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Jetlag & Mayhem's Guide To One Night Stops On Your Roadtrip

Prospective family roadtrippers are often put off by the thought of staying only one night in any one location. We all know what it’s like, traveling with young kids in tow, getting them settled, moving in and out of the car etc.

However, if you want to cover a lot of ground, there are times when these stays are unavoidable.  On each of our US roadtrips we have 2-3 ‘one night’ stays, usually in a branded hotel chain.

Courtyard Marriott

Don’t be intimidated by staying just one night.  We use these stops to either break up a long drive or for those towns that can’t fill more than a day of activities.

Here are my top tips on how to do a one night-er…

  • Use Tripadvisor and pick somewhere with excellent ratings.  Just because it’s a cheap motel, doesn’t mean it can’t be clean and have great service.
  • Don’t be put off by the idea of all having to share a room!  If we are staying in a hotel for one night, then I have no qualms about our family of 4 all squeezing in to one room.  Rather than dread the lack of privacy, we all look forward to these nights as ‘sleepovers’ and are usually quite happy to have lights off by 9pm!  If you’re traveling with a baby, it’s even easier as you can just stick the travel cot in the bathroom.
  • As ‘one night guests’ I have occasionally found we have been directed to a room that is substandard e.g. dark & dingy or a broken bed.  Don’t accept this, go straight back to the front desk and complain.  Just because you are in for one night, doesn’t mean you should have their worst room!
  • I find certain brands are consistent in their good service.  I veer towards booking Courtyard Marriotts – my hotel of choice when staying at LAX.  We also had a great experience at their property in Alexandria, Louisiana. We were having one of those days on our roadtrip where nothing was going to plan (husband ill, attractions closed) and the staff were super helpful in pointing us in the right direction.
  • Even if you are staying for one night, you still might want decent facilities.  My kids are always devastated when they find out there’s no pool!
    Alexandria pool
  • Chain motel/hotels will all have loyalty programmes.  Sign up!  There’s no downside.
  • Unloading the car of all your luggage each night, can put people off multiple stops.  The trick here is to have a separate bag where you can pack all the essentials for one night e.g. change of clothes and toiletries for each family member.  This way no time is wasted unpacking/repacking the hotel room or car.
  • Get used to what you are packing/unpacking.  We left a few things in our first hotel on our Louisiana roadtrip so after that, I had a strategy in place on how to exit our hotel room with all our belongs intact.
  • Some motels will offer a ‘breakfast on the go’ in a brown paper bag.  This is particularly useful when you want to get up and out, so don’t forget to enquire about it at front desk.
  • Bear in mind safety if you’re staying in a motel where the door opens directly to the outside. Although a ground floor room might seem easier for getting in and out of the car, rooms slightly higher up are more difficult to get into.
  • Always familiarise yourself with the fire safety route.
  • If you are planning to be in town for only one night, check that the attractions you wish to see are open – especially if you have stopped off for a particular purpose. On our Louisiana roadtrip, we arrived in Alexandria on a Monday only to find most things were closed!  



  • Gluten Free Mrs D


    Great road trip tips! We just got back from driving from London to south west France with our 2 year old twins. We stopped over en route at IBIS hotels. (Functional, cheap but super comfy beds). I found the extra time it took me to really think ahead about what we’d all need and packing that into a separate bag which was then packed in an easily accessible place in the car (even if annoying at the time to do) was time well spent. I used to love road trips pre kids and after our recent trip, I’d happily do again even if it involved 1 night stops.

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