Making An Extended Stay Hotel Trip More Like Home

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Part of the Permanent Change of Station (PCS) process is staying in a hotel for awhile between pack out and when your goods arrive at your new home. Luckily we found a nice pet friendly extended stay hotel in the area. While it has some awesome perks, it still isn’t easy. Being able to go downstairs for breakfast is great, but that means I have to shower and get dressed 🙂 Having a kitchen is also helpful but cooking without any of your own cookware can be challenging.

We finally leave this week for Canada and I spent some time reflecting on what we brought to make our stay feel more like home. I also thought about a few things we didn’t bring that would have helped. Here are just a few of the most important ones I came up with.

1. Pillows and blankets, and lovies
While they can take up a lot of space in a suitcase, it’s amazing what a difference having your own can make. The smells you are use to and the textures can instantly remind you of home.

2. Hand Soap
I don’t know about you but using the bar soap in the bathroom always annoys me. For a short weekend stay it isn’t a big deal but with lots of diaper changes and messes to clean up I wash my hands a fair amount. Instead of throwing away our soap containers from the apartment I brought them along to use in the hotel bathrooms and in the kitchen. Having a familiar scent around was refreshing.

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3. Diffuser
If you tend to use a lot of candles in your home or diffuse essential oils, I think having 1-2 in your hotel is a must. We brought along our main diffuser for our room and our travel one for the kids room. Not only did it help me keep calm during a pretty stressful time, like putting together my daughters ONEderland birthday, but it kept the rooms smelling nice.

4. Towels
Even at the fancy hotels towels are a little gross. I mean, think about where they have been. Even bleached I still cringe. Now most people who have to fly out on a PCS won’t want to waste valuable space on towels but depending on how long you will be in a hotel it may be a worth while investment. You can find reasonably priced linens at Walmart and Bed Bath & Beyond using coupons.

Hotel Favorites

VTech Spinning Lights Learning Hippo | Lamaze Flip Flap Dragon | Play-Doh | VTech Write and Learn Activity Center | Tinkertoy Wild Wheels Building Set

5. Books and Toys
I will admit most of our car was toys and books for the kids. While it was a little bit of a pain to pack them up and haul them to the hotel and then to Canada, it was WELL worth it. Having some familiar toys around to keep them busy really helped keep all of us sane on those rainy days when we didn’t want to venture out. Here were a few of our favorites that still packed fairly well in suitcases.

6. Hanging Clothes
Utilizing the closets and drawers allowed us to put away all of the suitcases which instantly made it feel more permanent. It was easier to find clothes, pack for our vacation, and keep the rooms as clutter free as possible.

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7. Flowers
Even a small bouquet in a glass will instantly brighten up a room and help it feel a little more like home. Some of my favorite places to grab a bunch of flowers or nice arrangement is Costco and Wegmans.

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8. Kitchen Items
I found this mini IKEA dish rack at a thrift store years ago and it is my favorite travel item. It’s great for keeping the kids cups and medicine droppers off of the counters. I also always have a small bottle of Dapple (for the kids stuff) in our travel bag. Instead of throwing it away, I brought along the left over dish soap from the apartment. Although the hotel provided us with dish soap and dishwasher pods, it was nice to have our own.

9. Snacks and Drinks
Most extended stay hotels have a kitchen that comes with the basic necessities to cook meals. It was nice when we got tired of eating out to make spaghetti or make a quick PB & J. In addition to a few staple groceries, we made sure to have some of our favorite snacks on hand. It saved us money buying in bulk instead of raiding the vending machine late at night. I had the kids favorites including apple juice to maintain their routine of after nap snacks etc…

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10. Night Time Routine Comforts
Special bath toys, sound machines, and lovies really seemed to help Parker and Caity adapt to their new home. Nightlights and battery operated candles are also helpful to light up the rooms enough to move around without having to turn on the harsh hotel lighting.

Giving Thanks And A Little Shopping

I decided to combine a few posts into one about our trip home to NJ for Thanksgiving. I know I always say, “this is my favorite holiday” for every single one but I love them for different reasons. For Thanksgiving, you get to spend time with family, eat some delicious food, shop and at the end, start decorating for the next holiday. No waiting in between!

