- Q) We would like to do some travelling with our young family but are scared that they won’t sleep while away! Do you have any tips?
- A) Absolutely! Children are actually more flexible with their sleep compared to adults provided you honor their routines and stay as close as possible to their schedule. Children with strong sleep skills will “sleep anywhere and for anybody.” A strange room and a new bed does not cause anxiety like it can for adults. Here is a comprehensive list of tips so that you can enjoy your
vacation as a happy and well rested family.
- Book airplane travel for early morning flights when children are their freshest and the happiest. Do not expect them to nap on the plane, but bring their favourite stuffy, blanket and book and let them sleep in your arms if they can.
- Depending on your chosen destination, you might want to break up your flights. If your children are not disturbed by take offs and landings, then breaking up the trip can make it more enjoyable for you and your family even if it takes longer. This way, your children can stretch their legs as many airports have play areas for young children.
- Make your destination time be by 6:00 pm ideally so that you can get them to bed early if necessary.
- Try to have a separate sleeping area for your child/ren by upgrading to a suite if possible.
- Ask the Hotel to set up the playpen or crib before you arrive. Take an extra playpen as a back up.
- Try to get an early check in at your Hotel so you can have an afternoon nap once you arrive. If this is not possible, count on an early bedtime at 6pm the first night. Do not stress if they do not nap at all on the day you travel to your destination – it is just one day.
- If you cannot get an early check in for a nap in the Hotel, enjoy a stroller or a car ride nap. Still do your nap routine before you put them down for their nap. Keep driving or walking for at least an hour while they sleep – enjoy the views of your new destination.
- If you have a suite – set up the playpen/crib in the master room where you are going to be sleeping later that night. Do your loving bedtime bath just like you are at home. Bring along some of their favourite bath toys, bath towel and books. Put them to bed at their regular bedtime or as early as 6pm if they have not slept well during the day in the crib in your room.
- Go into the living area and order room service and enjoy your evening watching a movie. Some hotels can also get baby sitters for you if you want to go out for dinner.
- When you want to go to bed, gently wake your child up and move the crib/playpen into the living room/suite area rather than sleeping on the pull out. Sing them a quick song and put them back to bed quickly.
- If you need to share a room with your little one, put up a sheet or a curtain (a visual barrier) between you and their playpen or their bed.
- If you prefer “non-stop” travel, consider driving at night! Have the car all packed and ready to go by 6:30pm. Do your bath and get them all dressed for bed. (For infants and toddlers, there are travel friendly sleep sacks). Complete the rest of your routine either in your home or once they are buckled into their car seats. Tuck them in with their favourite blankets and loveys. During the summer months, it may take them longer to fall asleep than normal .
- When you arrive at your destination – 2 hours, 4 hours,6 or 8 hours later, wake them up. While one of you gets their playpen or bed ready, take them for a quick tour of the house. Once the beds are ready, put them back down awake with their loveys with some kisses and hugs. You do not need to do your full bedtime routine all over again.
- For daytime travel, try to either arrive in time for a nap in a crib or playpen at your destination. Or, start driving when it is nap time and do their nap routine in their car seat. For 18 to 3 year olds, it is usually better to break up the daytime travel trip and plan for a picnic and play at a park even though your overall travel time may be longer.
STAYING at FRIENDS and FAMILY
- Request a separate sleeping area for your child and their playpen.
- Honor their naptime(s) and bedtime
- Stick to your routines
- Friends and Family can do the routines for you – Your child will be happy as long as the routine is the same as it is with you
- You can start his bedtime at one house and finish it at another – even with a car ride in between! This is much better than having your child get overtired and trying to stretch him to 9 or 10 pm at night. It will also be more relaxing for you.
ADDING SOME FLEXIBILITY
- For naps, it is OK if it is in a stroller or a car ride every few days while you are on vacation but I wouldn’t recommend it for every single nap. Honor their sleep like you do at home and you will all end up having a much more enjoyable vacation. You andyour spouse can also nap in the afternoon while they are sleeping
- You can try one day without a nap at all if you have a very special event. Your child may be OK. My kids aren’t and we all end up very cranky, so we rarely ever missed a nap unless we were on a plane.
TIME ZONE CHANGES
- Simply JUMP in to the new zone both where you are going and when you are coming back. Those babies and children who are well rested actually adjust much better than adults. The reason? They are not carrying sleep debt and we are! Most adults do not honor own sleep needs and that’s why we suffer from jet lag.