Avoid Tired, Cranky Kids While on Vacation

Are we there yet?

How Much Longer?

She won’t stop kicking my seat!

And that’s just the car ride!

It’s Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy… This may be true if you’re on vacation, lying in the sun with your feet in the pool, but it may not be quite as accurate if you’re planning to travel with young kids. Many a vacation has been marred by babies crying, toddlers missing naps and preschoolers having tantrums, leading to a grumpy mom and dad. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Joleen Dilk Salyn, Certified Child Sleep Consultant and Founder of Baby Sleep 101, offers five important guidelines to help families best enjoy vacation.

1. Plan Ahead

If you’re going to be staying in a hotel on your vacation, call them ahead of time to see if you can book a room located in a quiet section of the building. Generally, rooms close to the pool, restaurant, stairs or elevator have more foot traffic and are nosier. This can be quite frustrating when you’re trying to get your child to go to sleep.

2. Have a Well-Rested Child Before You Leave

It’s important to have your child on a good routine before you even set out on your travels. This means an established nap routine, a consistent and familiar wind down and an age appropriate bedtime. If your child is well rested and caught up on their sleep before you go, then they will be more likely to fall asleep quicker in a new environment, able to deal with any missed sleep better and be just a happier travel companion overall. Win-win!

3. Practice Makes Perfect

If your child will be sleeping in a Pack and Play while you’re on the road, then it’s wise to do some trial runs with it at home. Sometimes children have a hard time settling down in a new bed, so it’s best to let them get used to it, in the comfort and security of their room. You can try one nap a day to see how they respond and troubleshoot accordingly.

4. Recreate the Sleep Environment

Take everything you can to help replicate your child’s regular sleep environment in the hotel. This may include white noise, dark sheets to imitate their blackout blinds, loveys or special blankets. They say that our sense of smell is the most powerful sense, so you may even want to take the same sheets from their bed without washing them. The familiar scents can help to relax your child when they are trying to fall asleep in a new location.

5. Stick to a Regular Routine

Maintain the same nap and bed times while on the road that you have at home. It’s important to still enjoy your trip, so allow for some flexibility, but overall, children will be better travel companions with a consistent routine because they won’t be overtired and cranky.

Generally car naps are not recommended as part of a healthy sleep routine, but it’s better for your child to take a nap in the car, than to miss the nap entirely while on vacation. Try to time it around when your child regularly takes their nap and remember to leave a little earlier to compensate for falling asleep time.

If you have a tot that doesn’t like to sleep in the car, then try to be at your destination in time for their next nap. The morning nap is the most restorative, so make that one the priority.

Once you are back from your trip, get right back into your old routine. Expect that your child’s sleep will be a little disturbed for about a week, but with time, consistency and early bedtimes, things will be back to normal quickly.

What tips or tricks can you share about making travel easier this summer?

About Joleen
Joleen is an independent certified Baby and Child Sleep Consultant, and founder of Baby Sleep 101. She received her extensive training from the Family Sleep Institute. She is also a member of the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants. Joleen is a mother of two wonderful children; ages 2 yrs and 7 months. Visit for more information.

One thought on “Avoid Tired, Cranky Kids While on Vacation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *