does not work shifts.

I’d love to hear how other families manage sleeping arrangements on the road!

 

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

Comments

  1. Family of five here. 8,5, and 2. Connecting rooms are now our standard however I really like the suite with a connecting bedroom.

  2. Same as you, two queens in same room. As to what we do after the kids turn in, a tablet with audio splitter and amp to watch movies in bed.

  3. My kids are 13 and 10 (girl and boy). They have only shared a bed in hotel rooms a few times. My daughter, especially when she was younger, is a kicker and no one wants to share a bed with her!

    We used to travel with this little pop tent, air mattress thing called a Peapod that my son loved to sleep in. He actually just gave it up a couple of years ago. It took up some space in the luggage, but it was very lightweight. We now bring an aerobed mattress and the kids take turns using that, but they are starting to balk at that idea. We’ve run into issues lately where we’ve requested a rollaway, but the hotel won’t accommodate in a standard hotel room that already has two beds because of fire code regulations.

  4. OUr biggest struggle is with hotels that only have doubles (not queens) We have a 5 year old girl and 9 year old boy. They hate sharing a bed (especially a double) and will fight a lot at bedtime. The alternative is for each of us to sleep with a kid but that’s not fun either in a double as they kick and roll a lot. So we’ve resigned to bringing an aerobed when we can. That seems to work pretty well for now but it’s kind of a pain to pack.

  5. I wonder if you run into issues with max occupancy when travelling outside the country (e.g. Japan, Europe). Some hotels in Japan seems to only accommodate two adults despite having two doubles/queens.

  6. Once our girls got a little older than yours, it was at least two adjoining rooms. More cost to be sure, but the extra bathroom was also worth the exspense. Also, we started doing the VRBO and Airbnb.

  7. I have 2 girls as well, who are 5 years apart. (But they’re now 29 & 24 now). We just made them share beds. That worked so-so until the older one got into high school (but she was a kicker, too and even kicked the younger one out of bed.) Sometimes we got an Embassy Suites with 2 beds–we shared the bedroom with one daughter and the other would sleep on the pullout sofa. But on the one of the last vacations we took when they were still teens, we splurged the points and got a second connecting room. They were so excited. If they only knew just how EXCITED we were, too, to have our own room! 🙂 However, we also bought Marriott timeshare units. As they have gotten older, it’s a great way for family vacations.

  8. Family of 5. We brought along an air mattress for many years. As the kids got older that wasn’t Practical so we get two rooms. Now they are 3 large teenage boys and even this isn’t great because they don’t want to share a bed. I try to get a rollaway whenever we can. We refuse to let one of them sleep in our room though so we always get a king!

  9. Do your girls share a bed, or do you do one adult + kid per bed? We’ve always been paying for rollaways up to now so our boys would each have a bed but I’m curious how they would do sharing.

  10. We have tried the sound machine app, but it’s not loud enough for our crew. We usually squeeze the sound (fan version) machine in one of the bags. However, no biggie since we can check 8 bags with the kids on our SWA companion passes. 😉

  11. 3 Kids, so 5 person family.

    Hotel = 2 rooms (2 girls is in 1, 3 boys in 1) it works really well. With the right attitude it’s fun a a chance to bond with your kids.

    Airbnb = similar to home arrangements at a MUCH more affordable price. This is where arrival+ and venture come in to play. The game changes a little here.

  12. Glad to see the response from the 3 kid families as baby #3 joined our family earlier this year. We survived a month-long road trip this summer and stayed at 8 different hotels with the 5 of us in one room. Manageable since the baby could be in the pack ‘n play, but I know that will change when he’s older. I like the idea of having more space at a lower price via an air bnb/vrbo, but I don’t really want to shop/cook/clean while on ‘vacation.’ I can do that at home for free.

    As a side note, this week the 3yo told me he likes hotels because they have breakfast. Because, you know, there’s no breakfast at our house. *grrr*

    • My kids are obsessed with the pancake machine at Holiday Inn Express. Every time we’re staying in a hotel they ask if it’s going to have a pancake machine! LOL.

  13. 4 here with 6 year old girl and 8 year old boy. Luckily they don’t mind sharing a bed, but in a few years they cant anymore. If its more than 1 night, we always get a suite (Embassy Suites, Residence Inn, etc) or two connecting rooms. We dont mind all sharing a room with 2 queen beds if its one night usually as a quick stop, but if we are trying to enjoy vacation, we need our sleep and our space. The hardest part is somewhere not in the US where that almost always means 2 connecting rooms.

  14. We get two rooms and bring our nanny along for most travel.

    By way of AirBnb, we’ve had 7 host cancellations over 3 trips. Will never use that terrible service ever again.

      • Understandable, but after 16 times using Airbnb, have only had one cancellation and that was a full 2 months before the reservation.

