Tips to Survive Sleeping in a Standard Hotel Room with a Family of Four

For the most part, we consider hotel rooms to be a place to sleep after a long day of exploring but we have stayed at some amazing properties that were destinations in themselves. If it makes sense, we will invest in a suite or a vacation rental that includes a kitchen. When we went to Disney World for a week with five other family members, it made sense to invest in a suite with a kitchen. We cooked meals, prepared lunches to bring in to the theme parks and enjoyed the extra space. We also saved money because we were able to rent one property rather than three to suit the needs of the three families.

Sometimes, I just can’t justify the cost of anything more than a standard hotel room. This summer we are planning a trip traversing the state of Florida. At one point during the trip, we will be stopping for the night after driving about 9 hours. We will probably arrive late and it is just a stopping point before we continue on. I found a brand new, 2-3 star hotel off of the Interstate for $60. We will arrive late, get a good night’s sleep and the next morning we will eat a continental breakfast and then continue on the road. This is an example of when we would save the money and stay in an inexpensive room.

I am defining a standard hotel room as a room with two beds and a bathroom. There will probably be television and internet access but there are likely no additional amenities in the room. No kitchen. No room with a door to close when it is time for the kids to go to sleep and the adults aren’t ready.

We are a family of four, which right away makes it easy to choose a standard hotel room when we are traveling but I have a boy and a girl. I know that sometime in the next few years they will not want to share a room with each other (or their parents) and we will be ready to upgrade but until then, this is how we survive a stay in a standard hotel room.

We throw the bedtime schedule out the window. I should probably preface this with the fact that we aren’t really a scheduled family. We didn’t institute a consistent schedule until our kids entered school and were forced in to a schedule. Once summertime hits, the schedule disappears. It is what works for our family. When we travel, we don’t worry about a strict bedtime. If the kids are still awake at 9pm, I don’t panic. I know that after a long day of adventures, they will fall asleep quickly the next night.

Invest in a book light. My husband and I can read in bed at night while the kids are trying to fall asleep. We use book lights so that we can read without really disturbing the kids.

Watch television at a low volume. Depending on what we can find on the television, we will turn it on at a low volume and bore the kids to sleep. It is amazing how quickly my kids fall asleep while watching the late night news or a sports game.

Book a room with a sleeper sofa or book a roll-away bed. Hotels like Comfort Inn usually offer an room option with a sleeper sofa. It typically only costs a few dollars more than a standard room. The sofa comes with all the bedding you need and is a perfect way to separate my children so they aren’t fighting, crossing the line, or doing any of the numerous things they do to annoy each other. Another option is to book a roll-away bed but be sure to book it ahead of time.

Divide and Conquer. I will lay down with my daughter and my husband will lay down with my son until they fall asleep. Then we move them to the sleeper sofa or bed that they will sleep in.

Book a room with a balcony. We have spent many an evening chatting on the balcony while our kids fall asleep in the hotel room.

How do you make your stay in a standard hotel room more comfortable?


  1. 1

    We have difficulty making do with a standard hotel room because my daughters (15 and 8) refuse to sleep together. Or I should say that my teenager refuses to sleep with her younger sister – not that I can really blame her because Emma is a restless, all over the bed kind of sleeper who kicks. The only way that we can stay in a standard room is with a pull-out sofa or a rollaway cot. Otherwise one of them would be sleeping in the bathtub! 🙂 For part of our summer vacation this year we will be staying in one room with a rollaway – I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  2. 2

    We’ve done the standard room thing also (but with four kids) and it is always tricky, but doable. These are great tips for making it work. We have spent many evenings sitting in the hall waiting for kids to fall asleep, and even some times in the bathroom.:)

  3. 3

    Incredibly timely post as we just became a family of 4. My oldest just switched to the “big boy” bed so my new challenge will be to get him to sleep in a hotel room, get the baby down in the crib and then find my sanity to get myself to sleep 🙂 I love the balcony idea. Like Jessica, I’ve camped out in the bathroom one too many times. A little fresh air sure would be nice.

  4. 4

    Where there’s a will, there’s a way when you are on a tight budget. All good tips. We ARE a structured family, but when you are all in one room you have to be flexible about bedtime or everyone will be unhappy. Wear them out during the day and they’ll fall asleep soon enough. When my second child was an infant, one parent would take our older child on a “date” while the baby fell asleep in the room. Once he was asleep, we could turn on lamps and TV again and my older child was readier for bed.

  5. 5

    Great tips and ideas! We are a family of four too with a boy and a girl. I am grateful that they are still willing to sleep next to each other. We’ve done the low volume TV but threats have worked too =) The book light is a great idea and I am adding that to my things-to-buy list.

  6. 6

    great ideas!

  7. 7

    We’re the odd ones here. We’re a family of 5- so the standard hotel room doesn’t always work for us though sometimes we can’t find anything else so it has to work.

    We’ve learned to travel with an air mattress. Ick…I know- but even with a roll away, we still need additional beds. My kids are teens so my boys won’t sleep together. If we all travel together we have to have other options. I’ve found that most hotels don’t mind but there are a few that are real sticklers (fire codes and all).

    It helps us to try to make advance reservations for larger rooms. It’s not fun to travel into the wee hours of the night (we often do) only to search and not find a room large enough to accomodate our family.

  8. 8

    Our problem is 2 girls, 5 and 8, and a 1 year old that won’t go to sleep unless it’s perfectly quiet.
    Even with a balcony, that’s good for me and the Mom, but not the two girls. What can I do for them?? Even watching tv on the computer, they will make noise and wake the baby or keep him awake. I need an idea to separate the room from the infant, like a folding screen or something for the light and his being able to see. Help anyone? We’re supposed to go away this week and I don’t know what to do !!!