Planning a holiday with little ones?
If you’re planning to travel with your little ones then you won’t want to leave without reading these practical, straightforward tips!
Travel can be such an exciting time for a family. All the new experiences, new places and for most it means quality time together as a family unit without work, schedules, chores, jobs and places to be. However, with all that excitement comes lots of change and uncertainty especially for little ones. Even without a time difference, holidays and travel can cause your little one to experience unsettled sleep but if travel is important to you it shouldn’t stop just because you have little ones now. It is important that you get to experience quality time together as a family and travel is an amazing way to create some truly spectacular memories.
“I promise you the memories of the holiday have far outlived the memories of the unsettled sleep.”
We’ve had many interstate and international holidays with multiple time zones together as a family and we have always managed to get sleep back on the straight and narrow within just a couple of days.
Here I’ll share my top tips so you can too.
1. Check the sleeping arrangements where you are staying
We have been caught out before thinking we had a cot provided only to find it was actually a bassinet and was far too small (and unsafe) for our 12kg toddler. If a separate sleep space is important for you or your little one, check what is provided ahead of time and consider taking your own portacot.
2. Pack some novelty toys
If you are expecting to be travelling for a long time such as in a car, train or plane pack some new (small) toys or activities that will keep small fingers busy. For older children these busy books, sticker books such as these reusable ones are great for working imagination, fine motor skills and language skills. I also love these threading activities as they are nice and small so don’t take up too much space. For the smaller children anything that they can hold in their hands, chew on or have multiple textures and sounds are often a big hit. Try this set of interactive books that also come with a clip so they don’t get dropped (hurrah)
3. Take familiarity with you
This may sound crazy but changing your little one’s bed sheets and pyjamas the night before you go away and then taking your slept in bedding with you when you go can help to settle your little one to sleep when you get there. Familiar is safe.
4. Get your little one involved in packing if they're old enough
If you’re little one is taking their own carry on bag or suitcase allow them some choice (toddlers especially love to feel a sense of control in their environment) in which bag they take and what they pack. Have lots of age appropriate conversations about what to expect and what is happening so that they can prepare themselves.
5. Take some of their favourites
If your little one has a favourite book, a favourite comforter, set of PJ’s or even bath towel try to take these with you (and maybe even a spare if you’re away a while). Anything that they are familiar with will help them to feel settled when faced with new environments.
6. Blackout blind
We would never leave home to go away without (at least one) set of blackout blinds. These have been an absolute life saver for us time and time again particularly when we have travelled overseas in summer. Melatonin (the sleep hormone) is produced and released in the dark and the circadian rhythm is set by daylight so if you’re looking for that little holiday sleep in I cannot recommend taking black out blinds enough. The best I’ve come across are these and these these.
7. Replicate your bedtime routine as much as possible
Wherever possible try to replicate your bedtime routine as much as possible. If you can take familiar things from home to replicate the sleep environment such as white noise machine and night lights this will also help.
The final tip but arguably the most important…
8. Don't stress the sleep stuff.
This may sound easier said that done but honestly, just do whatever works whilst on holiday to make it the most enjoyable. If this means you do things you wouldn’t normally such as rock to sleep, nap on the go, sleep in late, skip naps or co-sleep try not to stress about it. Nothing is permanent and your version of sleep normality can and will return when you get back home and settle back in to your predictable and consistent environment.
So, go on and book that next holiday together and enjoy it!