I love traveling and visiting new places but once I had kids, things changed. Traveling with toddlers or just young kids for that matter can be quite the ordeal where sleepless nights can almost be guranteed.
My kids are awesome sleepers at home (for more info on how we do it, click here), but most of that is due to the fact that they each have their own dark room, white noise and separate beds. When traveling though, having their own space is usually not easy to come by. And all sleeping in one hotel room has NEVER worked for us.
After traveling with my kids for the past 3+ years, here are my tips and tricks to survive the nights when traveling with toddlers:
If possible, try to get a separate room for each child.
If your kids have their own room at home an thats all they know, trying to all sleep in the same room can be almost impossible. If you’re staying with family, see if there are multiple places you can use as a bedroom like an office, closet, or even pantry. If staying in a hotel, you can try to position the furniture to bock off a pack ‘n play or toddler bed.
Look for places with large bathrooms and/or closets.
When looking into hotels, ask if they have large bathrooms where a travel pack n’ play could fit or if there is a closet large enough that you could put a toddler cot or air bed. While making a child sleep in the bathroom or closet may seem mean, it’s like a mini bedroom which allows for some separation from noise and movement.
Consider bringing your own travel beds and not relying on what the hotel has available.
While most hotels will have travel cribs or pack n’ plays to use, I have found that they can be in bad shape or different than what your little one may be used to sleeping in. If your toddler is still sleeping in a crib (my son was in a crib until 3 years old), my absolute favorite travel crib I’ve found for bigger and taller toddlers is the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light. It is about 2 inches longer than the standard pack n’ play and has a much softer and more comfortable sleep mat. It is also super light and can be put together in about 30 seconds (win win!).
If you’re traveling with a toddler that has recently transitioned to a toddler or twin bed, it may be a bit tricky to put them in a twin bed with no side protection. We recently used this toddler air mattress and it has worked perfectly for our 3 year old. It’s the perfect size to put next to your bed or to put in a closet and since it’s low to the ground, if your child somehow rolls off, it is only a few inches off the ground instead of a fall from a twin bed. It’s super inexpensive and awesome travel item to have just in case!
Look into AirB&B or hotels with ‘family suites’.
Air B&B is an awesome option when traveling with your family. Not only will you have a kitchen and more living space but you’ll have multiple bedrooms so everyone can sleep more comfortably.
When a hotel is our only option, the Marriott Residence Inn is our favorite pick. We stay in the 2 bedroom suite so the baby could be in the bathroom and our older one could be in the 2nd bedroom. It’s obviously a little pricier than a normal hotel room but sleep is worth it!
Make the sleep environment & bedtime routine as similar to home as possible.
If your little ones sleeps in the dark, make sure to bring sheets to cover up windows. If they need certain stuffed animals or other comfort items, bring them! If your kids use a sound machine at night, make sure to bring it so they can have the same background noise they have at home. When we travel we bring all of these items!
Most kids have some type of sleep routine before bed. If you read books, sing songs, or watch a show try to go through the same routine before bed to keep things as close to home as possible.
Tire your kids out during the day so they are really ready for bed.
Babies and young toddlers generally cannot go all day without a nap. There is a delicate balance between tiring out kids and making them way too tired and fatigued that they can’t calm down for sleep. Only you know what your little one needs, but maybe just giving them a at nap during the day or limiting their nap time a bit can help them sleep better at night.
Bring black sheets and tacks with you.
One of our secret weapons when traveling is putting up black sheets over the windows to create a nice and dark sleeping space. I’m a huge believer in kids sleeping in all dark! You can also use sheets to try to divide a room and create a barrier so your little one can’t see you moving around the room. Bring duct tape and tacks so you can create what you need to in a pinch.
Other Tips When Traveling With Babies or Toddlers:
* Be flexible! I am a huge schedule keeper but on vacation being flexible and going with the flow goes a long way.
* If your little ones aren’t sleeping well in their own beds, as a last resort consider letting them sleep in bed with you. I am NOT a co-sleeper and never have been, but while traveling, sometime the rules need to be bent and allowing your kids to sleep in bed with you may just be the only answer to everyone getting some sleep. Just make sure to go back to your normal sleeping habits once you get home.
* The first night away from home is usually the toughest, so once you make it through that first night, hopefully you can look forward to a bit more sleep in the nights to come.
Do you have any other tips or ideas that have worked for you? Share below and I’d be happy to include it in this post and give you credit!