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Can you spare a share?

Family travel in hotels is weird. When you’re home everything is where you need it to be and you know exactly what to expect when your kids walk through the door. When you’re checking into a hotel with kids it’s totally different. Family travel is just different from business or solo travel in general and if you’ve never gone traveling with kids this all might seem very foreign to you, but that’s okay. Let us enlighten you as to what checking into a hotel with kids is actually like and why we feel the need to share family travel tips about it.

Of all the family travel tips to share, how to master the hotel stay is one of the most important. Being comfortable in your home away from home sets the tone for any trip. 2traveldads.comWe’ve come to understand not just what sort of hotel room our family needs but also what sort of actions we need to take upon arriving at a hotel, checking in, actually going into our room, and how to set expectations about behavior and activities at a hotel.

Something to remember when we are talking about family travel tips is that every family is so very different. We have two little boys who are pretty predictable. Another family may have 5 kids who all have varying temperaments. The family travel tips that we’re going to share with you and our stories are very specific to what it’s like for us travelling with our specific little boys. If you have other tips or contrasting thoughts about how to handle family travel and hotels, please go ahead and leave those in the comments because other people probably could use your advice too.


Picking Family Travel Accommodations

LittleMan Watching Surfers from Casa Marina Jax Beach 1The first thing to talk about with family travel and hotels or lodges is in how you pick your accommodations. All it took was one instance of us checking into a room that was too small for four people for us to understand how clear we need to be when we’re making a reservation or when we are checking into a hotel. We’ve learned that we need to have a very large room, particularly if we know that we’re going to be spending a lot of time there at the hotel.  Example:  it’s going to be raining for three days straight and we’re in a sparsely fun area.

Tip:  check out our article about choosing a great family travel destination, that way you won’t need to worry about if a hotel is a good hangout.

We also know that it’s not just needing a certain number of beds, but it’s needing a certain amount of space that is clear of furniture or weird objects.  Sometimes we check in and get to our room and say “Why are there two desks?  Do we need an enormous coffee table?”  As we called out in our article about the King and Prince Resort in St Simons Island, Georgia:  

If you’re traveling with kids, it’s okay to rearrange furniture or use space however you see fit when in a hotel.  It’s courteous to move things back to how they should be and tidy up after yourself though.”

Chris Taylor and Dudes Playing in room at Casa Marina Jax Beach 1There is no shame and there is nothing wrong in rearranging some of the furniture in the hotel room. And if you’re going to be in a hotel room for more than a night it’s okay to ask for a chair or something to be removed if you know you’re not going to use it but you need a little more floor space. It might be a bit of an inconvenience for the staff, but that’s why you’re paying for a hotel:   to have your needs accommodated for your family’s comfort and good night’s sleep.

Something else we’ve discovered is that we prefer one brand over others when it comes to booking for family travel. Because of business, we often travel with Marriott hotels and the wide variety that fall within that over-arching brand. When we’re doing vacation or just spending a random night between stops, we’ve learned that the Fairfield segment of Marriott Hotels suits our family’s needs the best. They may not always be the nicest, fanciest, or frilliest of inns to stay at but they are always CLEAN, big enough for us, and they always have certain amenities that our family appreciates. We’ve never been sponsored or hosted by Marriott, but we’d pay to stay in a Fairfield over a similar brand.

Tip:  Marriott Rewards is a great loyalty program that accumulates quickly AND is easily used due to their willingness to welcome rewards members ANYTIME.


Arriving at a Hotel as Family Travelers

LittleMan with Suitcases Trunki Casa Marina 1I will be the first to admit that when I worked in hotels and lodges when I was younger and didn’t have kids, and this sounds bad, but I would roll my eyes when I saw a family walk up to the counter. Well, maybe not roll my eyes visibly, but inside my eyes were rolling. Now that I am that family traveler arriving with two small kids in tow I have to be very thoughtful about the other guests checking in and also how to be as quick as possible with front desk agents who are helping me get situated.

Before we get to the desk though, there’s the issue of parking. Always be sure that you have selected the right type of parking for your family travel situation. Some hotels are self park for free, some are valet only at a cost, and some are self park for a crazy overnight rate. Always ask ahead of time what the options will be and then when you arrive talk with whomever is working the door or at the front desk to make sure you’ve made the best choice for your family.

