Sunday, September 2, 2012

Hotel for Tots

In the course of our travels, we've learned a lot about how to keep babies and toddlers safe and happy in a hotel.

Mitigating Disaster

Unplug the phone from the wall. It is a fascinating toy with voices at the press of a button. "Hello? How are you, Dada?" We have cell phones. And if I need to call guest services, I just replug and dial.

Glass glasses are replaced daily by Housekeeping and should go up and away. At one point, I thought they made great bathtime rinse cups. Then my two year old smashed her hand into one and shattered it. Bring bandages. And just use a sippy cup for rinsing.

Diapers. Dealing with diapers in a hotel can be tricky. Hotels don't have diaper pails. I've yet to find the perfect solution for stinky diapers. There's the individual bag method (I can still smell it). There's the "see if the housekeeping cart is parked down the hall" approach. You could bring an odor proof wetbag (made for cloth diapers) or some kind of sealable box. If you figure out a great method, I'd love to hear it. On cruises, most lines will actually provide a pail. I like cruises.

Most hotels offer roll away beds and cribs. Our kiddos share the bed. Bring a waterproof crib sheet to throw underneath them. In a dozen or more hotel trips with babies, we've soiled one set of hotel sheets. Not bad, says I.

Stationery items like pens, notepads, hotel booklets, and the Gideon good book are best kept in a hidden place, too. It is fun to draw on walls and shred paper when you are two.

Sweetie was approximately 20 months when she was tall enough to reach the big red button on the elevator panel at a Holiday Inn in Amarillo. The emergency responder dispatcher was very friendly.

Windows are awesome to stand in. Make sure that they don't open and that your child's life insurance policy is up to date. Our suite at the Hotel Marlowe in Boston had a gorgeous window that you could stand in that overlooked a busy street by the Charles river and a big golden telescope that you could knock over right in the window. I aged on that trip. Our room at the Parc 55 Wyndham in San Francisco had a little air vent you could open (pictured under the pig). We nearly lost all four Little Einsteins from our room on the 18th floor.

All the Comforts of Home

When you get to the room, lay out all of the toys and snap a quick photo. When you're packing later, you'll appreciate the visual as you go looking under the bed and dresser for that seventh stacking cup. In two and a half years, we've lost only two pacifiers and one wooden peg. Always check for toys who have gone off on little adventures of their own, too. I couldn't find Elly and Pocoyo all morning one day...they were people watching in this window at the Holiday Inn.

You never know what extra little amenities a hotel may be able to provide. A nice young man at the front desk of a Holiday Inn in the Boston area unlocked the fridge in the breakfast area every time I wanted a carton of milk for bedtime. At the Omni in Philadelphia, we were given two little backpacks with magnifying glasses, hackey sack balls, and coloring books. At Orlando's Marriott World Center, we were offered use of a stroller during our stay from their cache of abandoned strollers. The ladies in the gift shop at San Francisco's Holiday Inn Golden Gateway offered Sweetie two Dum-Dums every time we came in. And at the Parc 55 Wyndham in San Francisco, we got four stuffed barnyard animals from the front desk. And band-aids.

Snacks and drinks are challenging when you travel. It's easy to find yourself dehydrated. Most hotel rooms have fridges or can provide one at no extra charge. We like to make a drugstore trip to stock up on drinks, diapers, and snack foods once we get in. (Thanks a million to Sarah for bringing us juice, water, and goldfish!) Bonus: shopping bags make great dirty clothes sacks.

One item I am hardly ever traveling without is a small bottle (10oz or less) of dish soap in a ziploc bag. I wash sippy cups, pacifiers, toys, and occasionally even clothes in the bathroom sink.

The world is not baby-proofed. And though I keep offering my Sweetie out as a test subject to people beginning their baby-proofing process, it will still be my job to keep her and her brother happy and safe when we are out in the world. I can assure you - it's a full-time job.

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