Updated March 6, 2020
A couple of years ago, we ventured out on a 2 week road trip with three children through the majority of Southern California to Yosemite to San Francisco and then back down the coast to home – which is San Diego. We stayed in 7-8 hotels (I lost count) and I took notes on things that I thought might help you all with your own travels.
Some of these tips will apply to those who change hotels often and some work with a one hotel vacation. Take a look at what I’m suggesting:
In this article
Use an Over-the-Door Shoe Rack
I found this immensely useful for keeping things organized and off the bathroom counter, which drives me even more insane while staying in close quarters with three children and a husband.
Buy a shoe rack at Target or the like and fill it with all sorts of items. Give each person his or her own pocket to fill and also store larger items like flat irons and bottles of hair spray.
I folded this up with each of our departures, put it in a bag and then pulled it out for the next stop. I won’t travel again without using it.
Number Your Cords
My husband insists that I hold the world record for losing I-whatever chargers in hotel rooms. He might be right. They’re small and they blend in with the walls. I’m actually quite impressed now when I DO remember them.
Cords are spread throughout the room or suite. It’s easy to forget to check one or two outlets to make sure they’re all accounted for.
Because of this, I started a numbering system. We have lots of I-pads and phones and laptops and such, so I started using tape to number each cord to keep track of it to ensure we leave with 1-7 before departing from the room. Use electrical tape, washi tape, masking tape – doesn’t matter. Just label each cord with a number to ensure you leave with all of what you brought in.
This helped us know that we had every cord, rather than hoping we did. It worked very well for us.
Pack or Unpack – Don’t Go Half Way
I have a three day rule. If I’m staying three days or more, I unpack. It helps me feel at home and it creates less chaos by not having to dig through bags. Having clothes in drawers – separated by kid – eases my routine and I feel less stressed.
Here’s the rule, though: Don’t unpack unless you unpack everyone’s items. Before leaving a hotel room, you should know whether or not to make a thorough inspection of drawers. If you unpack one person, but not the other, you might forget some items completely. (My sister did this. Caroline!!!!!!!!)
During our 14 day trip, I never unpacked because we were never in a room for longer than 2 days. For this reason, we had a quicker exit routine. However, when I had younger children, I still went through every drawer and cabinet because little ones tend to hide things for fun. So, I encourage you to check out everything if you have toddlers or preschoolers.
Give Everyone a Job – Regardless of Age
This works for us for many reasons. It instills some responsibility during a time of fun and it keeps kids accountable. Assign each child (and adult) something to be in charge of that will help your hotel room stay run smoothly.
*Gather towels before departing the room each day and put them in one place.
*Tidy the food area so housekeeping knows what to throw away and what to keep.
*Fill water bottles so they’re chilled upon your return to the room.
*Check under beds or under bedding at the edge of beds for plush animals or small toys that could get left behind.
*Gather electronics and/or meds to store in the safe.
Cover the Small Things
*Decide who will get to push the elevator button. One kid gets to do it the whole day? Or we trade off with one kid pushing it to go up and the other does it going down? My little ones are 7 and 9 and blood is still shed over this each time we go on a trip. Blood shed, friends.
*Decide who will push the luggage cart and if kids are allowed to help.
*Think of anything else – small or big – that can be decided ahead of time.
Be Flexible and Don’t Insist Everyone do Everything
This one is the most difficult for me. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that not EVERYONE wants to do everything as a family. A teenager comes in handy here. During our long-distance trip, our oldest watched his brother when they both wanted to skip one of our excursions.
Be flexible here if you have the means (a teenager, a babysitting service, a family member, etc) and split up if it makes everyone happy. And, if you have Disneyland haters, take a look at this post for some options nearby.
*Visit my dollar store post for other items that will help your hotel stay including clothes pins to hang up wet swim suits and to close hotel curtains for maximum black-out. I also mention buying a pop up hamper to store laundry during your stay. Keeps it all in one place rather than all over the floor.
*Know what is around the Disneyland area should you forget an item or two for your trip.
*Consider offering a special reward for kids helping and doing their ‘jobs’ in a timely manner and without being asked to multiple times. You know what works for your kids. Entice them to help you make their visit go smoother. (And, yours.)
*Count your bags before you enter the hotel and upon leaving. We’ve left a bag at a hotel due to not paying attention. It was a child’s backpack full of Tsum Tsums! After many, many phone calls, we finally had the hotel search and search the storage room until they found it. We had stored our items on a luggage cart while enjoying our last day at the pool before leaving and the backpack failed to make it out of the storage room on the cart when we departed. Things were so hectic with kids loading in the car and us trying to fit bags, etc, that we didn’t know we were missing one. If we had just had a bag count, we would have known one was missing.
And, please feel free to leave me a comment with more suggestions! I love your ideas.