Are you ready to resume traveling?
After being home for the past year, many families are gearing up to start traveling again. Hitting the road with kids is normally a bit stressful, but after not practicing for quite some time, stress levels are even higher. You’ve put in the time, effort, and energy to get your travel planned, so now it’s time to start thinking about how to help your family get good sleep while traveling.
If you’re like most parents, your biggest fear is that vacation will go south quickly because of cranky and tired kiddos. If the mere thought of leaving your house for a few nights has caused you to postpone a trip or avoid travel all together, you are not alone.
The good news – you do not have to cancel all travel plans and stay confined to the house any longer! It is possible to have children who get good sleep while traveling if you keep these 6 hacks in mind.
Scheduling hacks to get good sleep while traveling
Hack 1: The biggest mistake parents make while traveling is over-scheduling their families. This is especially true now that things are opening up again! Trying to pack in all the fun and adventure that we’ve been missing out on is great, but be sure to not OVER plan because this is when overtiredness and overstimulation occur. If you have 6 activities in mind, we suggest cutting it back to 4. Kiddos can typically handle about 80% of what we think they can without hitting a wall!
Hack 2: An occasional car nap or slightly later bedtime will not do too much harm, but if your child spends multiple days in a row taking car seat naps and having later bedtimes, they may become so overtired that a meltdown in inevitable. To avoid this and maintain good sleep while traveling, we suggest “staggering the busy” so that every full day is followed by a more mellow one to recover any lost sleep.
Environment hacks for travel nights
Hack 3: Make sure you bring your child’s lovey and/or blanket, sound machine, sleep sack and favorite books for bedtime. The more closely the travel environment mimics the home environment, the less chance of confusion and set back! In the summer months, it is important to keep their sleep spaces as dark as possible — black trash bags and painters tape are a great option, or you can invest in something like these portable blackout shades.
Hack 4: When possible, try to make some sort of a private space for your whole family to get good sleep while traveling. This could be the bathroom (if it’s big enough), a closet, or a partition between you and your child set up by a dresser. By creating this separate space, the likelihood that they will get stimulated and excited upon seeing you if they wake in the night decreases. Of course, getting an extra bedroom in an AirBNB or VRBO for your child is great if that’s an option for you.
Mindset hacks for good sleep while traveling
Hack 5: It’s very normal for babies and children to test the boundaries around sleep when they are somewhere new. Just because the rule is the rule at home, that does not necessarily mean the rule is the same at Grandma’s house. This may mean that your child protests for quite some time at bedtime or has a night waking or two where they come out of their room. The best way to handle this is to not do too much different than you would if the regression happened at home. Hold tight to your consistency and you will find that within the first night or two, your child will be used to the new environment and will be able to get good sleep while traveling!
Hack 6: Take a breather. If you are anxious about sleep and worried about naps, schedules and bedtime, your little ones will pick up on it. They feel your feels, mama, so it’s best to take a deep breath and recognize that not all travel sleep will be perfect. The less you cling to the outcome, the better things are likely to go!
Grace and space when traveling
In spite of their best efforts, many parents find themselves reverting back to old, familiar sleep props with their little ones when they travel. If you find that sleep and schedules have fallen apart during your vacation, remember that it is always possible to get back on track once back to “normal” life at home!
As soon as you get home, set clear expectations, hold your boundaries and remember that sleep is a skill that can always be recalled. Hold tight to the memory that your child is capable of doing this, they might just need a little “post travel” reminder from you! And if you need some help establishing good sleep skills, or getting back on track, the Sleeper Teachers® are here for you!