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4 Tips for Children's Sleep While on Vacation

children's sleep conscious parenting May 24, 2022
Vacation Sleeping Children

Having a child doesn’t mean you're confined to your home for the rest of your life to maintain their good sleep.

I say... Keep traveling!  Explore the world!  Connect with loved ones!  Get out there and paint the town red!  Travel in any capacity is wonderful for everyone!  

In fact, great sleepers at home are the most flexible sleepers and very easy to take on vacation with you AND have great sleep.  

To help maintain sleep while on vacation, here are 4 areas to consider when gearing up for a vacation:


Your Thoughts, Worries & Fears

Before you even leave your home, check in with your thoughts regarding your child's sleep.  Pause, take a deep breath and ask "how am I feeling about _(inset your child's name)____ sleep when we are away?"

It's important to acknowledge your initial feelings and thoughts.  No judgement, no self criticism, just compassionate awareness.  

Then ask yourself "what do I want to believe and thing about _(child's name)__ sleep?   How do I want to feel about their sleep on vacation?  What do I want to see in our reality as we travel?"

You see, your thoughts become your reality.  

If you're worried and fearful they won't sleep when you're on vacation, then that is exactly what you'll see play out in your reality while away.   Why?  Because your thoughts influence your words.   So soon you'll start speaking about how "I'm just so worried they won't sleep".  And your words will influence your actions.... so when you're away you'll avoid setting boundaries around respecting their sleep times, or you're just ignore their tied cues and keep pushing forward.    And your actions are the basis for what will actually happen.... which is a child who doesn't sleep well when on vacation.  

Start off on the best foot by checking in and aligning your thoughts with what you want your reality to be with your child's sleep when on vacation.

 "I trust my child will sleep well and feel rested for a present and enjoyable vacation for all of us."  

Visualize your child sleeping well in their new environment.  

Visualize your patience and compassion with them as they practice good sleep in a new environment.  

And watch it all come true!    Your beliefs are THAT powerful!


Communicate & Validate The Truth

You are in a new location!  Acknowledge this to your child, especially if they are under the age of 5 years old.   

As an adult, you have experience, memories and awareness with traveling and sleeping.  We often forget this, that what we find as "normal" as we proceed through the motions of travel is complete new to our children.  

Simply slowing down, acknowledging and communicating with our children about the experience at hand is so powerful!  

Our children are so aware of everything around them!  And so often we're moving through the motions and forget to connect with them as they are experiencing something completely new to them.  

When you arrive to your destination, even if it's grandmas house!, take moments to walk your child around the room, especially the room they will be sleeping in.  You can share statements such as :

  • We are in a new place.  Can you smell the new smell?  What do you notice around this room/house?  Wow, there are new things to explore and see!
  • We are going to sleep here for 3 nights.  It is safe for you to rest your body here.  We'll be here with you the entire time. 

Allow them ample time to explore their new environment.  And best case scenario is you arrive with plenty of time to do they can grow more comfortable and able to relax and ease into sleep when it's bedtime.



Darkness is a key element and foundational piece to great sleep.  Children sleep best in complete darkness until they are old enough to ask for a night light.  

Darkness is important when traveling for two reasons:

  1. It's what they know at home and they find comfort in familiarity.
  2. It's to your advantage to block out seeing the newer environment, so they're able to rest their bodies and mind and ease into sleep (instead of staring at their new environment for hours).

For children who are old, using a small night light - be patient and compassionate with them as they gain comfort and understanding of their new environment for sleep.  It may take them a little longer to fall asleep those first nights and that is okay.  This is all new for them.    


How to make it dark?

  • I'm known for my darkness levels when traveling.  The first thing I pack are ways to make the room darker when on vacation!  Easy things to pack are:
    • portable black out curtains
    • tinfoil and tape
    • black garbage bags and tape
  • Any home I've stayed in:  grandma's, rented homes, etc - I spend the first moments upon arrival preparing our sleeping room for sleep. 

You can never be too prepared for great sleep when on vacation!


Establish Good Sleep From The Start

My first tip to parents is to arrive to your destination for an appropriate timed bedtime.  

Starting off a vacation with an early bedtime allows your child to:

  1. fall asleep easiest in a new location
  2. sleep all night without waking
  3. wake happy and excited for the vacation ahead

It's a win-win!  

Having the first night in a new location go well with sleep, establishes great sleep from the get-go.   It build's confidence for your child, and most importantly YOU!  They can sleep great somewhere new. 

And if you're able to establish a great night of sleep and honor naps the first day -  you're allowing for more flexibility with your sleeper for the duration of your vacation.    Scheduling your vacation for a slow, sleep-respected beginning will pay off endlessly for the duration of your vacation.


Vacations are for everyone!  They're a time to let go of the grind at home, relax and enjoy yourself.   You can enjoy vacation AND great sleep, because truly, that is the true prize:  feeling rested while on vacation!  

And no matter how sleep happens when on vacation, when you return home it's back to the basics with sleep.  Keep your vacation sleep habits on vacation!  


Happy exploring! 



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