Summer is right around the corner and many of you are going to be packing up your family and taking a vacation. You’re looking forward to a break from your routine and some much-needed R&R. I’ll give you my best tips for how to actually have a “relaxing” vacation WITH kids along.
My BEST advice is don’t go on a vacation with a baby or toddler who isn’t already sleeping well if you can help it! Traveling in and of itself is exhausting. Reach out for help if your little ones’ sleep needs some troubleshooting before you leave!
Now let’s talk about some of my favorite tips and products for sleep when traveling. While relaxing the schedule and being more “go with the flow” is a necessary part of traveling with kids, we all know that rested kiddos (and parents!) are going to make for a better vacation for everyone!
Here are my top tips for making sure that everyone comes home from vacation feeling rested and rejuvenated!
Have A Sleep Plan
Make sure that you have a plan for setting up an environment that is conducive to sleep for everyone in your family. Ideally, if you can sleep in separate rooms from your kids that is the best-case scenario. If not, then here’s what you need to do to ensure that sleep happens for everyone when sleeping in the same room together. You will need to be able to control the light first and foremost. These are some of my favorite black-out curtains for traveling — https://bit.ly/3yLXNQX and these (https://amzn.to/3wqQEE4)
Pack Sleep Essentials
Bring familiar nursery items so the sleep space is as much like home as possible. Crib sheets, toddler pillow, favorite blanket, lovey, sleep sack/swaddle or favorite stuffed animal. A White noise machine is also a must when traveling as it blocks out unfamiliar sounds and allows everyone to function if all are sleeping in the same room. (Here is my favorite travel sound machine: https://amzn.to/38FjJ5l) It is re-chargeable in case you don’t have a plug nearby and can clip onto a stroller or car seat for naps on the go.
Set Up A Room Within A Room
If you have a baby or toddler still in a crib and will be room sharing then setting up a “room within a room” is a necessity. If your baby or toddler can see you from the crib your sleep plan is going to be doomed! My favorite portable sleep space is the slumber pod. It’s like a little cave and babies and toddlers both love it and sleep amazingly well in it! I’ve had parents set it up at home once they return, because their kiddos slept so well while on vacation! (Here is the link https://bit.ly/3LrOdFm)
If you have a toddler you can make up a floor bed if space is tight and use this inflatable bed (https://amzn.to/3Npbl92) If you’re going to be using a pack n play or similar, my best advice is to bring a king-size sheet or get one wherever you’re staying, and bring some thumbtacks with you. You can either put the pack-n-play in the closet and drape a sheet over the rod to create a “tent” or put the crib up against a wall and use the tacks to secure the sheet to the wall and drape over the crib.
This will create a “room” for your baby or toddler and keep them from being able to see you. This will keep them from being overly anxious about being in a new sleeping environment and because they won’t be able to see around the room it keeps stimulation to a minimum. This is SUPER helpful when sleeping in an unfamiliar environment. Pop your white noise machine under the crib and you’ve got yourself a perfect sleep space for your little one!
BUILD REST and MARGIN into your vacation. There is nothing worse for kids than being overbooked! It creates STRESS for everyone and will leave everyone feeling frustrated and anxious. Allow for downtime/playtime throughout your day. Plan for at least one crib nap a day and depending on where you are, maybe even two if your schedule allows. This will help keep your baby or toddler rested and make for a better vacation for everyone. If stroller or car naps have to happen that’s ok too. I’m a big believer in adaptability and predictability so do the best you can, but don’t let it stress you out! The schedule is not going to be perfect when traveling. For babies, keeping feeds on track will help tremendously in keeping sleep on track or mostly on track. When feeds start going awry so does sleep!
Plan Accommodations Carefully
If you’re at a hotel and can get a room that has an outdoor patio or space for you to relax while your baby or toddler naps this is also very convenient! It gives you some downtime, right outside your room while your baby is sleeping. Oh! And don’t forget the monitor. You may need it!
Go To The Beach
One of my favorite “relaxing” vacations with kids is the BEACH! Kids will play for HOURS in the sand and water. If you have a baby along they can sit on a blanket and play under an umbrella. Many babies will even nap on the beach. The sound of the water lulls them right to sleep! That means you can sit and relax while your kids play, pick up seashells and run up and down the beach. This also wears them out! This was by far our FAVORITE family vacation when our kids were little. We would go to Coronado, CA every summer and stay for 10 days, and aside from the beach prep AND clean-up, ( which was A LOT of work, I’m not gonna lie) the rest of the day was very relaxing for EVERYONE! The more kids can be outdoors in the fresh air the happier they will be.
Time Zone Changes
This can be a HUGE hassle when traveling with young kids or babies. If you’re going to be gone for less than two weeks, do your best to stay in your home time zone. Your kids may start to gravitate to the new time zone after week one and that’s ok. Just get back on track when you get home by waking them at their normal time. Don’t let vacation habits linger once you’re back. Get back into your normal routine right away. It may take 2-3 days for everyone to adjust to being home and back into their routine. Expect some struggle as your kids transition back into their sleep and activity routines.
Maintain a Bedtime Routine
Try to maintain the same or similar bedtime routine while on vacation. This helps your baby or toddler to feel safe and secure as it is a predictable part of their routine and cues their brain that it’s time for sleep.
I hope these tips have been helpful and you are feeling more prepared for traveling and making memories with your young kiddos. Reach out to me for more tips and sleep help if you’re feeling anxious or unprepared. I’m always here to help!