12 Things Every Hotel Needs to Provide for Traveling Families

Recently my husband and I embarked on our first “vacation” with our toddler son. The long weekend away triggered mainly by the wedding of two friends was also our test to see whether or not our son was road-trip ready. Overall he was amazing. We did, however, come to see everything, including hotel spaces, in a whole new light.

Firstly, for anyone even remotely connected to the hospitality industry, please note that the person checking in with a crawling child will find out precisely how clean your facility is in less than 10 seconds. That is how long it takes their squirmy little munchkin to wriggle out of their arms and begin exploring the carpet and/or tiled floors you think look sparkling on a daily basis. Hint: They’re not. My son’s legs haven’t been so consistently blackened with dirt in his entire life. And he plays outside quite frequently.

Secondly, we were amazed at how many little things could’ve made our hotel stays just a little easier. Here’s what we found missing on our adventure and we welcome you to add to the list with your own suggestions in the comments section below.

1. Tamper-Proof Outlets

This seems like an odd request to anyone whose life isn’t spent crawling all over the floor, I know. But, please, for the love of your youngest guests, make sure they can’t stick anything into the outlets in the five seconds their parents aren’t looking.

2. Plastic Cups

Glasses are lovely. And breakable. And, for the love of God, quit displaying them on low shelves!

3. Dish Soap

Especially in rooms with sinks and countertops, the inclusion of a complimentary bottle of dish soap would be a blessing to the haggard mother facing a pile of dirty sippy cups and bottles at 10 o’clock at night on her vacation.

4. Paper towels

Because we don’t want to call the front desk at midnight for yet another bath towel or washcloth.

5. Brakes on Luggage Trolleys

Every child wants to use the trolley as his personal skateboard. Please, help a parent out in those ten seconds her arms are loaded with bags.

6. Free Kids’ Movies

It’s lovely to offer pay-per-view movies to guests. That offer becomes a rotten tease when your kid sees Curious George on the screen for one quick second before mom realizes she’d have to pay another ten bucks to keep her kid happy for the 15 minutes she needs two free hands. Charge the adults, but have mercy on the kids.

7. Nightlights

Because even if toddlers can sleep in the pitch black, the parents rolling over to check on them still need to see how well they’re sleeping in a strange, new place.

8. Cribs, as Opposed to Pack & Plays

Because there are some kids who don’t sleep in anything but a crib. And if they’re anything like my son, they don’t even like being put in a Pack and Play to play. Besides, most parents have one of their own that we can easily tote along.


9. Bathtubs, as Opposed to Shower Stalls

Yes, you do want to bathe your baby on the road, especially if he’s just had his first swim in the hotel pool. And no, opting to hold him up in a shower stall is not the easier solution.

10. Thermostats That Aren’t Easily Accessible to Little Hands

 It took my son about thirty seconds to crawl over to the floor unit in our room, flip on the heater and turn up the temperature to 75 degrees. Buttons are fun! Wall thermostats, please.

11. High Chairs With Trays

Because the goal is to contain the mess, not spread it out across the table.

12. Breakfast Basics

Most hotels offer a continental breakfast that is included in your stay. Neither of the two hotels we stayed at had Cheerios or whole milk on the menu. Two basic items that satisfy the needs of growing children were missing from family-friendly establishments. And given that the buffet also included doughnuts, Froot Loops, and biscuits with sausage gravy, I’m guessing they weren’t missing for any health-related reason. No one loves Raisin Bran. Everyone loves Cheerios. Get with the program.