Wednesday
I was really excited when Rob got the “wink” that he wouldn’t have to work on Thanksgiving. I was prepared to stay home and make a nice dinner for the three of us, but welcomed the good news.

Rob got home Wednesday morning, we packed the car and headed to NJ. I drove since he had been working all night and welcomed the peace and quite when both the boys were sleeping (all 30 minutes of it!). We made it home in pretty good time and actually beat my Mom and Sister who were out shopping.

Thursday

Thanksgiving was so much fun, as usual. If you know me IRL (in real life) you know that I come from a decent size family, on each side. This Thanksgiving we had 35 for dinner. P did great and my cousins, Aunts and Uncles were super sweet to him. He sat in his high chair and had oatmeal and peas while we all at dinner.

Since we had dinner at my Uncles office, we decided to do a little photo shoot. 🙂

“Let’s see, if I can just grab this and make a few folds…”
Ah, Daddy would be please!”
“I simply don’t understand what all the commotion is about. These cubicles are HUGE!”
“Listen, if you want me to sleep through the night I am gonna need something in return. “
We decided to leave Big Chief a note for when he came back into work. 
For the past five years (ish) I have been able to go Black Friday shopping. Some years it was with my Mom and Sister, then with Rob and this year I got to go with all three while P stayed home with his Big Chief. After Thanksgiving dinner, we hung out in our room and came up with a game plan.

We were well prepared and I even downloaded and awesome Black Friday app where I could scan the sales and even make a wishlist by store.

Friday
We got up at 3:30 and were out the door by 4:00 am. Every year I seem to run into someone and wish that I looked a little more presentable. This year I actually got dressed, washed my face, brushed my teeth, put on some pearls and even some mascara. Go figure, I did not see ONE person I knew. Oh well, at least I felt like a million bucks 😉

First stop was of course Kohls!

We made out really well and since the store opened the night before, we walked in to no lines. Pretty good deal seeing as though we didn’t want any of the crazy items, just the sales and Kohls cash. Mom even found a box of candy bigger than her head!

Our next stop was the mall. Let’s just say, it wasn’t very crowded…

After a quick and successful trip to Bonton (we finally found an item where you could use that stupid $10 off a single item $10 or more excluding doorbusters) and Sears, we headed home to unload our first hull of goods.

I checked in on Big Chief and P, who were still sleeping and we set out again! This time we headed to Home Depot, Lowes, Bed Bath and Beyond, Michales and Hobby Lobby. No surprise here, Michaels and Hobby Lobby were among my favorites and I scored a bunch of cute decorations for the house! Our last stop was Toys R Us to pick up a baby gate that was on sale. I also managed to score some Baby Gantics products that were buy 1 get 1 free!

“Do I need to stop for spreading.” In reference to our stop at the Panera drive-through for breakfast.

“On to the screw section.” In reference to trying to find organizer containers for screws and nails in Home Depot. I also caught some pretty funny shots on camera…

I was so excited when they agreed to let me take their picture for my blog! This is the Black Friday spirit I LOVE! 
Apparently we all wanted/needed cutting boards and decided we would give them to each other for Christmas but would actually take ours home this weekend to start using.
This will be perfect for P when he visits Bam and Chief! 

But here is my favorite… About 9:00 am we started talking about lunch because we had already been up for 5ish hours. There was a Texas Roadhouse that I suggested but my Sister promptly said, this isn’t a sit down lunch kind of day. Then my Mom proceeded to say, while making this motion, “this is a hamburger in your face kind of day”. I spent the next 10 minutes or so laughing!

At the end of the day, we packed the car as tight as we could and headed home to look through our stash to see how we made out!

Of course, Daddy snuck in some cuddles with his little P!

Saturday ~ Sissy’s moving day! 
On Saturday we packed up a trailer and moved Sarah to her new apartment. 

Completing her move-in apartment check. 
Since the door was open, Bam insisted that P was cold and put socks on his hands. He wasn’t a fan but what Bam wants, Bam gets 😉
She definitely had less stuff than we did! 

We had such a great weekend and I am so happy we were able to make it home to NJ! Our trip back to VA included several stops for diaper changes but we were glad to be home and to start decorating for the holidays!