Traveling with a Toddler — 9 must-read tips

As a mom and travel guide, I’ve traveled with a toddler enough times to have picked up some tips along the way on getting toddlers well rested while on a vacation. As our babies transition into these little walking, talking people we call toddlers, it’s easy to assume they don’t need that schedule or routine as much. But traveling with a miserable toddler will be enough to make you put future travel plans on the shelf until they are teenagers!

Fear not! Here are our top tips for getting your toddler the sleep they need while traveling:

  1. Getting sleep on the flight – Take the time to talk to your toddler about the flight well before you get on the plane and do it frequently. Talk to them about how the flight will go, such as “after take-off, we’ll have some dinner and play. After we’ve played for a bit, it will be time for sleep”. Make sure you give them enough time to explore around their seat, otherwise they’ll be much too distracted to sleep. If you aren’t using a car seat on the plane, then an inflatable airplane travel bed for toddlers will give the space they need to stretch out and get a good sleep.

  2. Combat jet lag – What’s worked best for us when it comes to jet lag is getting onto the local schedule as soon as we arrive, keeping a similar sleep schedule as you do at home and planning our days accordingly. For the first few days, plan on doing outdoor activities. This gets you out in the sunshine and keeps your toddler moving, which helps get over jet lag faster.
     
  3. Slow down – Vacations only come around a couple of times of the year, so it’s tempting to try to do as much as possible and in doing so, keep your toddler up late in the evenings and skip naps. We found that we were all miserable when we did this, and we all went home feeling tired and frustrated. Traveling with toddlers is the perfect time to slow down, experience your surroundings through your toddler’s eyes and even take naps together!

  4. Keep your toddler active – Again, it’s tempting to keep your toddler in a carrier or stroller while you sightsee, but it’s important for them to get playtime. Do a little research to find the best playgrounds around or let your toddler walk in the museum (assuming there’s nothing enticing for little hands to grab). Or even better, save a quiet stroll through the museums for naps on-the-go.

  5. Don’t skip too many naps – Toddlers can usually handle missing a nap or two, but too many skipped naps will lead to a very unhappy little one. The same goes for staying up later than usual. Mix it up while you travel, if you have them up late one night then get take-out dinner the next and put your toddler to bed early. If you skip a nap or do a few naps on-the-go, plan a day to return to the hotel room and have a good nap.

  6. Sleep environment – Some people get lucky and have kids that can literally fall asleep anywhere. Some of us don’t get that and have to work a little harder. If you are worried about your toddler sleeping in an unfamiliar environment, then pack a few things that will make it familiar. We packed our toddler’s sleep sack and a white-noise machine. If a dark room is what they are used to, then the Slumberpod is the perfect way to make that happen.

If you plan to move around a lot on your trip, bring along a toddler travel bed to help keep that familiar sleep environment at each place.

7. Bedtime routine – A bath and a story might be just what your toddler needs to wind down at the end of a fun day exploring. Keep those going even when you travel.

8. Try different lodgings – Staying in an Airbnb is a great way to give everyone some space. If your toddler is used to having her own room at home, renting an Airbnb apartment is a good way to replicate that when you travel. It also makes it easier to put your toddler to bed earlier without having to go to bed yourself!

9. Test all new travel gear – As I said, some kids will sleep anywhere and some will be more apprehensive about their new environment. Test everything out before your trip. If you have a new toddler travel bed and a Slumberpod, start by using it for a few nights sleep at home. It’s better to work through the struggles at home than on your trip!

Celine Brewer

, Baby Can Travel 

Baby Can Travel was created to inspire, encourage, and support families with babies and toddlers to continue traveling. Through our blog and travel guides, we aim to provide up-to-date advice on the best baby or toddlers travel gear, travel tips plus destination-specific information to help make every trip with little ones a success. 

We cover all aspects of traveling with a baby or toddler; from planning to flying with a baby or toddler, to making the most of every day while on the trip.


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