Usually, the better your child sleeps at home, the better he or she will sleep while you are traveling. But getting some children to sleep well while you are away from home can be a struggle. I do not recommend traveling for at least a few weeks after sleep training or after your child is consistently sleeping through the night (excluding babies under 6 months).
Here are my top 10 sleep tips for helping your children sleep while you are traveling:
- Before you travel, make sure you have a well-established nap and bedtime routine. Keep the routine the exact same while you are away. This will help your child know what to expect, even though they are not at home.
- You want the sleep environment to be as similar as possible to your child’s home sleep environment. Pack the lovey, bedtime books, and night light. You may want to pack your child’s sheets and blankets as well. Young children rely on their sense of smell much more than adults.
- Don’t forget the white noise machine. If you don’t have room to pack it, there are many white noise apps you can download to your phone. The HoMedics SoundSpa On-The-Go is another great option.
- If you are staying in a hotel, they usually have good blackout curtains but if you will be staying somewhere else, you may want to take along something to blackout the windows where your child will be sleeping. Foil or black trash bags can be taped to the windows with painters tape. Or you can take along a blackout liner or shades such as those found on my Resources page.
- Make sure you have a good place for your child to sleep. If you are staying at a hotel, talk to them before you leave about what options they have for your baby to sleep. You may even have to ask for the portable crib or Pack and Play to be reserved. When my family traveled to Disney World, we got a Pack and Play from the hotel for my two year-old and I asked for a portable crib mattress to put at the bottom of the Pack and Play. I opted for the Pack and Play as opposed to the portable crib as it had metal bars and I didn’t want her banging her head in the middle of the night. The thicker mattress helped her to feel more comfortable and she slept great! If you want or need to take along your own travel crib, the BABYBJORN Travel Crib Light is a good option. Another option for toddlers is the Shrunks Indoor Toddler Travel Bed.
- If your child is still taking naps, especially if they are under the age of three, try to return to wherever you are sleeping at night to put your child down. It may not be convenient, but it’s the best quality sleep. If that’s not possible, a nap in the car or stroller is better than no nap at all.
- If it’s possible for your children to sleep in a separate room, that usually makes things easier. If you must sleep in the same room with the kids, you can make a visual barrier by hanging a bed sheet so your children can’t see you.
- Avoid any overly-exciting activities right before your children go to bed. Also, do not allow them to watch TV or have any other screen time in the last hour or two before they sleep or it can interfere with the melatonin production in their bodies. Maintain the same bedtime routine that you use at home.
- If you are traveling across time zones and you will only be gone a few days, you may want to keep your child on her regular schedule according to the time zone you live in. But if you will be gone for more than a few days, you may want to get a head start by shifting your child’s schedule ahead or back a little each day before your trip. Put her to bed a little later each night and get her up later in the morning if you’re headed west, or put her to bed a bit earlier in the evening and wake her up earlier in the morning if you plan to travel east. Adjust nap times accordingly, too.
- Stick to your child’s schedule as much as you can without sacrificing all the fun on your trip, but once you get back home, try to get back to your normal routine as quickly as possible. Maybe have a day or two when you return where you don’t have anything planned and can give your kids the opportunity to rest up and get their schedules back on track.