Tip:   If you arrive at a hotel and there are bellmen or valets be very clear about what luggage they should take with them. If they start to unload your car get involved immediately so that they don’t potentially store something that you will need soon.   Check out our post on the Westin Seattle to hear more about the bell staff taking our luggage and diaper bag away when we had a poopy butt…

TinyMan in Suite with Beach at King and Prince Resort St Simons GA 1When you do make it to the front desk be sure to clarify your room type. If there is not a room ready for you yet, like if you have arrived at the hotel too early, ask if there are any upgrades available. It never hurts to ask. A lot of times, particularly if you are a loyalty member, an upgrade will come naturally, but if not it’s always good to ask.

Another thing to ask when you’re at the front desk is if there is a mini bar in the room. I’m not suggesting this so that you can plan what beverage you’ll get it soon as you get to the room, but so that you can be prepared to prevent little kids from going snack crazy upon seeing candy bars dangled in front of them. Depending on the brand of hotel you might even find that the mini bar is on sensors. What does that mean? It means that if you touch anything in the refrigerator or on the tray the computer system of the hotel knows and the cost of that item will be added to your folio. It’s my least favorite feature of fancy hotels. 

Tip:   If there is a mini bar in the room you can request that it be removed. If there is a minibar with sensors on it, ask that somebody address it as soon as possible and then don’t forget to follow up to make sure that you haven’t incurred any charges.


Finally in the Room

TinyMan on Balcony at King and Prince Resort St Simons GA 2Once you finally gotten to your room you need to do a quick survey to see if there’s anything breakable.

Something we find often are floor lamps that are precariously balanced. That could mean that they loom over and have a low lamp shade, it could be that they are lamps that have bendable arms, it could be just that they are taller and have a higher center of gravity. Lamps are something to watch for.  

Another thing to watch for is decor items that are not meant for kids. For example: when we checked into the Westin Seattle there were iron rope balls that could actually roll on the floor. They were heavy enough to hurt if they rolled over your toe but not so heavy that they couldn’t be picked up.  Bad.

Rob Taylor and TinyMan in suite at King and Prince Resort St Simons GA 1Telephones:  even though kids might have toy telephones most kids today are accustomed to seeing cell phones that don’t have cords. They might even think that the telephone on the desk is actually a play phone. How many times has the front desk gotten an accidental call from us….?

Tip:  Don’t forget about pens and notepads that are in hotel rooms. In a slight moment a little person can grab that pen and start drawing on the wall.

FYI:   it sounds like our kids are unruly, but they’re totally not and are really well behaved. I just know what we’ve learned over the years from so much Family Travel.


Family Travel Sleeping Arrangements

Taylor Kids on Heavenly Bed in Luxury Suite at Westin Seattle 1Even though a lot of hotels will provide a crib if requested sometimes it’s best just to have your own. We always keep a Pack N Play in the back of the minivan for whenever we either don’t like the crib that’s provided at a hotel or if there’s an additional cost to borrow a crib. I’m always surprised that borrowing a crib is something that hotels charge for. We have seen some very nice hotel cribs that are actually beautiful and could pass for one we would have in our home, and we have seen some rickety metal jail-bar-like cribs that actually look and sound like death traps while the baby is in it. That’s why we like to have our own Pack N Play, just in case.

Tip:  if parking is easy at the hotel, just leave the Pack N Play in the car and then grab it once you’ve established the crib situation; that way you’re not bringing luggage to the room that you don’t have to.

LittleMan playing at Marina Fiest CaboAnother thing to think about if you have an older kid is here they will sleep. Our oldest is at the age that he either gets his own bed or he gets the pull-out sofa. There’s an inconsistency between hotels with what is provided in the room for additional bedding. Some hotels will provide sheets and an extra pillow and blanket for whatever pull-out sofa there is, and then some don’t provide anything and you have to ask for it in advance. We’ve stayed in hotels that have the sofa beds already made up or will do it for you before the end of the night. It’s one of the things you have to plan for before it’s bedtime.


And is Family Travel in hotels worth it?

After all of these considerations and tips to think about for  staying in hotels for family travel, you have to say is it actually worth it? Isn’t it easier just to stay in a cheap motel if it’s just for a night as long as it’s clean? Why would I choose to stay in a hotel when I have to think about all of this and then be set up to potentially have a bad stay when I could just go camping with my family and be in control of it 100%? Well, 100% except for the weather… And the raccoons… And the neighbors…   

Yes, staying in a hotel is worth it depending on the rest of your trip. The hotel can be a nice break in the middle of a camping trip so that way you do get the best of both worlds. As we’ve traveled more and more we are becoming a little too accustomed to nicer hotels than the easy, stop without a reservation, clean-enough-that-we-convince-ourselves-it’s-ok-to-stay-for-the-night motel.  

