Going on vacation is a wonderful opportunity to create family memories. While there’s a lot of joy on a summer vacation, it can also be stressful figuring out logistics. Especially with children and young toddlers, getting out of a set routine can present a lot of challenges. Traveling as a family requires a lot of planning and preparation, but it can still be fun and become a memory you will all cherish.
In this blog, we’ll answer the tricky questions about what will keep any parent up at night: toddler sleep. It’s hard to keep a routine and structure in place, but it’s possible to have a plan and setup that works for everyone. So, we’ll cover what to consider when planning travel logistics, where your child can sleep, and tips on getting your toddler to actually sleep at night while you’re away from home and their normal bed.
Let’s get to it!
Table of contents
Factors that will influence where your toddler sleeps
There are a lot of factors that will influence how you make sleeping decisions for your toddler. Are you driving or flying? Are you staying in a hotel, Air BnB, at a friend’s or family member’s house? These are all important pieces of how you’ll pack for the trip. If you’re flying on a plane, you’ll want to bring something that’s economical and easily portable. (If you want tips on how to make the flight with a toddler, we wrote a blog on that here.) If you’re driving, you have more flexibility to bring something that takes up more room.
Where you stay once you reach your destination matters because it helps you plan according to the space. If you’re in a hotel room, you’ll want to make the most of the room you have. Something smaller or collapsible could be beneficial when it comes to maximizing space. If you have more room in a rental or at a family member’s house, you have extra options of what you can bring for your baby to sleep in.
Once you’ve taken into account how you’re traveling and where you’re staying, you have a better idea of what will work best at your vacation spot.
Where your child can sleep
There are thankfully a lot of options when it comes to choosing what your kid can sleep in while on vacation. Here’s a list of places your toddler can sleep on vacation:
- If you really want to conserve space, bed-sharing can be an alternative to packing something else. If your child is used to this at home already, it may not feel much different from their usual routine. However, the drawbacks of this could look like you not getting as much sleep if your child is squirmy. It also may not be the safest solution, especially for younger children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not bed-sharing with children for at least the first six months.
- A great solution for where a toddler can sleep on vacation is a pack-and-play or playpen. This is especially a great option because it travels well, could be something your child is already comfortable using, and takes up less space than a crib.
- If you’re at a hotel, most should have a crib available to use. If you’re looking for ways to travel light and know where you’re staying will have one, this option could be the answer to your question of where they should sleep. However, the drawback of this is that just like renting anything else, like a car seat, you don’t always know if it’s up to the latest safety standards. And it could take up more space, making your hotel room feel more cramped.
- Some hotel rooms come with a sofa bed. If you think your child would respond well and is at an age where this could work, it’s another option to consider that doesn’t take up extra space in the room or in your luggage.
- You could also utilize an inflatable toddler bed that stays on the floor. It doesn’t take up much space, and there are a lot of product options out there for travel-oriented toddler mattresses that are easy to use.
What you choose is up to you. But it’s important to know there are a lot of reasonable options out there for you to use. When you’re making your decision, remember to keep in mind how you’re traveling, where you’re staying, and also what you think your child’s preferences would be. You want them to feel comfortable while they’re away from home.
Tips on getting children to sleep on vacation
Getting off of a routine can lead to chaos during vacation. Kids still need structure, and it’s possible to continue with a simple bedtime routine that clues them in when it’s time to go to bed. It may be more difficult to get them to give up their play, but it’s worth it to keep them not sleeping well and being grumpy during the day later on.
A simple bedtime routine can be kept up with on vacation. This can look like brushing their teeth, reading a book, then being tucked into bed. It doesn’t have to be crazy and it keeps the structure they may be used to at home so they’ll find it easier to wind down and go to sleep.
Bring things that give them comfort. Do they have a favorite pillow? Are there stuffed animals they love and don’t want to go to bed without? Having items that make them feel safe, especially in a new and unfamiliar environment, can help them feel more at ease when they go to close their eyes for the night.
And don’t let them stay up late. It might be tempting because vacation is where normal rules can slide a little bit, but this can throw off their entire schedule when they get home, and lead to some issues during the time off as well. Their exhaustion could cause more tantrums and bad behavior compared to a more rested version of themselves. As the adult, it’s important you go into the family time with clear expectations and guidelines for those nighttime decisions.
There are a lot of options for where your toddler can sleep while on vacation. Do your research, consider how you’re traveling and where you’re staying, and make the decision that makes you and your toddler most comfortable. It doesn’t have to be stressful, it can be a happy and wonderful experience you get to enjoy with the people you love most.