When we did our overnight in Austin last month, I was blown away at how many replies I got requesting tips for travel with babies and expressing a thankful hope that traveling with little ones is possible. So I’ve been working on two posts to share everything I’ve learned about traveling with babies…
This first post is about helpful information and tips for staying in hotels and AirBnBs with babies. The second post will be about plane and car travel with little ones.
Is Traveling with Babies Possible?
The answer is obviously yes. Something that I will reiterate time and again, however, is that traveling with babies will be different from your previous travel experience and you need to prepare and account for that.
This sounds so obvious, but remembering that babies don’t hit vacation mode is important! Their frequent needs don’t care about flight times, traffic, waiting in line, or what’s easy. Food, sleep, and play time have to happen when they have to happen!
Besides being as prepared as possible, the best advice I offer is to be flexible and travel with people who can be flexible ALWAYS!
Is a Hotel or an AirBnB better for traveling with babies?
You know. I can’t pick this one for you. While the comfort and space of an AirBnB is a huge plus, I think there are also some major perks to staying in a hotel – they tend to have amenities that are helpful. I think both are great; you should just be mindful of what you’ll need in each.
The one thing to note here is that you want to pick a location you can easily get to from wherever you’ll be spending most of your time. Since travel slows down with a kiddo, traveling short distances is nice.
We also try to spend some time at the hotel/house/apt every afternoon. After being on the go, usually in strollers and in new places, there’s something really rather necessary about some play time or nap time in the quiet of “home.” Usually C played on the bed with his toys and got his wiggles out. Having a central location was super helpful for this resetting time!
Hotels & Babies
Do Hotels Have Cribs?
We’ve done shorter trips with our little guy and for the most part have stayed in hotels. While most hotels don’t have comfy couches and lots of space, they do have a number of helpful amenities.
First, every hotel we’ve stayed at has had a crib available. I’ve had two pack-n-plays and three small cribs on wheel (with locks). My only complaint about each these styles is how far down the mattress is from the top (for safety, I know!). It’s been tricky at times to lay C down without waking him up.
A nanny we hired at one place (more below) requested an extra mattress at the hotel which raised it up higher! I have since tried that again, however, and they said there weren’t any extras.
Cribs are not an additional charge. Just request a crib when making the reservation to make sure it’s available for you. They come with a fitted sheet, so you’ll need to bring whatever else you would use.
Alternatively, you can get a travel crib!
What else Do hotels offer for babies?
This is the part that varies between hotels. Every hotel we’ve stayed in has had a refrigerator, which if you’re using formula or storing breastmilk, is essential. I’ve often rearranged the shelves to fit my needs. And depending on how long we’re staying, I’ve made individual bottles for the day or I’ve taken my formula mixing pitcher (the one we use at home).
We also travel with this cooler travel pack (also available from Target). It’s great from travel on planes and cars as well as taking food with you wherever your day may take you. You don’t have to worry about finding or making it whenever hunger strikes!
For the ice pack in the cooler… most hotel refrigerators have a “freezer,” but isn’t really a freezer. I place the ice pack in the ice bucket, fill the bucket with ice, and then place the whole thing in the refrigerator overnight. It isn’t as good as a traditional freezer, but it works pretty well!
Making Formula in Hotel Rooms
If you’re making formula, then this can be a concern. Depending on how you make formula (with filtered water or boiled water), you can easily figure out an option.
We boil water before making formula most of the time (probably a practice we will soon stop). Most of the time, I’ve used the coffee pod machine to heat the water (the water doesn’t go through an area that’s previously had coffee). At the Hyatt Regency in Austin, however, they provided me with an electric water kettle. I DIED! It was great.
And at that same hotel…they brought a diaper pail with the crib. Talk about a home away from home! This hasn’t been the norm, however!
Doing Laundry at Hotels
Also surprising to me was how many hotels have laundry premises on site. Some require quarters, others are free. Just ask when making the reservation or when you show up if you’ll need to do laundry. Make sure to bring your own laundry detergent. You can put some in some leakproof containers like these to avoid wasted space and weight.
AirBnb and Babies
With all that said about hotels, you can probably imagine the perks and pitfalls of traveling with babies and staying in an AirBnb. Many cities have many options, however, so that’s not to say there aren’t properties available with everything you need – but you need to search correctly!
Do AirBnbs Have Cribs?
If you need a crib, you can select crib as a required amenity in the advanced search options! Many places will offer it, just make sure to search. You can certainly ask hosts specifics about what they have.
What else Do AirBnBs offer for babies?
AirBnbs are better for traveling with babies in two ways – the space and the kitchen/laundry facilities.
The big perk of AirBnBs, in my opinion, is the space. Having couches on which to relax, floor space to play, etc. can be so, so important with kids! If you’re renting a room in a house, you should ask if there’s a common area where your family can stretch and play a bit!
Homes and rooms for rent usually offer a full refrigerator with a freezer. There’s usually a sink to do dishes, a stove or kettle to boil water, and you can search only for properties with laundry facilities.
Remember when you’re searching for the perfect place to remember location compared to what you’ll be doing!
Finding Childcare during Travel
So this was a novel idea that my mom introduced to me. Apparently when we traveled internationally (when I was a baby), hotels offered a nanny service or had services they’d recommend. Then they had someone to watch me while they had business meetings!
When we were at the conference in Dallas, that’s exactly what we did. The hotel had a few agencies on file that they recommended. I looked up reviews for each and picked one. Because it was done through an agency, the cost per hour was a bit higher, but there was also a better guarantee of who the person was coming to watch. There were background checks, official screenings, CPR training, and a slew of things that make you feel better about hiring a nanny.
There are also sites like care.com and urbansitter.com (use code WELCOME for $25 off) to find babysitters for one time only!