Top Tips to Help You Stick to a Hotel Bedtime Routine with Kids

How to Succeed in the Hotel Bedtime Routine

As every blogger, magazine and the good sensed traveller will tell you, always book accommodations with separate rooms! Keep the vacation routine as much the same as home routine and all will be well with the kids Hotel Bedtime Routine.

If this were true, it wouldn’t be much of a vacation and I wouldn’t have the money to fund many of them in the first place. Separate rooms are expensive. Going to bed at 7 pm is problematic at best, impractical at worst. Day-trippers have left town and the streets are starting to empty. Street lights are on and the sun is going down. 7 pm is a great time to walk around a new city and just take it in, not putting the family to bed.

What to do

When I reserve through I filter for any apartments at first. I want to see what kind of price tag I have to look forward to. Thus far, I have succeeded 3 times out of the 100 or so trips we have been on in the last 2 years. Once I was able to get a 1 bedroom with doors between the TV room and the sleeping area, so we moved the cot and extra bed into our room and we had a little quiet time after lights out, but that was once. Every other time, it was MUCH less expensive to just suck it up and cram us all into a single room and hope for the best. Booking early helps but the more rooms, the more money, 10 months ahead of time won’t change that fact.

Single room hotel


In case you aren’t aware, my kids have been going to bed at 7 pm since they were 2 months old. I demanded this schedule from them and I worked hard at it. They may wake at 7 am but that just means I won’t be fighting them for 12 years to get out of bed and ready for school. Having a 7 pm bedtime works WONDERS when we are at home; hubby and I get quiet time, I look like parenting-royalty on the playground, it’s all good. Vacations, however, can be a little challenging.

5/6 pm rolls around and I can see they are starting to get tired. Usually, this is worst on the first day of vacation when they haven’t truly accepted their fates; this week’s schedules is wonky, adapt! We eat late, explore a little more and are finally in our rooms around 8/9 pm. Clean up, unpack the stroller, decompress and get ready for bed, we are looking at 9/10 at the earliest. Rushing will only make things worse, so don’t even bother. It’s the same routine, just later.

Check out my video here on ways burn baby energy in the hotel room.

Nap time

Due to later bedtimes and denial in the morning, both kids need to make up that lost sleep somehow. Usually around day 3 is when they have figured it out, until then; oh boy! Day 3 rolls around and the munchkin finally declares “mummy, I’m tired, I need a nap!” Well, this is why we have the carrier. I wear the baby and he takes a one hour nap in the stroller around noon. Once he is awake, baby girl is now ready for her second nap. She has been having strictly morning naps until now and she is HORRIBLE late afternoon due to being overtired. If only she were old enough to realize there was a simple solution to this problem; two naps, or nap later. Since she clearly can’t help herself but nap at 10am, thus waking 1.5 hours later, she starts to take another, shorter nap, around 3 to make up the difference. This nap and munchkins little one hour help keep them energized enough to make it through the evening with little arguments, and into bed for 9/10 pm.

Day 3 nap time

On those odd vacation nights where you are legitimately finished early in the day, do not try to send them to bed at their regular times. They have bent to your will, now is not the time to screw things up; they will resist and this time, they will win. Trust me. I’ve tried. Find something to do that at least burns that extra energy and make it as close to their new temporary bedtime as possible.  While not everyone agrees with bringing technology on vacation, we try to use it sparingly. This would be the time to use it. A movie, Levar Burton Kids, Youtube, anything to help keep them awake and behaved until they are ready for bed. We don’t bring too many toys with us either but do buy a few souvenirs while away so we try to play with those in the room as much as possible, since toys are not permitted to leave the hotel room while on vacation (the cries of losing it are much worse than the cries of leaving it behind).

Hotel Bedtime Routine

Returning to normal

By keeping the last day fairly low key, you should be able to minimize their need for the extra nap before getting back home. Book flights for a morning departure, thereby lowering the risk of delays and people traffic within the airport. Driving home should only start an hour or more after wake up time, giving them the time needed to stretch their legs and burn a little energy. I try not to count eating as part of this hour since they aren’t doing a thing. Side note, bring extra food for second breakfast; they may not be hungry now but wait until the engine starts, they will be starving.

Depending on the length of the journey home, bedtime can go back to normal right away. They are back to their normal surroundings and normal expectations apply once again. If they are particularly not interested, at least they have their own rooms so it won’t be both awake and refusing bed. This time, however, resistance is futile and they will go to bed on time. They just don’t know it yet.

What is your hotel bedtime routine? Help us, help our kids, have a better nights sleep.

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Questions or Comments? Join the conversation below.

Shann Eva - September 12, 2016

Great tips! It is so hard going on vacation with kids. Definitely not relaxing for mom and dad! At home, our kids have a pretty early bedtime too. My twins go to sleep by 7 pm at the latest, and my oldest around 8:30. On vacation, we let them stay up later, and also try to squeeze in a nap or two. Last time we got lucky with a separate bedroom, but that usually doesn’t happen for us either.

Stefani @ Crafty Christian - September 12, 2016

I hate sleeping in hotel rooms with the kids, they get way too excited and don’t sleep until way too late. And my husband and I end up hiding out in the bathroom to keep the room dark for them. We don’t travel much if we don’t have to.

    Christine Leger - September 13, 2016

    We’ve been at it for 2 years now since our time here is limited, so we have encountered these issues several times. My luck, we have mastered by the time we go back to Canada

Georgiana - September 12, 2016

Yes, great tips! I have a terrible time getting the kids to bed when we’re on the road. Once, they were pretending to sleep, and I’d sneak into the bathroom to make phone calls. Soon I discovered they were up and dancing to the music that was playing loudly at the pool every time I left the room!

    Christine Leger - September 13, 2016

    That would be hilarious if it weren’t so horrible. We haven’t resorted to hidding in the bathroom yet, maybe when they are older

Jen G - September 13, 2016

Staying in hotel rooms with the kids can be tough. Great tips!

candy mercado - September 13, 2016

This is a good post. We haven’t traveled very much and the few times we did, it was a little tricky with the kids. I will save these tips for our next vacation.

    Christine Leger - November 14, 2016

    Traveling with kids isn’t for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. I can feel mini-anxiety attacks at least once per day lol just the nature of the beast. Traveling is stressful, kids are stressful, put them together and I regularly ask myself “what was I thinking” lol

Christine - The Choosy Mommy - September 13, 2016

I feel like my kids are always so worn out when we travel that I don’t even have to beg them to lay down. Either they are already asleep by the time we get back to the hotel, or we get their bath and they can hardly make it to the bed to fall asleep.

    Christine Leger - November 14, 2016

    It depends on the day. Once, they fell asleep in the stroller after dinner and didn’t even wake when we changed their clothes, and other times, the late afternoon nap ruins their schedule and we have to fight with them at 10 pm. I hate afternoon naps

Lacey - September 14, 2016

This is such a great post. Bedtime and naptime was not something I thought about when we took our first vacation and we were so not prepared for how much it would throw our little one off.

Tiffany @ shortsweetmom - September 14, 2016

These are great tips. I am glad I read this today as we are going on a trip this week. I am sure this advice will prove useful.

Gabi - September 16, 2016

So many interesting tips, trying to keep travel as normal as possible is the way to go when traveling with kids, it works for us!

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