Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Traveling with Small Children

What a coincidence! I'm supposed to author a book on this very subject...unfortunately, I can't say I'm very successful at it (photo: johnbardwell).

We returned late last week from a family vacation in Carlsbad, California. I had booked a one-bedroom condo (2 bedrooms were unavailable) in December 2009, so we knew this trip was coming. We didn't make the decision to go, however, until 12 hours before our departure. Our recent trip to Disneyland in October, characterized by total sleep deprivation, was fresh in mind.

I spoke with a friend, Kathryn Koenig, who had offered some helpful advice on how to sleep in a hotel room with a crib-trained infant so i was optimistic that it could work. Co-sleeping babies seem to adapt better to hotel-room life in my experience, than crib-sleeping kids. I had one of the former and two of the latter. Babies who sleep in their own bed and room find it difficult to fall and stay asleep with the noise of one-room accommodation. Snoring, coughing, TVs, waking kids and nighttime potty trips always wake up my now one-year-old daughter.

Kathryn opened up two possibilities to me: get two adjoining hotel rooms; put the baby or children in one and parents in the other. This is a great option for people who travel frequently for work and have accrued oodles of loyalty points--priceline rates can also make this an affordable option. A second choice was to put the baby's crib/pack and play in the bathroom (or a large closet for that matter) and use the lobby toilet if you have any middle-of-the-night needs. The latter is tough if you've got other small kids in the room who need to use the bathroom during the night--i know my 3-year old would be too hysterical to walk to the lobby. We technically had two rooms in this condo, so in the worst case scenario i figured the baby would get the bedroom and the 4 of us would sleep in the room with the pull-out couch--but we hoped it wouldn't come to that.

Of course it did come to that. By the second night, we were ready to cut short the trip and fly home. Instead we moved the king-sized mattress to the living room and joined the other two girls. In short, this became another sleepless trip with the baby (even given her own room) and our last voluntary jaunt until the big trip to France in May!

How do you sleep with an infant in a hotel or single room and manage to get any sleep?? I would love to hear!


  1. Sounds like she has your wrapped around her little finger! The baby got her own room, while the rest of the family had to share the living room. Smart little girl indeed :)

  2. I use the "birdcage" method. I have the hotel provide a small crib, I bring my sound machine and put it under the crib and then I have a very large black tablecloth that I put over the crib. Between the darkness from the tablecloth and the sound from the sound machine, my son seems to be able to block out most outside noise. The difference in my situation is there are no other children making noise, just careful adults.