For many families, spring break travels are just around the corner. The desire to escape the cold and get away from it all for a week is a wish that any parent can get behind. However, the stress and even fear that a parent can experience when thinking about traveling with kids can really make one second guess on whether or not they want to embark the adventure of traveling with their littles. Here’s the good news – a lot of kids are GREAT travelers. As long as parents take some time to account for their child’s routine and schedule while on vacation, traveling with children can be a great time.
A very important thing for parents to consider is how their travel plans are going to affect their child’s sleep routine. You’ll have a much more enjoyable vacation if you organize your trip in a way that allows for as little disruption as possible to your little one’s sleep schedule. Doing so will help ensure that the littles get the rest they needs to be happy and healthy during your trip—which is bound to make your holiday more enjoyable for everyone!
Here are some tips to help ensure sure your baby gets the sleep he needs during your travels:
Tip 1: Don’t Over-Schedule
One of the biggest mistakes parents make is to try to jam in all the fun and adventure they might have had back in the days of when they were kid-free. The fact is, when you travel with a baby, you can’t plan to go zip-lining in the morning, snorkel in the early afternoon, go deep-sea fishing in the late afternoon, and take in a show in the evening.
It’s better to slow down the pace and make sure you schedule regular naps and early bedtimes, just like you would at home.
Tip 2: Be consistent with the Sleep Schedule
An occasional nap in the car seat or a later-than-usual bedtime probably won’t cause too much trouble, but if your child’s naps are all over the place and they goes to bed much later than usual several days in a row, it can make for a really cranky and overtired child, in which a complete meltdown will be inevitable. Who wants to deal with that on vacation?
Tip 3: Be Patient with the Adjustment
Even if your baby is the best little sleeper at home, when you’re in a strange environment in a new location, things might be very different. It’s normal for babies and toddlers to test boundaries around sleep when they’re somewhere new. Just because you have certain rules at home, your child won’t automatically understand that the same rules apply at Grandma’s house or the hotel.
In a strange place, your baby might cry for a while at bedtime or wake up at odd times during the night. The best way to handle this kind of behavior is to react the same way you would at home. Go to them every five – 10 minutes or so to offer a bit of reassurance, but other than that, don’t bend your rules. If you hang on tight to your consistency, within the first night or two, your child will be used to the new environment and will be sleeping well again.
Tip 4. Make sure you bring your child’s stuffed friend and/or blanket
If your child has a treasured comfort item, it will go a long way to helping them feel safe and secure enough to fall asleep in a strange environment. Forget it and you may find yourself frantically searching on Amazon or eBay and paying for overnight shipping for a satisfactory replacement!
Tip 5. If you’re not a bed-sharing family, don’t start now!
Another big mistake parents make is to start sharing a bed with their baby or toddler while traveling. Even if it’s only for a few nights, if your baby decides this is their new preferred way to sleep, you could find yourself dealing with a big problem when you get home and put them back in their crib.
The good news is, most hotels have a crib or pack and play you can use or rent. You could also take your portable playpen along and use that as a crib.
In the End...
Traveling with your kids can lead to a vacation full of memorable experiences and adventures. Taking some time to prepare and plan for your child’s schedule, routine, and sleep environment will go a long way in ensuring that everyone remains comfortable and happy during the trip. Who knows, you might find yourself eagerly booking the next family trip as soon as you arrive back home once you see how your child can be a champion traveler and sleeper while away from home.
If you find yourself experiencing struggles while traveling with your child, or you feel like sleep has become a huge challenge since arriving home from vacation, don’t hesitate to reach out and sign up for a call to speak with me about what’s happening. I can help you work with your child to get them back on track.
I am a Pediatric Sleep Consultant who works with families to help them resolve their littles' sleep issues. As a mom of two littles herself, Katie has walked in the shoes of her clients and is passionate about helping them re-discover peaceful sleeps in their own homes.