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5 Tips for Holiday Travel With Kids (Without Screwing Up Sleep)

Is your family up for a jovial holiday dinner or a future beach vacation with the kids? Here are my top 5 tips for holiday travel with kids, to focus on survival and enjoyment (without screwing up sleep). baby sleep tips | how to get your baby to sleep | newborn sleep | toddler sleep tips | toddler tips | parenting #sleepbabylove #sleeptips #sleep #parenting #newmom #babysleep #newborn #toddler

The holidays are here! For some it means hunkering down in your cozy home but for many others it means spending time traveling. Maybe a jovial holiday dinner is in the future or a beach vacation with the kids?  Regardless, here are 5 tips for holiday travel with kids, to focus on survival and enjoyment (without screwing up sleep).

1) Travel Outside of Sleep Times:

If your child is sensitive to sleep, try to travel outside of naps or bedtimes.  Trust me, you will thank me.  I’ve been with a screamer on a night plane ride thinking it would be easy to have her fall asleep since it was “bedtime” (I learned the hard way so you don’t have to).  A plane, car or any other form of transportation can be super stimulating with the extra light and hustle and bustle making it super hard to fall asleep for some.  As a general rule, try and travel either first thing in the morning or after your child’s first nap.  I know that this is not a perfect answer for some, but you just do the best you can.  Oh and if you aren’t sure how your child will act on a plane ride, you can always distribute candy like this mom.  Candy makes everything better.

2) Research your sleep environment:

Even if it’s just to grandmother’s house you go, always plan ahead and think about your sleeping arrangements before you go.  If you are going to a nice hotel chances are that the room  has blackout curtains and a pack n’ play or portable crib available.  But, better be safe than sorry and double check.  If you have to, you can always reserve one or bring one from home. Also, it’s a good idea to stick garbage bags and painters tape in your luggage in case you need to make your child’s room darker.   Also, think about where your children are sleeping.  Are you all in one room? Are you in a suite?  Can your baby sleep in a large closet or bathroom to have a designated space?  Whenever possible find a dedicated spot to make things a little easier for all of you at night.

In case you have a toddler that really protests the pack n play on vacation (and is older than 2 year old).  I would suggest trying a tent for sleep!  It worked like a charm for my last vacation.  Check it out here.

If your toddler doesn't want to sleep in a pack n play on vacation, try this unique idea! (suggested for older than 2 with no plans to convert to a bed). Click here to learn more!

3) Don’t forget your essentials:  

Make a checklist in advance of items to bring for travel.  Yes, include the staples like toiletries and sunscreen but also include those items that are important for sleep.  Don’t forget your video monitor, child’s special blanket, sleepsack or favorite stuffed animal to keep your child’s sleep environment as close to home as possible.  You can download a white noise app on your phone rather than bringing your machine.  Take an expensive lesson from me and make sure that all of the items that you bring make it safely home.  (In case you ever find a video monitor in Arizona, it’s mine!

Outside of sleep items, make sure that you bring the essentials to make travel a cinch.

4) Maintain Consistency:  

Traveling is exhausting and you will want to give your child every benefit to take a nap or get downtime throughout the day.  Stacey Soffa, a mom of two girls, 4 and 1.5 years old, just got back from Walt Disney World which she describes as an “amazing trip”.  The key was that each day she left the park to go back to her hotel  to have her girls nap at their normal time.  Once the girls were up, they were able to have a great afternoon/evening back at the park before bedtime.  Stacey has always prioritized sleep and that has worked best for her and her girls.

5) Make Some Memories:  

Making memories is my mantra and I’ll let you use it as your too.  The holidays are a perfect time to put that saying in motion.  Regardless if you have a tantruming toddler or a fussy baby, make sure you enjoy every minute of the holiday season. Focus on the positive and hopefully you will forget the negative over time.  If you decide to travel, make sure you enjoy it!  You can always get back on track when you get home.


Who’s ready to travel for the holidays?  Now that you’ve learned some tips for holiday travel with kids, you should be prepared for what’s ahead.  More importantly have the most amazing time and go…make some memories?

Susie Parker is founder of Sleep Baby Love and a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant through the Family Sleep Institute. When Susie's not ridding the world of sleepless families, she loves spending time with her two girls that have given her a ton of real world sleep experience head on.

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