Let’s talk about travel babyyyy, let’s talk about you and me – let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be, let’s talk about TRAVEL!
Travel – the most scary T word when it comes to doing it with kids. I remember feeling so anxious before our first trip with Drake. Would I survive? I knew he’d be fine, but WOULD I BE FINE?
My sister was attending a school down in St. George, Utah while I had given birth to Drake. We had planned to do a long road trip down south to see her in July/August, but I felt compelled to see her with the baby sooner. (I mean, he was over 9lbs at birth – she needed to see Drake as small as possible lol). My mom and I booked a quick 6 day trip for June – Drake would have been 2 months old.
“Perfect!” I thought.
…..until the week before came and I started packing.
I packed my largest suitcase and it was busting at the zipper. 10,000 diapers, 20,000 wipes, 47 outfit changes, 10 bathing suits, a bassinet, sleep sack, noise machine, cream, shampoo, my change table (basically) – all for Drake. For me, a couple outfits and some underwear.
The trip ended up going very smooth. I felt anxious the whole time though – which I feel is a normality among new mothers.
Every noise he made in the night made me flinch – not because I wasn’t used to him, because I was trying to be conscious about him not disturbing my mom and sister (which I didn’t realize wasn’t actually a bother at all). I felt overwhelmed with the difference in routine and nap length not being predictable.
What I’ve learned is: JUST GO WITH IT. Travel. Skip the nap. Make the memories. Stay up late. Eat the food. But also – respect your baby.
What do I mean by respect your baby?
I mean – respect your child’s sleep needs. For newborns it is so easy to have them nap on the go. I’d brought Drake to over 10 movies in theatre by the time he was 2 months old. I would let him cuddle into my chest and I would sit so still with a blanket over him, trying to avoid the judgemental stares from others in the theatre (sorry). Clearly not a great idea because both arms were busy and I couldn’t eat my popcorn…but priorities.
For a baby who is over 3 months, they start having more “awake” time and they really start liking having a schedule. Schedules are nice because they’re predictable. If your child knows you have a bath every night, then once bath time rolls around, it acts as a cueing mechanism to signal their brain that sleep is near.
For a toddler – they ABSOLUTELY need structure. Can we skip a nap here a there? Of course. Does that mean early bedtime? Totally. If you are vacationing in Disney and you don’t want to leave midway through the day just to put your 2 year old down for a nap – you’ve got options. Either let them have a nap in the stroller, or keep them awake and move bedtime up by an hour.
That being said – we’ve done a lot of travel with Drake. We’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way, but I have a solid list of concrete items I ALWAYS bring with me now to make the days and nights breezy.
Sleep Related Travel Tips:
- Play Pen – check with your hotel or wherever you’re staying and make sure they have either a crib or a playpen. I can’t tell you how many times I have worked with clients who used to have great sleepers, but since they co-slept on vacation, they can’t get their child back into their crib at home. If your hotel doesn’t have one – bring your own.
- Sound Machine – this is a MUST. Those hotel doors slam SO LOUD when trying to even shut them quietly. Also, who wants to be confined to a still, quiet room for 12 hours? Not me. Crank that sound machine and turn the TV on. Order room service. Enjoy your evening! The sound machine isn’t considered a sleep prop because it is portable and it doesn’t lull your baby into sleep. It IS a familiar sound, but its purpose is to eliminate any external environmental noises from waking up your child.
- Routine – Don’t break your bedtime or nap time routine just because you’re on vacay. Bring the favourite book, bring the lovie, sing your regular song, do a sink bath if a regular bath isn’t available. DO your routine. This is SO essential.
- Lovie – If your child has a comfort item in their crib that they sleep with, you must bring it. They associate this item with sleep and it will be much easier for them to transition to a new environment if their lovie is there with them. Another thing that is helpful to bring along is a familiar bed sheet. Babies love smell and familiarity.
- Darkness – make that room dark. Bring garbage bags and duct tape if you must. Another super cool that is available now is either the Slumberpod (discount code: midnightmama)or the Snoozeshade (discount code: midnightmama10). Both items fit perfectly over a pack n play and provide a perfectly dark space for your child to sleep. Honestly, the Slumberpod has changed my life. (Read my real time review here). Another option is to tuck their playpen into a closet or even a windowless bathroom so that they get that optimal darkness. Darkness is the main factor in melatonin production. It is essential.
- Travel Days – travel days are a total write off. I just want to let you know that even MY child sleeps on me when we’re flying. There’s no nap room hidden on the airplane for our sleep trained babies (I mean, I wish). I do suggest trying to schedule daytime flights, only because red eye flights are SO hard for your littles, but once you reach your destination, if it’s bedtime, do your routine and off to sleep like they would at home.
So, that’s it!
Most of all, I want you to remember to have fun. These items I’ve listed are definitely not necessary, but they would make your trip way easier. If you have fallen back into some old habits when you went on vacation and you’re wondering how to fix that – let’s set up a call and I can evaluate your situation and give advice as needed.