        In my experience, centering on places which have solid reviews (at least 10), and getting a good and quick response to your request are the signs you need to book an Airbnb with confidence.

        One time our family stayed in a hotel (because of a flight cancellation) was a disaster with the then 4 year old waking up at 3 AM and not willing to go back to sleep because we were all in the room. My wife played with him in the bathroom until 6 AM.

  15. We recently made our first trip with 2 kiddos (2 years & 6 months,) to NYC. After the first day and a half of very little sleep (baby was up 6 times the first night,) and 2 year old would not nap, we were almost ready to call it quits and head home. Then i remembered your post about making a makeshift nursery in the bathroom. We moved the baby’s pack n play in there the 2nd night and sleep was so much better than us all being in the same room! We ended up having a great time after this small change to sleep arrangements. Thanks for all your advice, it really makes a difference.

    • Oh gosh! You know, one of our worst sleep trips was also to NYC. Baby was six months old at the time and it was terrible and the crib didn’t fit in the bathroom. Ugh! So glad to be able to help even a little!

  16. We’ve traveled to Europe when our daughter was 1.5 yrs. old and always asked/booked the biggest possible room. Rarely was it a suite but a large room. Our daughter when she was in a crib was usually in the furthest/darkest part of the room. We would often times sit in the dark waiting for her cries to stop before we opened up the iPad. We never ventured out after 8 pm, by then we were too tired from a day of sightseeing.

    On trips to warm weather resorts and locales we’ve placed her crib in large walk in closets, bathrooms and even have used the pull out bed. We also feel grateful for balconies or patios so we can escape for a little time. With new rooms she takes time to adjust, often talking through the night until 10 or 11 PM. We have trips planned to Cancun, SE Asia and Cayman in the next 9 months along with visits back home to the grandparents in California. For the Cancun trip we booked a villa, 2 bd/2 ba, overkill but a great deal. Still planning the SE Asia trip so we’ll see what we come up with.

  17. Two kiddos, boy and a girl, now teenagers and have never liked sharing a bed. We joined Gold Passport/WOH because we can look at the hotels, and either get a suite upgrade (one kid on the couch, one on a rollaway) or book a connecting room for no additional money using our points. Works out great and I never feel like I’m “paying” for more space than one hotel room. I’m careful to call hotels to ask about a rollaway when I’m booking so that we can figure it out.

    Prime example — just returned from Japan where we stayed in the PH Tokyo in a TSU suite (with two very luxe rollaways!) and then booked two rooms at HR Kyoto (no suites there). Second room on points of course. Also with two teenagers, the breakfast benefit with Hyatt is an enormous savings for our family. We are spoiled now!

  18. Family of five here; 5 Y/O twins (boy & girl) and one precocious 3 Y/O girl. Typically, what my wife and I used to spend upgrading to a top floor/club level room with a premium view is now spent on two standard (boring) rooms with queen sized beds!

  19. We have two girls, ages 8 & 4. The kids are able to share a bed in hotel rooms now, which is great. When the younger one outgrew a pack-n-play at 2, we had a couple years of one adult/one kid per bed because she just could not settle down sharing a bed with her sister. Now that she’s older they can successfully bed share, which also makes it easier for my wife and I to hang out on the balcony/patio (which we always try to have in warm weather) and not wake a kid when we go into bed ourselves.

  20. With a family of 4(Boy 12, Girl 10) we don’t even consider hotels unless we absolutely need to. We stay in timeshares that are either similar in price or cheaper then staying in a hotel. Having 1700 square feet plus two bedrooms and 2 bathrooms are the only way we travel. We will even book a 3 bedroom for the 4 of us when the price is right.

  21. I grew up traveling in a family of six, are we staying in a single room until the children became teenagers. Now I do likewise with my own family of six.

    1. A queen or double bed becomes a “king” when used width wise. Easily accommodates 3 kids.
    2. Noisemakers/ sound app
    3. Use the additional lounge chair as a bed (Disney) or put a 4th kid on folded up comforters.
    4. This will work fine if you act as if it’s normal.

  22. A trick I learned from a friend…if the kids that are little and less than the 60” or the width of a queen/double bed – you can have 3 sleep in one bed by turning them the length of the bed. Just tuck the sheets in on the long side. Our kids never mind and they each have a little more space. We prefer to all be in the same room for safety reasons and the ages of our children. We are a family of 6 and sometimes we just make it work! A double bed suite with pull out sofa (2-2-2) is always ideal for our family-or a 2 bedroom. It all depends on the trip-and the “quality” of rest we really need! Who really sleeps well away from home?!?

  23. Just a family of 3 – 5 year old girl and we don’t stress too much. We’ve had suites with just a king bed and it’s worked, or a king with a rollaway, or two queen beds. My daughter prefers to sleep with me, so dad either ends up on the rollaway or has a queen to himself.

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