Many people have fond memories of taking trips during their childhood. Whether you’re planning a trip a few hundred miles away or a few thousand miles away, it’s important to keep your child or children on their usual sleep routine. Leaving the comforts of their own bedroom can cause stress and interrupt sleep routines. Here are some tips on how to keep a consistent sleep routine for different age groups of children while you travel.
If you’re planning a road trip with a baby, try to time your departure for their usual nap time. About 30 minutes before leaving home, feed the baby and change their diaper. Plan a pit stop about two hours into your road trip for the next diaper change and feeding time. You’ll also benefit from some time to stretch your legs and use a restroom. It’s a good idea to wait until your baby is at least six months old for a flight longer than two or three hours.
Toddlers thrive on routine. When something upsets the routine, they get hyper and may act out. Before leaving, let your toddler run and play for a while. Getting their energy out before a trip will help them stay calm. Try leaving at your toddler’s nap time.
If you’re flying with a toddler, be sure to bring their security item, such as a blanket or favorite stuffed animal. Bring a variety of quiet things for your child to do, including their own headphones so their videos or music don’t disturb other passengers. At your destination, stick with usual bedtime routines. Bring your child’s favorite pajamas.
It’s also wise to allow a preschooler to play for at least 30 minutes before departing on a trip. If you’re flying, let your child walk through the airport. Find a spot where your toddler can do some stretches, hopping or other fun exercises before getting on the plane. Make sure that your child uses the toilet before getting onto a plane or into a car for a long ride. A snack before leaving home or before getting on a plane is also a good idea. Many preschoolers no longer nap, but consider bringing a blanket and pillow for a longer car trip or flight. Consider using a night light, or show your child where you’ll be sleeping in case they need you overnight.
School age children need at least three hours of physical activity every day. When planning a trip with school-age kids, account for this. You might pick a few road stops that include a park or playground. For a flight, kids can walk through the airport before getting on the plane.
Try to schedule a flight for mid-morning so that kids don’t have to wake up too early. You should arrive at your destination with enough time for your child to have more time for physical activity.
Make sure that kids have enough time to wind down before going to bed. Too much activity too close to bedtime can make kids want to stay up later. When possible, stick with the same bedtime when traveling. If you’re crossing time zones, adapting your meals to the local time will help with getting kids to sleep.