Holiday Travel Tips

Holiday Travel Tips

Holidays can be an exciting time of year as you gather with friends and family to share in your special holiday traditions.  For many of us, this brings on the complications of traveling with children.  Travel, any time of the year, causes disruptions with your child’s sleep.  Instead of worrying about the disruptions or canceling that much needed trip, here are a few sleep tips while on the road.

1.  Plan your travel times around sleep as much as possible.  Traveling is exciting for children, causing a lot of excitement or anxiety, which is why we want to plan travel times around naps and bedtime.

•If your child is still taking a morning nap, plan to travel after he/she wakes from that nap.  The first nap of the day is the most restorative and sets the tone for the rest of the day.

•If your child takes one nap, either travel in the morning, trying to reach your destination before nap time.  Or, when traveling by car, make sure the child sleeps in the car during his/her nap time.

•Most important, and if possible, reach your destination before bedtime.  Maintaining their appropriate bedtime will be a huge help.

2.  Time zone change.  When traveling across times zones and you are only going to be gone for a few days, it could be best to keep your child’s schedule on your home time zone.  This would include meal and sleep times.  If you will be gone longer or the time change is too great, then know it will take a few days to adjust to the new time.  Once you arrive, move your schedule to the new time zone as soon as possible.  Get your child outside early in the morning to help reset their clocks.  Note: Jet lag can be worse when traveling east than west.

3.  Recreate your home sleeping environment.  Now is not the time to pack light.  Bring your white noise machine, night light, bedtime stories, etc.  Do not forget your child’s lovey or blanket.  If you are flying, I suggest carrying on their lovey/blanket to ensure you’ll have it for bedtime.  Bring your own crib sheet and/or blankets from home.  Having a familiar smell can be comforting and relaxing to a child when traveling.   Also, bring along your “tricks” in making your child’s sleeping room as dark as possible.  This could be tinfoil and painters tape, black garbage bags, extra sheets for the window or anything that gets their room dark enough for good sleep to happen.

4.  Plan ahead.  Make sure you have a good place for your child to sleep at your destination.  If you are not taking your own crib/pack ‘n play, be sure to check with family or friends to see if one is available.  If staying in a hotel, check about their crib/pack ‘n play availability and be sure to reserve one if you are not taking your own.  Holidays are a busy time of year, so plan ahead to make sure you have a safe sleeping arrangement for your child.

5.  Home Base.  There can be many homes to visit when traveling for the holidays and constantly changing your child’s sleeping arrangement can be very disruptive.  Choose one home to make home base and have as many sleeping periods as possible happen there.  You want to give your child the chance to get familiar and comfortable with their temporary sleeping environment, which will help them sleep better for the duration of your vacation.

6.  Routines.  Continue with your normal nap and bedtime routine as much as possible.  The more routine and structure you keep around your child’s nap time and bedtime, the more adaptable they are.  We all know how unbelievably difficult this can be, but, do your best.  The more rested your child is, the more flexible, happy, and enjoyable they will be.  A few things to keep in mind:

•If your child is under 3, they need to nap.  The first nap of the day is the most important, so try for it to be in their current sleeping arrangement.  If this isn’t possible, just make sure they nap.  A nap in a car or stroller is better than no nap.

•If your child is over 3 years old, they may be able to skip their nap for a few days. Once you return home, a brief nap training will need to happen, as they continue to need their daily nap.

7.  Relax and have fun!  Traveling, vacation and the holidays are supposed to be fun and enjoyable.  Now is the time to relax and break a few rules!  If they miss a few naps or go to bed a little late, they’ll be fine.  Kids are surprisingly resilient.  Have fun and make memories, and worry about the strict sleep rules when you get home.

If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me, at  Just remember…when you return home it is essential that you return to your regular routine.  The first few days will be tough, but, it is important that you leave the vacation habits on vacation!

Valerie Birch

Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant at Amazing Little Sleeper
Valerie Birch is a Pediatric Sleep Expert for exhausted families who have tried evvvvverything to get their child to sleep.

Through her informative and supportive blog posts and one-on-one help, she’s here to guide your child into restorative naps and peaceful nights - while making you wonder why you didn’t contact her sooner.

When she’s not consulting?You’ll find her hanging with her 2 children, getting her sweat on at the gym or baking and indulging in warm ooey-googey chocolate-chip cookies….hobbies that balance each other out!

Meet Valerie + prepare yourself for Amazing Sleep ahead…
Valerie Birch

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