One of my biggest fears as a parent has been traveling with my children. No, I’m not scared of airplanes or new foods or different cultures, I’m afraid that I’m going to royally mess up their sleep schedules making the trip a total flop. Yes, I’m crazy about sleep.
Fear not, my friends. I have some amazing and easy tips to follow as you and your kiddos travel across time zones, cultures, bodies of water, and miles of highway. Thanks to these great tidbits I’m hitting the road as much as possible with my kiddos from here on out.
Before you travel
Be sure that your child is well rested before you depart. Traveling by train, plane or automobile with an overtired child is disastrous. For the three days before you depart be sure that there are no late night plans or skipped naps. If you accomplish this, you will be well on your way to having a happy little traveler.
What you need to bring with you so that your first night is as easy as possible!
1. Bedding that smells like home
2. Sound machine and monitors
3. Tinfoil and painter’s tape
4. Loveys and books
When to travel
If your child still naps and will not sleep in a moving vehicle/plane/train, plan for early morning flights so that you can offer them a nap upon arrival in your destination, or during a layover.
If you are traveling by car, leaving around nap time (if your child will sleep in the car) is ideal. If the car trip is far, leaving in the early morning is best so that you are about 2 hours into your trip before the kiddos know what is going on.
What to do when you get to your destination
If it’s nap time when you arrive at your destination get your child to sleep ASAP. If they don’t nap or the nap is short, shoot for an early bedtime.
Your traveling day is going to be hectic. Give up on any idea that your child will arrive in your destination well rested. If they do, what a pleasant surprise!
Time changes should be addressed rather quickly if you are going to be staying somewhere for more than 2-3 days. If you are changing time zones for only a few days, it is probably best to just keep your child on their home time zone.
If you will be in a new time zone for longer than 3 days, try to get your child on their typical schedule in the new time zone as quickly as possible. Day 1 after travel may be an hour off, but by day 2 you should be on schedule. Use natural light to wake them and to keep them awake until naps and bedtime. Use tinfoil and painter’s tape to cover the windows to provide a super dark sleeping space. Use sound machines in their rooms or in hallways to keep outside noises from disturbing them.
Enjoy yourself! If you keep your kids on an age appropriate schedule and respect normal nap and bedtimes, you will have a wonderful vacation with well rested children.
Happy and safe travels to you and yours!!