The Ultimate Checklist for Keeping Your Kids Happy in a Hotel

free printable checklist of 7 must-have items for a hotel stay with kids - family travel

“I’m boooooored,” she whines, while suffering through a few minutes of downtime on a vacation your wallet will be recovering from for months. Sound at all familiar? Not to be a terrible human, but I really hope so.

I’m convinced my kids would find a way to be bored at Disney World. A few minutes of rest and relaxation—which, lets be honest, parents really need while vacationing with kids—and they seem to develop amnesia. They no longer remember all of the fun that has been packed into the day.

After a mini vacations with our girls, I’ve perfected a small list of absolutely must-have items that we couldn’t survive a hotel stay without. Sometimes we don’t need every last item, but the fact that they’re there is like a parental security blanket. I know I can pull them out if I need them and I’m a much less crazy-eyed mom because of it.

free printable checklist of 7 must-have items for a hotel stay with kids - family travel

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Like a Mother | Road Trips with Kids

road trip with kids

road trips with kids

For as long as I can remember, I have loved a good road trip. From driving a couple of hours to the Jersey shore with my grandparents every summer to driving to Florida on spring break while in college, I have always found road trips incredibly exciting. Killer playlists, hilarious conversations, and a whole lot of open road is my kind of adventure.

And then I had kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still the first to jump at the idea of adventuring to a new place by car, it just takes way more preparation now. Like, way more. And along the way, I’ve become pretty good at keeping my kids entertained on road trips. In fact, I have a list of five tips that I consider essential when road tripping with kids.

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My Week Through Instagram

I feel like a couple of weeks have been packed into this last one. We did so much! Let’s start with a typical morning…

Samantha generally gets up with the sun. She just can’t fathom opening her eyes, seeing that the sun is out and going back to sleep. For her that’s just ridiculous. Luckily, she’s finally at an age where she doesn’t (always) wake me up the second she gets up. Instead, she’s been making incredibly detailed drawings. One of my favorites is this mermaid she made this week (she’s still in sea creature mode from our trip to the aquarium). It’s currently framed and sitting on top of our bookshelf.

Then there’s Ellie. I like it when she finds herself in places like this. At least she’s contained…

When she’s not contained, she’s in places like this. We can no longer keep chairs around any of our tables when she’s loose. If you turn your back for a second, she pulls out a chair and stands on the table with a devilish grin.

On Friday, we went to Jumpin’ Jeepers (which is more or less a big indoor playground) with our friends. The kids had a blast. This is Ellie with her buddy Caroline.

And here she is going for a ride with her future boyfriend, Benny. The big girls were too busy running around like maniacs to get a picture.

Later that night we went to our friends’ house for a game night to celebrate Chris’ birthday. How awesome is this cake Janine’s coworker made for Chris?!

On Saturday the girls and I went to lunch with my mom. Since I usually show pictures of the mess Miss Elyssa makes of herself, I thought I’d show a shot of the mess she makes of me. This is her tomato sauce hand print on my jeans.

On Sunday, the girls and I headed out to Long Island for the first stop on our mini-getaway: my in-law’s house. This is Samantha getting serious with her bubble wand while ready for spying action with a new pair of old binoculars from her Papa.

She also got to play cards and get some cuddle time with her Uncle Colin (though their last game of Old Maid was highly contested).

The next morning we headed out to East Hampton, where my husband’s aunts have an amazing house. I have way too few pictures of the fun we had there, but that’s mostly because I spent a lot of  my time making sure my little animal was safe. Samantha did a lot of swimming (and blowing water out of pool noodles) while Ellie enjoyed throwing things into the pool for her sister to fetch.

We also wandered around town and through Sag Harbor. Samantha’s absolute favorite stop (aside from the ice cream place in East Hampton) was a sea shell store in Sag Harbor. She could have spent all day in there.

We also fell in love with this wall of vintage handkerchiefs in the house’s master bedroom. This shot does it absolutely no justice. The entire wall is filled with framed handkerchiefs that Eileen picked out. It is seriously amazing and has me and Samantha thinking of similar things we can do in our own house.

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And We’re Off!


I didn’t think we’d be able to do it this summer, but the girls and I are headed out on another little getaway! This time the hubs is staying home (he has to work, boooo) and we’re going out to East Hampton to hang with his mom and aunts for a couple of days.

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My Week Through Instagram: Getaway Edition

So we finally took that little getaway I’ve been hoping for! It was just a short 3-hour car ride and a one-night stay in Mystic, Connecticut, but it was just what the doctor ordered. We had a blast.

We loaded everything into the car–including tons of activities for the perenially bored Samantha (who is recently obsessed with the Frankly, Frannie book series)–and were on the road by 7:30 on Tuesday morning. While we finished packing up Sam ran around the house singing “Vacation’s all I ever wanted, vacation time to get away” all morning (thank you, Chipwrecked).

There was no sleeping during the car ride but the ladies were all smiles (score!).

After Sam told us a bunch of facts about dolphins from a new book she got, Ellie decided to check things out for herself. Apparently she’s reeeeeally talented at reading upside down.

Our first stop was Mystic Aquarium, where Samantha’s excitement was contagious. This is her touching the glass as a beluga whale swims by. She thought it was pretty much the coolest thing ever.

We also saw everything from penguins (which she’s checking out here) and jelly fish to sharks and a sea lion show. The sea lions “competed” against each other, doing tricks like seeing who could bark the loudest and who could retrieve items from the pool the fastest. Samantha loved every second of it. Ellie was pretty amazed too.

After we saw everything at the aquarium, we headed to lunch at Friendly’s (Sam swears they make the best grilled cheese in the world) and then to our hotel. We hung out there for awhile, exploring, and swimming in the pool. Ellie even took a little nap (those are her toes!) before we headed out to dinner.

We decided on a place in town called Voodoo Grill. It was soooo good. We got alligator bites as an appetizer and somehow got our pickiest eater (that would be Sam) to try them. OK, so we bribed her with $4, but still. She tried them and she liked them!Elyssa loved them too–shocker, right?

I got their chicken wrap and Tim got the gumbo. It was all so delicious! Afterwards, we took a walk through town where we window shopped, listened to a band play on the water, and got some ice cream. It was an absolutely perfect day.

On Wednesday we woke up, had breakfast at the hotel and did a little swimming before heading over to Mystic Seaport. It was brutally hot out (even at 10am), but we still checked out the Children’s Museum (that’s Samantha doing laundry there), saw a show at the (airconditioned!) planetarium, and checked out a ship from the 1800s. Sam also printed a book cover at their little Art Spot and dipped candles.

When we were hot, tired, and had exhausted most of our options, we headed towards town to find some lunch. After making a couple of stops and not finding any food on the menu that Samantha would eat, we decided on Bravo, Bravo. The food was great and Ellie did a little happy dance with every bite of Sam’s pizza she ate.

We had a great time and I’m already itching to plan our next getaway. Any suggestions?


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