We had our first hotel stay with Liam a few weeks back on our trip to the Sweetgrass Inn in South Carolina. It included a 4+ hour drive and a hotel stay. It was the first time he’d slept anywhere but his own crib in months and the first time that the three of us would be sharing a hotel room. I had very low expectations, but it went way better than I thought! Some of that is just due to him having a good sleep foundation, but I also think that the gear that we brought along with us helped. I wanted to share what worked well for us and what was worth it to bring along.
For the car:
I was nervous for the car ride. It had been months since we’d done a longer drive and he wasn’t mobile last time we did one. I was prepared for lots of stops, some tears, and stress, but he did really well! We stopped about halfway to grab lunch and let him stretch his legs, which helped break it up. He was at just the right age to try introducing an iPad (with this holder) for a little entertainment and did pretty well with using that as a distraction. We brought some brand new travel-friendly toys for him to play with and plenty of snacks. We planned for the car ride to start just before his morning nap, so that he would sleep for some of it. He played for about the first 30 minutes, then dozed off for an hour. It was nice to knock off that first stretch of the trip with him sleeping! Mike and I took turns riding in the back with him to help with doling out snacks and to play with him. He liked having one of us back there with him.
He got annoyed with being in his car seat towards the end of the trip, but was easy to bribe with some snacks and peek-a-boo. Overall, he was a champ!
For the hotel:
In my ideal hotel-stay situation, we would have a separate space or area that we could put Liam’s pack-n-play, so that Mike and I could still hangout a bit after he goes to bed. For this trip, we were in just one room where there wasn’t any extra place to put him, so we all slept about 10 feet from one another. It ended up being perfectly fine! Mike and I had a little balcony to hang out on after Liam went to bed at about 7p, so we were able to still enjoy some time together.
As far as his sleep went, we tried to recreate his home sleep environment as closely as possible, which played a big role in him sleeping well. He slept in his pack-n-play with a Slumberpod over it. If you ask me, a pack-n-play cover or tent like this is 100% essential. It not only blacks-out his sleep zone, but more importantly, makes it so that he can’t see us! It got fairly dark in our room with the window coverings, but he would’ve definitely been able to see us anytime he woke up throughout the night. We brought his sound machine from home, too. In retrospect, we could’ve just used the portable one that we brought for the car, but I don’t think it hurt having the exact sound that he’s used to while sleeping.
We did his usual bedtime routine, but opted for a shower instead of a bath. Then we got him in his pajamas and sleep sack, gave him his last bottle, and snuggled a bit before putting him in his pack-n-play.
Another element that helped him sleeping was that we were very active during the day! Since we had the pool and beach to enjoy, he enjoyed a lot of fun during his awake time, making him good and tired for sleeping.
We used our travel monitor with a wide angle lens to be able to see inside the Slumberpod, in case he woke up in the night. The Slumberpod comes with a little pocket to stick your monitor camera in, but I found that we needed to add the wide angle lens so actually see him – the stock lens that the monitor comes with was too zoomed in.
So, there’s a quick rundown of the things we brought and what worked well for us. We have two longer trips this summer, so it was nice to have this short one to sort of get our “sea legs” with traveling with him. My best advice would be to set your expectations appropriately. I’ve shared this before, but I always have low expectations for new things with him. In 9/10 cases, whatever it is goes smoothly and works out just fine!