Tips for Sleep and Travel

It is incredibly easy to feel overwhelmed when planning to travel with your family. There is so much to think about and so much to organise. Despite this, we all need to take a holiday to refresh our minds and live the life we have been blessed with. With my family, we have completed (and enjoyed) local holidays (half an hour drive away from home), short weekends away (driving a few hours), flying across a country (5.5 hour flight), staying in a caravan and moving a young family to the other side of the world. With some experience under my belt, I feel there are some things I learned along the way that I want to share with you.

What you need to pack

This will vary depending on what type of holiday you will be having. Yep, it can all feel daunting. But what I can say worked for me was making a list of everything we needed, EVERYTHING. That reduced chances that we would forget something. We work on these lists a week or two out to give us time to pop to the shops to pick anything up that we might need. 

Pack everything your child typically usually uses when they sleep. This includes a portacot (if they aren’t in a “big bed”), comforters, dummies, sleeping bags, thermometer, cot sheets, black out blinds, white noise, massage creams etc.

But when we are travelling we also need to consider how to block light from the room so the child can nap during the day. We have stayed in some hotels or AirBNBs where the curtains are sheer or do not really block the light making a lunchtime nap difficult. There are a lot of portable blackout curtains available but I personally love the Snoozeshade ( It covers the portacot and acts as a blackout blind. But fear not, it is breatheable so your little one is safe in there. Check out their website if you want to know more. There are so many options available, so choose what works best for you.

Where will you go?

This depends on how much time you have and how far you want to travel. Think about changes to the time zone and what effect that may have on your child. It is completely possible to stay on home time and not deal with jetlag (depending on where you travel to and/or for how long), but it’s also ok to change time zones and manage naps/sleep. If you want your children to adjust to their holiday time zone, start slowly moving their body clock towards their holiday time zone about a week before your trip. Then once you land, their bodies will adjust within a few days (just like yours).

If you choose to change your sleep to your holiday timezone, make sure your family gets up and out of the holiday accommodation around your usual time and you all get plenty of sunlight and exercise. This will help your body clock to adjust.

How will you get there?

If you choose to fly but know your child does not sleep on planes, book a flight during their awake time and do your best to use their energy before their flight. Make sure you leave time for checking and getting to a hotel room at your destination.

If you’re driving you might be able to drive during your child’s nap/s. But if you know your child does not nap in the car, try to drive during their awake window so that you can arrive at your destination and they can have a rest. Always do your best to use their energy up though whether it be a good hard play at a playground. Don’t fear calling your accommodation and requesting an early check in, you’ll be surprised how many times it’s absolutely fine to check in early.

When to travel?

Think about whether your child will sleep on a flight or in the car. Try to time your travel for either when they will sleep (or nap, if you know they will do so), or when they are awake and allow then to nap/sleep when you arrive at your destination. Make sure you leave plenty of time for them to use their energy before/after the journey. You might even benefit from breaking a driving trip into a few days and this means you can explore some places you may never have been to before.

What about when I get home?

When you arrive home after your holiday it is business as usual. Follow the same tips to bring your body clocks back to your home time zone and follow your usual sleep/nap routine. Put your child to sleep in their usual bed with their usual sleep cues. It may take a few days for your child to adjust to being back home again but they will be back into their usual routine before you know it.

How else can I prepare?

I recommend letting your child sleep in their portacot in their bedroom for a day or two before your trip. This helps them get used to the portacot again so that when you arrive at your holiday destination, their bed isn’t as much of a novelty and they will ease into sleep more smoothly.

Once you are on your holiday, do your best to maintain your daily and bedtime routines. And do your best to make sure your child has one GOOD nap each day, this will help set them up for success. Just remember, it’s completely okay if your child is tired and you need to put them to be a little earlier. It means you’ll get more time to yourself that evening and your child will get a good night’s rest. If you’d like personalised help preparing for your travel, contact us or send an email to