As a parent, you doubtlessly already have faced your share of nighttime battles.
But none can be quite as ugly as those that occur over vacation—when, theoretically, everyone is supposed to be relaxed and well rested. Tell that to my friend, Jamie, who spent her ten-year anniversary holed up with her husband on the floor of a hotel bathroom, while desperately trying to give their toddler quiet time to fall asleep.
Unfortunately, there are no foolproof methods for ensuring that everyone gets a good night’s sleep while traveling. New environments filled with new stimuli, foods, and activities throw young children—who thrive on routines—into a tailspin.
But give these ideas a go:
Get Babies to Sleep on Vacation
- While on the road, try to keep your schedule as close to consistent with your home routine as you can—naps, bath time, and tuck-in routines can all be slightly modified to accommodate your new surroundings, but try to retain as many elements from home as you can so your child feels secure. For example, if your child has a favorite blanket, stuffed animal, or book from home, be sure to bring that along with you.
- If you can afford it, look for hotels that offer separate rooms within a suite. Some hotels, such as Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites, Candlewood Suites, and Residence Inn, offer these rooms standard. It can be a difficult proposition for children who have their own rooms at home to get to sleep while sharing a space with parents (who might not be willing to turn in at their children’s usual early bedtime), so separate rooms can go a long way.
- If your child responds well to white noise, turn on the hotel’s bathroom fan, or download a white-noise app for your phone.
- Time changes can be particularly disruptive for kids’ sleep schedules. Consider the possibility of staying on your old time from home—especially if you’re dealing with only a couple of hours’ difference, and if your vacation isn’t very long. Otherwise, you might try easing kids into the time change by gradually making a change of one hour (or half-hour) each day.
- Wear those babies out. You know your child best and will probably have your strategies planned. For many children, having lots of time to run around and get rid of energy (plus a full tummy) is a great formula for a good night’s sleep. Hotels have plenty of options for accommodating those wonderful pint-sized vessels of energy. Think about a swim in the pool, laps around the hotel lobby—even a walk on the exercise room’s treadmill. A baby who is in a stroller or sling might benefit from a little cool night air via a walk around the hotel block. While on a camping trip, I have been known to engage in the very un-outdoorsy practice of driving my son up and down the road until he conked out in his car seat. It’s called Sleep By Any Means Necessary.
Cynthia J. Drake is the author of the forthcoming book, Budget Travel for the Genius which comes out in January and is available for preorder. Follow her Facebook page, Budget Travel Genius.