Booking tools for Family Travel

Chris and Rob Taylor in Robes at Hyatt Olive 8 SeattleBooking hotels can be complicated though. There are a lot of different booking sites or even booking directly through a hotel chain. What is the best way to do it? I think that all depends on your budget, your web savvy,  and your expectations for your stay. If you want to leave it all the chance go ahead and use a budget website and get whatever it is that you think it will work out. If you have a bigger budget for your hotel, take the time to consider the amenities and the room types before you book.

Like I said, we have really learned what we need out of the hotel and do indeed take the time to consider all of those factors when we book our own accommodations. Family Travel and hotels is actually pretty nice. It’s nice to have a clean place to stay that also looks after your needs, allows you to get a dirty martini, and it’s nice to have a place where you can take the kids and they can play in the pool.

Our favorite booking sites these days range from Yonderbound to TripAdvisor to Recently I spoke with somebody in hotel management and they had nothing but good things to say about, both from the hotel management side and from the guest service side. In talking with other travel bloggers they also seem to prefer If you have a favorite booking engine and would like to share that knowledge with other people please be sure to leave a comment at the end of the article.


I think it’s clear that Family Travel in hotels can be complex. There’s a lot of things to consider to make sure that your family is comfortable, happy, has everything they nee, and that it falls within your travel budget. Like we said before, we love using Marriott rewards and staying in properties that we have consistent experiences with. Learn from some of our mistakes and listen to some of our tips. If you have tips please go ahead and share them below.

This post contains affiliate links which means that we may earn commission if you listen to our advice.  :)


…and here’s a helpful infographic to remind you of the process for having a great hotel stay!
6 Family Travel Tips to mastering the hotel stay.

Can you spare a share?


  • Ami

    March 23, 2016

    Those are some really handy tips. Especially taking care of the delicate items in the room. I had my daughter drop one of those lamps and well, we of course, paid up for it but learnt our lesson as well.

  • March 24, 2016

    Helpful post for family travelers. Being a shoestring solo traveler, my perspective is quite different. I enjoyed reading this.

  • April 9, 2016

    When I worked in hotels, I don’t think I rolled my eyes at the families as much as at the demanding business travelers. Good tip on asking for a room upgrade if you are checking in early.

  • April 10, 2016

    Our kids LOVE hotels. In fact, anytime we get in the car our kids ask if we are going to a hotel (maybe we travel too much 🙂 ) Luckily for us we haven’t had any bad experiences we and our kids are so used to the experience that it just flows naturally, with the exception of the telephone. D is so obsessed with telephones that if we leave the room phone plugged in, he’s calling the front desk within seconds of getting into any room we book.

  • April 10, 2016

    These are simple things but can make a hell of a difference to your stay, especially if travelling with kids. really a well thought out post with some great pointers.

  • emily bennette

    May 25, 2016

    I like what you said about how you said you should clarify room type and parking before you book. That way, you know how many rooms you will need or if you all will fit in the same room. It seems like it would be a good idea to do a lot of research before you book a room.

  • June 6, 2016

    Sometimes there are large and useless objects in hotels you don’t need. I would suggest looking at room pictures before renting somewhere. This way you know what you are going to get and can ask for it out later.

  • June 8, 2016

    Traveling has always been a hassle for us because we have so many kids. I had no idea that you could actually rearrange the furniture in a hotel because of the fact I thought they would charge me extra for that. Thank you guys for the great article because I think I will be able to do more family vacations because of it!

  • June 15, 2016

    My kids love it when we stay in hotels while we are traveling. Usually, we take them out to the pool and spend the majority of the time there. However, they can be pretty rowdy when we are inside and so we always watch for items that can hurt them or that they would break. If there is a closet, we would probably just store them away and so that is probably where the iron rope balls would go if my hotel ever came with such a thing.

  • July 7, 2016

    I like your tip to look for breakable items, and decor not meant for kids. When we travel with our kids we sometimes don’t keep an eye out for those things and we’ve had several broken lamps on our bill. Kids can get hurt really easily on decor if you aren’t careful!

  • July 20, 2016

    My family loves to travel. Thanks for the advice about choosing a destination that will make you want to be out and about and not in your hotel room. Another thing to consider is making sure that the staff is friendly and will help you with any extra accommodations you might need.

