It’s the holidays, it’s time to travel, and you are thinking “Oh my! How are we going to do this?”
Of course, the best way to get sleep through the holiday season is to stay home and stick to the routine! But of course, that’s not always the case in this thing we call life. Usually the better your child sleeps at home, the better your child will sleep while you are traveling. Here are some of my top travel sleep tips to help you travel with ease this holiday season so that you can get sleep even when you are on the go! Don’t want to read about it, click to watch the 3 part series: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 videos about getting sleep when you travel to get more additional details.
- Before you travel, make sure you have a well-established nap and bedtime routine. Keep the routine the same while you are away as this will help your child know what to expect, even though they are not at home.
- Keep bedtime rituals and recreate the sleep environment.
- 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.
- Try to come back to the sleep space for naps. Do what it takes to fill the sleep tank even if it means sleeping on the go. Getting some sleep will be better than no sleep which will help your child from becoming overtired and you miserable.
- Plan for earlier bedtimes. Many times being away from home you will be busier than your normal routine and this can over stimulate your child and they may be a little more tired than usual.
- Accommodate your child’s temperament- advocate for them when they can’t.
- Be patient and kind with yourself, your child, and your spouse.
- Come back 1 to 2 days earlier to resettle and reestablish sleep at home.
- Remind older children who share a room or end up sleeping with you that this is a special treat and that when they get home, they will go back to the regular routine and plan.
- Stick to your child’s schedule and routine as much as you can without sacrificing all the fun on your trip. Otherwise while you are away, you may find yourself asking yourself, “Why is my child acting this way?”
Packing and traveling is a whole new experience when you are a parent!
Before you get to your destination you’ll want to think about how you can recreate the sleep environment for your trip. Here are some things to think about:
- Where are you staying?
- What are the sleep arrangements?
Crib, pack ‘n’ play, or sleeping in bed with you
- Keep the routine, modify the schedule.
- Keep bedtime rituals but include other family and friends when you can.
- Get your child acquainted with their sleep space. Make sure that your child gets used to their sleep space before bedtime. The more your child is use to the space, the easier it will be for them to sleep in it.
When traveling with little ones, it can be hard to pack light. Depending on your destination, check to see if it is possible to borrow items from friends or family to help minimize your need to pack everything. There will be plenty of people and experiences in your new location to help keep your little one entertained.
What to pack when you are thinking about sleep:
- Sleeping bag
- Sleep sack
- Favorite book
- Sheets from home
- White noise
- Video monitor
- Stroller that reclines
- Night light
- Black trash bag
- Pack N Play
- Ergo carrier
- Car shade
- Small bag of newer toys (watch the video to see what I mean)
Time zones and how to deal with the time change
The hardest part of the trip is when there is a time change. Our body has a natural internal body clock, better known as the circadian rhythm. When the time changes by more than 30 minutes, our body doesn’t always make the switch as easily, which is what helps us regulate during the day. Children from about 4 months of age until 2 years of age will be most affected by time zone changes.
Here are my top suggestions to help you make the adjustments before the trip:
If you are heading out West:
- Put your child to bed a little later each night and get your child up later in the morning.
If you are heading out East:
- Put your child to bed a bit earlier in the evening and wake your child up earlier in the morning.
- And of course adjust nap times accordingly.
Quick trip tip
- If you will be at your new destination a little longer, than adjust to the new time when you get there.
- I like to use the British Airways Jet Lag Calculator to help understand when to seek light, avoid light, plan for meals and exercise to help minimize jet lag.
Some children are adaptable, some not so much. You know your child best, so you’ll need to plan or adjust accordingly. Have fun, make memories, safe travels, and sweet dreams when you are on the go!
What are your tips and suggestions to help parents travel with their little ones?