Making sure your kids have a fantastic time while on vacation doesn’t always have to mean spending a ton of money. And when your plans change because of unexpected weather, an indoor Hotel Scavenger Hunt may be just what the doctor ordered to keep your kids busy and having fun at the hotel. Best of all, it’s free!

Hotel common spaces, like the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista's beautiful lobby, are great spots for scavenger hunts! Photo credit: Wyndham.

Hotel common spaces, like the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista’s beautiful lobby, are great spots for scavenger hunts! Photo credit: Wyndham.

You’ve spent all this money on an amazing vacation and arrive at your destination – let’s say Disney World – only to have your plans derailed by rain. Sure, you can bundle up and go to the parks and you probably will, but can you really handle 16 hours outdoors in the rain? I can’t! So what’s a mom to do?

Time for a Hotel Scavenger Hunt!

Hotel Scavenger Hunts are a great way for your kids to become more familiar with the resort you’re at, and even learn a few fun things along the way. You can have little ones search the room for things, and set older kids free to explore the hotel. And if you’ve just arrived and rain has you grounded indoors, a scavenger hunt is a great way to burn off extra energy after sitting in a car or on a plane all day.

You can find free printables online, but I highly recommend designing your own game, customized for the hotel where you are staying. We recently stayed at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista, an official Walt Disney World property right across from Disney Springs (in fact it’s the closest hotel to the attraction!) and had a great time putting together a scavenger hunt.

Off-Site Hotels at Disney World - Wyndham LBV

The Wyndham Lake Buena Vista is the closest hotel to Disney Springs, meaning you can walk to shops and restaurants.
Photo credit: Leslie Harvey / Frequent Flyer TravelingMom

Do a Photo Scavenger Hunt

Photo scavenger hunts combine technology and exercise – it’s a win-win! Have kids use their phone cameras to take pictures of their finds, rather than collect tangible objects. By not having to gather items like “5 travel brochures” or a “10 packets of sweetener” you really cut down waste at the end of the game, and it is easier for kids to play since they don’t have to carry around random items. It also opens the door for some very creative ideas – you can take pictures of so many more locations and items than you could ever bring back to the room.

For example:
1. Find a red chair.
2. Find a picture of Pluto.
3. Find something you use to learn information.

Character signs are a great item to capture on a photo scavenger hunt. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist, Healthy TravelingMom.

Character signs are a great item to capture on a photo scavenger hunt. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist, Healthy TravelingMom.

Count Your Way to the Win

Designing a scavenger hunt that instructs kids to count things is also a great way to play that does not require collecting items. We had a great time doing this at the Wyndham, as there are so many fun spaces there to explore.
Here are some sample questions:
1. How many light fixtures in the lobby?
2. How many kinds of stuffed animals are sold in the gift shop?
3. How many stairs on grand staircase?
4. How many rooms are on the 8th floor of the hotel?

How many stairs on the Wyndham's grand lobby staircase? Photo credit: Gwen Kleist, Healthy TravelingMom.

How many stairs on the Wyndham’s grand lobby staircase? Photo credit: Gwen Kleist, Healthy TravelingMom.

In the Room

You can create a fun little hunt right inside your hotel room if your kids are young or for whatever reason you’re not comfortable letting them wander free! In this case, make it a little more challenging by having clues that lead them to the next clue and then the next. This is my son’s favorite way to play; in fact, he enjoys designing the questions and having me do the hunt more than he enjoys searching for the clues himself.

A sample in-room scavenger hunt for a young child:
1. This is where mom makes her morning drink (coffee pot)
2. You go in here to get clean (bath tub)
3. When you’re tired, you put your head on top of this (pillow)

Make Them Do Their Research

In addition to finding items, asking older kids to dig for information is a great way to engage them in a Hotel Scavenger Hunt. Design questions that peek into the hotel’s history, or make them have to read signs or ask questions to come up with the right answers to write down.

Here are some examples from our stay at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista:
1. What year did the hotel open?
2. What was the hotel’s original name?
3. What are the hours of the hotel’s restaurant?

Stay Safe on the Hunt

It goes without saying, but remind your kids to follow general safety rules to keep themselves and others safe. No running. No going outside. No talking to strangers unless they are on staff at the hotel. And absolutely, positively no going inside anyone’s room!

Pick a treat as an award for winning! Photo credit: Gwen Kleist, Healthy TravelingMom.

Pick a treat as an award for winning! Photo credit: Gwen Kleist, Healthy TravelingMom.

Reward Success

Finally, have a prize in mind for the winner of the Hotel Scavenger Hunt. It doesn’t gave to be anything big – maybe a special treat or the promise to have your winner sit in the front seat of the roller coaster first, if that’s their gig! The Disney Store at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista has a super selection of candy and treats kids can select.

However you end the game, make sure it’s something lighthearted and fun. And maybe give a little something to all the players, so nobody’s feelings get hurt.

Happy Hunting!