  • August 3, 2016

    I loved your tip to ask if there are any upgrades when you arrive at the hotel. One time I went on a vacation and we stay at a hotel right on the beach, when we arrived our room was not ready so we were automatically upgraded to an oceanview room. They offered to have us wait for our original room, but getting the upgrade was way better.

  • August 4, 2016

    These are some really great tips. I think you covered everything, but am especially glad for your comment about the mini bar. I have never used one before, and never worry about it. However, I have yet to stay in a nice hotel with kids. It pays to be prepared.

  • April Cook

    August 17, 2016

    I really like your tip to hide all the pens that are in the room. We have had problems at home with little kids drawing on the wall, and I would hate for that to happen in the hotel room. It might be smart to travel with a magic eraser just in case. Thanks for all these great tips!

  • September 6, 2016

    Checking for breakable items is smart. That way, you can ensure that your children don’t ruin anything! At least, you can try and prevent it as much as possible. That way, you won’t have to worry quite so much. It wouldn’t be too fun realizing that you owe the hotel more because you broke something of theirs.

  • September 8, 2016

    I liked your post about staying in hotels with kids. I agree that Marriott is a great hotel chain for kids. We particularly like their Residence Inn brand as many of their rooms come with a separate bedroom so we can put the kids down early without disturbing them.

    With regard to sleeping arrangements, we’ve started using a travel cot for our oldest, which has turned out to be great. I’ve even wrote a review of it on our blog. The cot folds up and fits into a suitcase and can easily fit beside a hotel room bed.

  • October 10, 2016

    Traveling with your kids or family is really a wonderful thing. Remember that while bringing kids along with you need be safe in a trip.

  • October 11, 2016

    I love the idea of providing your own crib when staying in a hotel. It can save money if you can provide your own crib rather than having to add one to the hotel bill. It also helps you be able to select any hotel you want since you don’t have to worry about finding one that has a crib included.

  • October 13, 2016

    I really like your tip to have any unnecessary furniture removed. One thing I’ve learned from traveling with my family is that extra space is always a luxury. It’s also worth checking to see what kind of furniture will be in the room beforehand so you know what to expect.

  • January 8, 2017

    The first thing to talk about with family travel and hotels or lodges is in how you pick your accommodations. All it took was one instance of us checking into a room that was too small for four people for us to understand how clear we need to be when we’re making a reservation or when we are checking into a hotel.

  • July 10, 2017

    The tips are so helpful while traveling it is the important thing to take care of the delicate items and I‘ve learnt new things from your blog.

  • October 16, 2017

    I liked that you had mentioned that it can be important to look for a hotel that has the correct amount of bed and other things you might need in the room. My family and I are wanting to take a trip out to Melbourne and we’re trying to figure out how we can still have a good time there. I’ll have to start looking around at hotels and hopefully I’ll be able to find one that will have as many beds as we’ll need.

  • February 7, 2018

    I had never really thought about certain hotel decor items being bad for kids, but it does make sense. After all, as you point out, most young kids are growing up in a world filled with wireless phones and cell phones. As soon as they see that hotel phone with a chord they are going to try and play with it as soon as possible.

  • June 1, 2018

    I wanted to thank you for these tips for staying at a hotel. I hadn’t considered that it could be good to double check your room type when you get to the front desk, and to maybe ask if there are upgrades. This seems useful if you just want to be aware of what your options are at the hotel.

  • Charlie Chandra

    August 11, 2018

    I love this! You guys have had some pretty awesome places – all the pictures are simply beautiful. That has to be one of the most memorable, not many people get to say that they have accomplished that! Great Job!

  • May 14, 2019

    I like how you mentioned that when you get to your hotel room, you need to make sure there is nothing breakable so that there’s nothing that your kids can break. My husband and I have been planning our big family vacation for this year, which includes us staying in a hotel with our 3 kids, but we’ve never all stayed in a hotel room before and I want to make sure I’m prepared. I will definitely keep all fo your great tips and information in mind when trying to handle my kids in our hotel stay.

    • 2td-admin

      May 14, 2019

      All it takes is one nice hotel stay where somebody breaks something and you forever scan your accommodations for potential disasters. 🙂 Have a wonderful trip!

  • jack martin

    July 30, 2019

    Nice! i really appreciate your work and this tips totally useful thanks for sharing.

  • Umesh

    October 21, 2019

    Great article you provided new things thanks for sharing.

