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Top 5 Summer Travel Sleep Tips

Summer travel season is here! When you’ve worked hard to set up healthy sleep habits at home, traveling and moving away from your little one’s routine and sleep space can seem scary. Summer travel doesn't have to be stressful! Keep reading for the top 5 summer travel sleep tips to maintain your healthy sleep foundation.

Please note that I earn a small commision from the products below. They truly are my favorite and what I've used with my family!

Start with a well rested baby or child

Home life can get hectic before a trip- the anticipation, the extra errands, the never ending packing! As much as possible, maintain your regular routines leading up to your travels. A well rested baby is more likely to sleep well. An overtired baby or child will have a more difficult time napping on the go or once you get to your destination. Don’t skip on naps in hopes your little one will sleep easier- it will backfire!

When possible, be mindful of your little one’s naps and sleep while booking travel. Trying to be in the air or in the car when they typically nap may mean they can rest a bit. Keep in mind that motion nap isn’t as restorative as a crib nap- but it will help them get to bedtime and help the trip go smoother. Compensate with an earlier bedtime when you arrive at your destination if needed to make up for less than ideal sleep while traveling.

Be mindful of the sleep space

Before you get to your destination, think about what you may need to set up the sleep environment for sleep, and to make your little one feel familiar in a new space. If your little one is used to sleeping in their own room, is there a way to make that happen while traveling? If there are no extra rooms, a walk in closet or bathroom (with good circulation) works well too!

Portable black out shades or even garbage bags and aluminum foil can work to black out the room. Bring your sound machine and anything that will make your little one feel at home and block out distractions. Don’t forget familiar sheets, loveys, sleep sacks, pacifiers and favorite books!

My favorite sleep travel item is the SlumberPod. It provides instant black out conditions, the feeling of a separate sleep space, and works great if you all have to share a room. With the SlumberPod, there’s no need to cover up the windows, and the grown ups can keep the lights on after bedtime. Works best over a pack n play and many toddler beds.

You may want to try out the SlumberPod at home for a few days before your trip. This can be especially important if your vacation is only a few days long. If your little one takes a few days to adjust to the SlumberPod, your trip will be over before you know it! Getting used to it at home may make for a smoother transition.

Maintain your bedtime routine

Bedtime routines are a signal to your little one that sleep is coming. To start, spend some playtime in the new room before bedtime to acclimate them to the space. Try to maintain similar bedtime routines as you do at home. While in a new place, these consistent routines will feel familiar and allow your little one to relax before sleep. Bring favorite books and try for consistent routines- it may be a different place, but the familiarity and your actions will help them feel like home.

Try for one restorative nap a day

If your little one is taking more than one nap, try to start their day with a solid nap in their crib before continuing with the activities of the day. This may allow them to have more flexibility with the rest of the day if naps happen on the go.

If your little one is taking just one nap and it’s missed or is not as restorative, remember that early bedtimes can help prevent the build up of sleep debt (which can lead to night wakes, early rising and cranky children). Early bedtimes may not be ideal while on vacation but neither is an overtired child!

Tune in to your little one’s sleep cues and adjust as needed. Remember that difficulty settling for bedtime (which can look like hyperactivity in toddlers and being inconsolable for younger babies) may be a sign that they are overtired.

Be flexible!

Things will be different while traveling! Keep an eye on your little one and another on your activities and fun planned. You may need to adjust your plans if your little one needs a break, and they may also surprise you!

You know YOUR child. Some little ones can roll with changes-- and others are more sensitive to changes in routines. Keep their needs in mind while trying to balance vacation fun. Lean into the memories and know that you can get back on track when you get home.

The bottom line

Traveling with kids may not be as carefree as vacations without them. You could also argue that the memories will be that much sweeter!

With some thoughtful planning about the sleep space and timing of activities, your little one can continue their healthy sleep habits while away from home. Remember to adjust your expectations– activities may need to be adjusted and sleep may need to be more flexible than usual. It’s all ok! Go with what works for your family and take a few days when you get home to settle back into your daily routines.

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