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  • Writer's pictureMary Cantwell

My Top 4 Travel Tips For Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers

Updated: Jan 10

Do you have your child on a nice and consistent sleep schedule and semi freaked out that taking your upcoming vacation is going to throw that out the window? Feel confident that a child that is well rested going into a vacation has their sleep tank full which helps with the unpredictability that comes with traveling.

When traveling (aka taking the show on the road) we want to be intentional on what to bring and tools to help with sleep, navigating the unknown, time zone differences and being able to be off schedule without rocking the foundation that has been laid. Keep reading for more on my best travel tips for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

1) Travel Must Haves:

We want to bring familiar items for our children in an unfamiliar place and tools that will enhance the new sleep environment. What we bring for an infant will look slightly different than a toddler/preschooler so let’s look at the recommendations of what to pack.

travel must haves for infants and toddlers

2) Plan for Travel Day

If you are traveling by car, try to plan the drive around nap times or close enough so that they can get a snack in or feed in before driving, be intrigued by the new sights around them and then fall sleep. It breaks up the monotony of the drive and can help make the drive more enjoyable for all!

If you are traveling by plane, expect travel delays and that naps that day may be shorter or off schedule. Over the many years of guiding parents through this and traveling with my own littles, do what you can to get them to snooze on the plane ride, bring lots of snacks, bottles, pacifiers, diapers/wipes, extra clothes, and a new toy to keep them occupied during the flight or a possible delay.

3) Where to Sleep:

A dark sleep space is key for quality sleep at home and on the road. Darkness helps in regulating our Melatonin (sleep hormone) and we want to take this concept on the road.

If you are staying in a hotel or family/friends house, you will want to find an area that will be the child’s sleep space. You can utilize a ventilated bathroom, a ventilated closet or use a SlumberPod (use code RESTTOYOURNEST for 5% off) in the room to create the optimal environment for sleep.

If you are staying in a rental home, the best option is if they have their own room. An alternative is to again use a ventilated closet or bathroom that they can sleep in or use the SlumberPod (use RESTTOYOURNEST for 5% off) in a shared room. Most rental homes don’t have blackout curtains and if you aren’t taking the SlumberPod then bring travel blackout shades or black lawn trash bags with painters’ tape to adhere to the windows.

4) How to manage when things don’t go as planned:

I recommend applying either the 70/30 or 80/20 rule to sleep schedules which is where we deviate from our sleep schedules 20 to 30% of the time. For example, if stroller naps happen out and about at Disney World then we are mindful of protecting overnight sleep with an earlier bedtime due to loss of day sleep.

If your child typically sleeps through the night and on vacation they have a night wake, go ahead and offer additional comfort but be mindful that they fall asleep independently after we provide the affirmation and comfort. The reason being is to not create a new pattern that is not sustainable once we get home.

Time Change with Kids

Time change is one that we must address when we travel. Typically travel with our littles tends to be on the shorter side (like a long weekend) and I would recommend keeping your child's on their normal time zone. If that is not possible, then let’s chat through different scenarios.

If you are traveling West Coast to East Coast, I recommend staying on your time zone because it works in your favor. For example, if your child’s normal bedtime is 7:00pm then their bedtime on the East Coast would be 8:00pm which gives more flexibility.

If you are traveling East Coast to West Coast and going longer than 2 to 3 days, go ahead and half the amount of time difference. For example, if you have a 2-hour time difference, move the sleep schedule 1 hour in that direction the first day and on the second day move the additional hour to move to the time zone you are visiting.

Traveling with kids creates lovely memories and having a game plan for travel as well as being mindful on how to manage sleep through it will make the trip feel more like a vacation. If you are still struggling with your child’s sleep at home or want to chat through strategies on sleep on vacation, set up a Discovery Call. Enjoy your trip!

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