  • Jerry Woods

    October 24, 2019

    I liked your tip of clarifying your room type when you get to the front desk of a hotel. My family and I are going on a long vacation soon and I am wondering how I can make it go as smoothly as possible for everyone. I’ll be sure to remember this tip when we arrive at our hotel.

  • November 6, 2019

    I found it interesting when you said that when staying in a hotel room it’s ok to ask for some of the furniture to be removed to have more room. I’m going to be taking a family trip to a resort and we’re planning on staying for 2 weeks. I saw a picture of the room and I think we’ll be a bit crowded with all the suitcases and the furniture. I’m going to call the resort and ask them to remove the chairs and the table so we can be more comfortable.

    • November 6, 2019

      Yes, absolutely do it. I’ve never been declined to have furniture removed. It’s such a help. 🙂

  • Frank Ball

    December 18, 2019

    It’s good to know that you should select the right type of parking for your family travel situation before going to a hotel. My wife and I are wanting to go on vacation with our family and we are worried about parking at the hotel. I’ll be sure to tell her that we should make sure our parking situation is handled before we go on vacation.

  • David Norriss

    December 23, 2019

    I love the idea you gave about staying at a hotel while on a camping trip with your family to get the best of both worlds. I think that would be great because you could enjoy family time while camping and then all relax after a long week of sleeping in tents on a nice mattress. I’ve been looking for vacation ideas for this coming summer so I’ll see what my family thinks of this one.

  • Eli Mcmullen

    January 30, 2020

    It makes sense that you should look around your lodging area to ensure that there aren’t any decorative items that your children can break. My wife and I would like to rent a cabin so that we can enjoy summer with our two sons, but we are worried that they might get excited and accidentally break something when they are playing. We’ll be sure that the cabin we rent is kid-friendly.

  • Robert Pattinson

    January 31, 2020

    I am over whelmed after reading your article as you have truly mastered the art of presenting the inside story of the hotels and its culture. You have mastered the art of staying in a luxurious way during the vacation. This post totally made me feel awesome about the entry with your kid in a hotel. You have taken a good portion of your time to indicate the stay in a hotel from a child’s point of view. Last month my visit to Miami with my family was really memorable. Keep enlightening us with your valid points.

  • Derek Swain

    March 12, 2020

    Thanks for mentioning that you should keep your child away from hotel telephones to ensure that they do not accidentally call the front desk. My wife and I would like to find a hotel suite that will be big enough for our family to celebrate my son’s birthday, but we want to teach our children hotel etiquette since they have never been on vacation. We’ll make sure to be courteous when we arrive at a suite.

  • Joe Hall

    April 1, 2020

    I love that you touched on how each family is different, so you really have to think about how your kids and family will behave. My wife and I want to go on vacation soon so that we can destress for a couple of days at least. I think it would be fun to stay in a hotel for a while, then go into the woods to stay at a cabin.

  • Jesse Ford

    April 29, 2020

    I like how you mentioned that it was apparent how clear you need to be when choosing a hotel to stay in since you had four people to share a room. My wife and I are thinking of looking at hotels to rest our heads in because we’re considering taking our family on vacation somewhere that has a beach. I think it’s a good idea for us to consider reserving lodging that can accommodate me, my wife, and three children adequately.

  • Ron Booker

    May 5, 2020

    My wife and I are planning our next vacation, and we are looking for advice to plan it properly. I had no idea that one of the most important things to consider is the location. I will make sure to follow your advice to choose the right location for our next vacation trip.

  • Maria

    June 7, 2020

    First of all, I’ve learned many tips from this blog. I’m gonna use some of these on my next family trip. Thank you for sharing

  • Steve Jones

    June 29, 2020

    I liked how you mentioned that you can ask for a room to be arranged if you plan on being in a hotel for more than a night. My family is going on a long vacation soon and we were wondering how we can make the hotel stay as comfortable as possible. I’ll be sure to tell them that we can have the room rearranged to fit our needs.

  • Traveler Ideas

    September 10, 2020

    Several years ago after we were several miles away from a hotel we had left in Texas and my 7 year old daughter discovered she could not find her beloved little stuffed sheep dog beanie baby. We called the hotel and they found only what they referred to as “paperwork” in a drawer in our room and offered to mail it to us but did not find her stuffed puppy. The package from the hotel arrived and all of the paperwork turned out to be unneeded travel brochures I had accidentally left in the drawer! She soon found her puppy in a pillowcase. She forgot she had put him in there for safekeeping! She is 22 and has moved to another city, but her puppy, Happy, is still sitting on a shelf in her bedroom in my house


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