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  • Writer's pictureMary

Travel tips and tricks






When my first born was 3 months old, we took our first official “trip” as a family of three. We survived the trip but most importantly learned many things about traveling with an infant. I would say we did some things right and other things were a humbling learning experience. Since that first trip, we have gone on to take many trips with (what is now both) our kids, with each one being more enjoyable than the last! Here are some things I have learned and how to make traveling easier.


Prior to the Trip 

If your child is not sleeping well and you have time, ideally 2-3 weeks before traveling, sleep train your baby! If your baby is not sleeping well at home, chances are they are not going to sleep any better on the trip. If anything, they will likely sleep worse or they will sleep worse when you return home.

A week or two before your trip, make a list of everything you need throughout the day for your little one. For me it was easiest to make a list as I went through a typical day with my son. I encourage you to do this a week or two before your trip as it will help you identify if you need to purchase anything for your trip.


After you make your list, identify what is essential for travel. These are a few things I identify as “essential” when we travel in terms of sleep:

  • Pack n Play or something your child will sleep in 

  • Most Pack n Plays have a weight and height limit. Once your child reaches one of these you need to stop using the Pack n Play. Alternatives to the Pack n Play are the following travel cribs that your child can typically stay in until around three years of age:

  • Baby Bjorn Travel Crib - recommend discontinuing when your child is 35 inches in height. No weight limit.

  • Lotus Travel Crib 

  • Noise Machine (Non affiliated Link) - wired or wireless 

  • Sleep Sack

  • Lovey 

  • Room Thermometer* (Non affiliated link

* you don't necessarily need this if your monitor room temperature is accurate

*The Slumberpod is not to be used for babies under 4 months old 

  • Monitor 


Now you may be looking at that list and thinking you don’t have some of those things and don’t want to have to buy them all, or you simply don’t want to have to travel with them all - don’t panic! There are many companies that actually rent baby equipment for traveling families, such as BabyQuip. We have used BabyQuip ourselves and have had great experiences with them.


When thinking about what you might need for your trip in terms of your child(ren’s) sleep needs while on vacation, it is important to think about the space you’ll be staying in. Will you be staying in a hotel, a house with multiple rooms, a small beach condo, a tent? The space will help you determine what you need to create that ideal sleep environment while away from home. If your child will have their own room while away things might be easy to set up, but you may need to think about siblings and room sharing if that isn’t something that is done at home. For hotels with limited space, the Slumberpod can be your best option to create a separate sleep space for baby while giving some freedom to Mom and Dad. If staying in a hotel you may want to consider staying in a suite where there is a separate space (small living room area) for sleeping as it can be hard to have to “go to bed” at the same time as your kiddos - you are on vacation after all! Last but not least, don’t underestimate the power of a small closet or even a bathroom to set up your child’s sleep space for your vacation. We opt for this option a lot while traveling because it’s a separate space, it’s dark, and usually can be a quiet spot away from the hustle and bustle. 


A common question that is asked as families start to consider traveling with their child(ren) is should I have them practice sleeping in the travel crib and/or Slumberpod? That’s a great question and the answer is it’s really up to you and knowing your child. I will say personally, we never practiced either prior to our first trip and our son did fine. But, if you have a child who takes a longer time to adjust to change or a child who becomes upset or anxious with change, I do believe it can be a good idea to “practice” sleep in their travel set up prior to vacationing. I would recommend practicing during night time sleep only, when the sleep drive is highest (versus nap time). 



Routine is Key 

Humans are creatures of habit, right? So why would we think our little ones are any different? You may already know by now (if you’ve worked with me or follow me on social media) that routines are key for successful sleep. If you don’t have a routine in place for BOTH nap and bedtime, I strongly encourage you to start one 1-2 weeks prior to going on vacation. While you’re on vacation, plan to keep the same routines for nap and bedtime as you have at home. Note that this might mean adding a few things to your packing list, especially if there is a particular book you read prior to sleep. 


Do I need to plan my vacation around my child’s schedule? 

This is a loaded question. It all depends on what you want out of your vacation. I believe you can have some flexibility throughout your vacation, but if you are expecting your child to nap on the go for every nap or have longer than normal wake windows so you can do activities you will need to expect that sleep will be rough during your time away from home. For some people they don’t mind that, while others would rather stick pretty close to their at-home schedule for more predictable sleep. For naps, I would only recommend having one nap a day “on the go” ie) in a stroller, in the car, or on an airplane. Now while that sometimes is not avoidable you will need to make sure to compensate for on the go naps in other ways (i.e. an earlier bedtime). If you have a choice on which nap should be “on the go” it will usually be your later in the day naps, so nap two if you're on a two nap day or nap three if you're on a three nap day. For naps that are on the go, aim for at least a 30-45 minute nap. Babies' sleep cycles are anywhere from 20-50 minutes in length so if your child naps for that 30-45 minute mark consider it an “okay” nap. Anything less than that may result in some overtiredness before the next nap or bedtime. 


What to do about time changes on vacation

Unless you are traveling for more than a month I don’t generally recommend adjusting for the time change prior to traveling. It will typically be easiest and less disruptive to your child if you can keep them on the same schedule they are on at home. For example, if your child wakes at 7:00 am EST at home and you’re traveling to a vacation destination in central time, you would simply wake the child up at 6:00 am CST and base the rest of your day off of that. This will allow naps and bedtime to align with your home schedule. However, if you are traveling East to West and your destination is two hours or more behind your home schedule, it may be beneficial to add a nap. This will help your child’s bedtime fall at a more reasonable hour at your destination vs. 5:00 pm when you might be heading off to dinner. 


What to do when you get home

In the event you need to use some temporary sleep crutches or schedule changes during your trip, it is important to go back to your normal sleep routine and schedule immediately when you get back home. You may also need to expect a minor sleep regression if you created some non-independent sleep habits or extreme changes in schedule while you are away. If you find things are not getting back to normal within a week of getting home it might be time to go back to your original sleep training method or reach out for help! 


I hope these tips help make traveling easy and enjoyable! 


Mary 






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