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Sleep Tips For Traveling

father and son looking at airplanes
Photo: iStockphoto/Alena Yakusheva

As I prepare to head out west to Portland with my family tomorrow, I am reminded about the impact to their normal sleep routines this could have. Given there is both a time change and change in sleeping arrangements (my children will be sharing a bedroom which they don’t normally do), I have been strategizing a plan to keep them well rested. I thought I would share some of my ideas with you since so many of you are also hitting the road this summer.

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  1. We have a special sleep bag that we pack whenever we go on a trip. I ask my daughters to get the things they need to sleep well at our destination and off they go to get the lion pillow, “Yeow” the stuffed cat, and “Snuggle Bunny.” In addition to these lovies, we will also pack the crib sheet my youngest daughter has been sleeping on (unwashed = familiar smell from home) and a sound machine to help mask the unfamiliar sounds that come with a new environment.  My older daughter uses the Good Nite Lite to help her to know when it’s her wake up time.  This will come in really handy with the time change.
  2. Once we arrive at our destination in Portland, I will make a point to take my daughters to the room where they will be sleeping to let them get acquainted and to help get the room set up and comfortable for sleep.  I think this quick little exercise makes it much easier for them to separate when we return later for naps/bedtime because the room won’t feel quite so new and foreign.
  3. I also build in an extra 10-15 minutes into the bedtime routine for extra snuggles and the inevitable calls for check-ins as they let go in a new place and drift off to sleep.

Above all, try to keep your child’s bedtime routine as much the same as it is at home so they know what to expect.

About Janeen Hayward, Sleep Guru

Janeen founded swellbeing, a parenting consultancy based in NYC - shortly after the birth of her first daughter in 2006. As a child development expert with a master's degree in clinical psychology, she helps parents nurture healthy and happy children.

Let's Hear It!

Are there other things that you do to help prepare/keep your kids on track when you travel? I'd love to hear them!

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