Taking the Stress Out of Traveling

By Renee Wasserman, PT, MPH December 25, 2015
I remember the days of traveling with three young kids. It often felt that the worries of how our little ones would sleep when away from home made us question whether it was worth taking the trip. Planning ahead and following these travel tips took the stress out of traveling and made our family trips restful, enjoyable, and definitely worthwhile!

Bring Your Sleep Environment with You
  • Keep your sleep environment as similar as possible to your home environment by bringing a familiar sheet, lovey, sleep sack, pacifier, portable sound machine, and anything else that is part of your baby’s sleep environment.
Keep Your Schedule When Possible
  • Try to stick to nap times and bed times as much as you can but remember that it may not be possible every day.
  • If it’s not possible to get both naps in the crib, aim to for a solid morning nap and then take the afternoon nap on the go.
Don’t Forget to Bring . . .
  • If you are staying with friends, it is a good idea to bring your baby monitor. You will be able to enjoy your time with the adults knowing that your little one is sound asleep.
  • Bring a box of black trash bags and some painter’s tape. With these items in hand, you can make any room into a very dark room!
  • Bring a stroller even for your older toddler. Best to plan for a flight delay or a stroller nap, if necessary.
Maintain Consistent Routines for Naps and Bedtime
  • Keep your nap and bedtime routines similar to what you do at home.
  • Allow a little extra time for your routine if your little one seems over-stimulated from the day’s adventures.
  • Avoid creating new habits while away from home. Continue to put your child to bed calm but awake and try your best to respond in the middle of the night as you would at home.
Where to Sleep
  • If traveling by car, throw a Pack & Play in the trunk since hotel cribs are often unreliable. If traveling by airplane, consider renting a crib at your destination.
  • Consider booking a hotel suite to allow your little one his own space to sleep.
  • When you get to your hotel, be creative! A bathroom or closet can make the perfect makeshift room.
  • If you co-sleep while traveling, be sure to continue following all precautions for safe bed sharing.
When to Leave on Your Travels
  • Some babies travel best at times when they would normally be sleeping.  If this is your child, plan to start your travels just before naptime, take a red eye, or drive through the night.
  • If your baby is not a good sleeper on the go, I’d recommend leaving first thing in the morning or after the first nap of the day.
  • Do your best to arrive at your destination in time for a regular bedtime.
  • Use an app on your phone for white noise. Be sure to put your phone on airplane mode so that an incoming call does not wake your sleeping angel.
Come Home a Day Early
  • If at all possible, return home a day before you need to get back into your regular routine. This will give everyone a chance to get into the swing of things before post-vacation life starts up again!
Most Importantly, Have Fun and Be Flexible
  • Relax and enjoy your time away. Yes, it is a good idea to try to stick to your baby’s schedule as much as possible, but it is just as important to be flexible. Kids are more resilient than we give them credit. As long as you jump back into your sleep plan as soon as you get home, your baby should be back to his old sleep habits in no time!
Renee Wasserman, PT, MPH, founder of SleepyHead Solutions, is a Family Sleep Institute-certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant. She offers many services including phone, email, Skype/FaceTime, and in-person consultations to solve your child’s sleep challenges. Feel free to email her with any questions. You can find out more information at her website and on her Facebook page.