Traveling with children can be a fun and rewarding experience. You get to take the chance to show them things they have never seen and watch their eyes fill up with wonder.
You get to watch as they try new foods, meet new people and gain experiences that will stay with them for a lifetime. Sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it?
Most of the time, it is a blast. However, there is one area that can sour your entire travel experience, sleeping.
Most children like consistency. They do best when they are tucked into their beds, perhaps with a favorite stuffed animal and are sleeping on a consistent schedule. Therefore, travel can really upset their routine.
However, this upset does not mean that you can’t travel with your children. You simply need a few tips to make things smoother.
In this article, we will give you eleven such tips, ensuring that both you and your children can sleep peacefully.
1) Be Well-Rested
Babies and children can accrue sleep debt very quickly. For that reason, it is important to make sure your kiddos are well-rested before you begin your journey.
Those children who are well-rested tend to adapt far more easily to losing a bit of sleep here and their than their non-rested counterparts.
2) Plan Around Sleep
Most children are excited or stimulated by travel of any kind. For that reason, it is important to plan your departure and arrival times around their naps.
If your little one happens to nap in the morning, leave after that morning nap and not before. Always try to arrive at your destination by their typical bedtime. Naps on the road are always less restorative.
If the child’s nap was shorter than normal, plan for an earlier bedtime.
3) Think Ahead
Going from their own bedroom to being crammed into a room with you can be difficult for everyone involved, not just the children. For that reason, a little planning can save your sanity.
If you are intending to stay in a hotel, splurging on a suite can be a good idea. That way, you can have more living space.
You can even save on food costs if you have a kitchenette. You can store your own milk and snacks which has the bonus benefit of making feeding your children more convenient.
However, sometimes you will wind up in one room. Rearrange the furniture, and hang a sheet from the ceiling to create a physical separation between you and the children.
A small crib or portable camping bed can be either brought from home or provided by the hotel. Tuck this into a bathroom, hallway or open closet, and your child can have a great sleep without winding up in your bed.
If the child does wind up in your bed, remind them that it is only a temporary arrangement and normal sleeping patterns will resume when you’re back home. Make sure to remind them often of the sleep rules.
4) Pack a Portable Bed
Sometimes, you need to bring a bed with you. In these situations, it is best to pack a camping air mattress.
These mattresses deflate and fold flat, making them ideal for tucking into your luggage. They can then be inflated either in the car as you travel or once you reach your destination.
5) Practice Makes Perfect
If you intend on bringing a portable bed or air mattress, let your child sleep on it for a few nights before the trip. That way, they will become familiar with the feel of it.
They will also likely think this is very exciting. After all, it isn’t every day you get to sleep on a portable mattress.
It’s also a great idea to talk to them about the plans that concern them. This way, they know what to expect, and melt-downs are less likely.
6) Sleep Accessories
There are a few essentials you need to pack beyond just the mattress. For example, packing your own sheets can go a long way in transitioning your child to a nice night’s sleep.
Children need familiarity, and the patterns, feels and smell can help them transition more smoothly.
Another thing that is necessary to bring is a few portable stuffed animals or security blankets. Whatever it is that your child won’t sleep without.
Though the temptation may be to pack all the toys ever, that’s not a good idea. Stick with just two or three.
A stroller can also be useful, even for children that can walk fine on their own. Pushing a stroller carrying a sleepy toddler is much easier than giving shoulder rides through the airport.
7) Keep the Routine
When traveling with children, it’s important to keep the same routines you would at home. Babies and toddlers thrive on the consistency of a solid routine.
For that reason, it’s important to make sure that your child’s meals are served at the same time each day and that they don’t sleep in. Sleeping in can throw off the rest of the day and lead to a sleepless toddler that night.
8) Youngest First
If you have two or more kids, and they have to share a room on vacation, try putting the youngest child to bed first. That way, you avoid any late-night rough-housing between your children.
Once the youngest child has been asleep for twenty or thirty minutes, you can send the oldest up to bed. Make sure to explain to them, however, that staying up late is a privilege, not a right.
9) Avoid the Sugar
It’s natural to want to indulge a bit when traveling. However, you should try to avoid sugar before naps or bedtime. Sugar can make your children excited, and ensure they have trouble sleeping.
10) Patience is a Virtue
When you are a parent, you likely know that patience is necessary. This rule does not change while you are on vacation.
It is likely that your children will act out or have temper tantrums while traveling. Remind yourself that they are only acting out because their routine has been shaken up.
However, being angry with the children will not help in this situation. Be patient and gentle with them, and it will make the whole situation a lot more smooth.
Despite popular beliefs, traveling with your kids doesn’t have to be a disaster of kicking, screaming and nightly melt-downs.
Instead, you can have children who go to sleep on time and wake up refreshed and excited for each new adventure.
Remember, patience and routine are key. Planning ahead will also ensure that things go as smoothly as they possibly can.
It is also important to make sure you have the proper sleep accessories, such as sheets from home, favorite stuffed animals and dolls, and perhaps even a white noise app to block out sounds that are unavoidable.
Finally, remember to pack your best inflatable bed. That way, your child can sleep anywhere you happen to be.
Vacations don’t have to be a stressful mess. If you follow the tips in this article, your child will have a wonderful time, and transition properly back to home life.