SLEEP Tips for the Family Traveller

Don't crash and burn on your travels. Follow these four simple SLEEP tips for family travel stamina (via thetravellingmom.ca)

Ah, the wonders of travel.

You’ve just arrived in an exciting new place with so much to see and do! You start your morning with a hearty, healthy breakfast and are ready to go. Within a few hours, the kids start whining and complaining, and you are starting to wish you left them at home. What could have gone wrong?

Looks like some SLEEP tips are in order! Sleep is often overlooked as an important part of maintaining one’s energy – both physically and mentally. So if your child or partner is acting more moody or irritable than usual, take a moment to consider whether or not they got enough shut-eye the night before, then adjust your expectations accordingly.

Here are four travel tips for better sleep to ensure everyone gets the SLEEP and rest they need to allow them to fully enjoy their new surroundings.

Don't crash and burn on your travels. Follow these four simple SLEEP tips for family travel stamina (via thetravellingmom.ca)
Yes, it’s okay to lie down for a break on the green (though not in Paris!), or return to the hotel for an afternoon nap.

1. Plan for an adjustment day

If you are crossing time zones, allow some time for your body to deal with jet lag. The amount of time will vary with the age of your children and your own body’s ability to adapt, but try to take it easy on the first day. You will be better off seeing fewer things and really enjoying them, than plowing through attractions with little enthusiasm.

This strategy worked extremely well on our trip to France when our 11 PM flight was delayed by 4 hours. Fortunately, we’d planned the next day to be a flex-day. We spent the day leisurely strolling through our new neighborhood and ended up relaxing on the grass field next to the Eiffel Tower. At one point, late in the afternoon, we noticed a big break in the line-up and decided to go up the tower. We enjoyed our view from the top with less crowds, and even managed to watch the sunset. Seeing Paris lit up at night was an unexpected highlight! Planning an adjustment day does not equal a boring day.

2. Pack sleepytime comforts for the kids

Buddy the bear, Sammy the kitty, Bella the bunny. Most kids have a familiar favourite stuffy who can help relax and settle them at bedtime. Allow each child to pack a small buddy (okay, maybe two) in their backpack. If your child is tactile sensitive, be sure to pack familiar PJs. You may even want to also pack a blanket or 1 set of bedsheets to ensure his/her sensitivities to textures are addressed. (thetravellingmom says: We never travelled anywhere without the kids special blankets. Even when they were disintegrating, the blankets were secure in a plastic Ziploc bag!)

3. Pack sleepytime comforts for the adults

Fortunately our sleeping aids take up significantly less space.  A few pairs of earplugs and an eyemask are great to have on hand to help you block out unfamiliar lights and sounds. A white noise machine may help as well. If you think you will need a little more help in getting to sleep, be sure to visit your primary health care provider to discuss options for sleeping aids. He or she might suggest the use of melatonin, a natural sleep related hormone, or other appropriate remedies.

travel tips for better sleep
Sweet slumber! A comfy hotel bed goes a long way to a good night’s sleep and happy tomorrow (Credit: N Paletta)

4. Maintain a sleep routine

I know this sounds like work and not like being on holidays at all. I get it! When our children were younger we spent one week at a lakefront resort every summer with our extended family. The kids would get up early and stay up late for the whole week. No one suffered the consequences of their free-spirit ways. But nothing was required of them, either. No tours, no museums, no churches, no line-ups, no crowds. It was all about fun.

But not every travel experience is so relaxing and carefree. If your family travel trip style calls for more travelling and sight seeing with the kids in a foreign land or new city, having a sleep routine can help ensure everyone is well rested. Everyone will be ready to tackle the crowds, the line-ups, the heat, and the unexpected. Your sleep routine can be the same routine you follow at home (eg. light snack, bath, oral care, bedtime story) or can be a modified version (eg. oral care, bedtime story). These are our favorite travel tips for better sleep but the most important thing to do is to simply go with the flow and with what works best for you.

What do you do to make sure you get a good night’s rest while travelling with kids?

Bio: Noony Santos Paletta is a registered dietitian who believes healthy living should be simple + fun! She is a co-owner of the Vancouver based company, iUBER wellness, which promotes a balanced approach to health by focusing on 4 key areas: EATing, PLAYing, SLEEPing, and TALKing. Noony enjoys a healthy lifestyle at home and while travelling with her husband and 3 children. She believes healthy living can include Captain Crunch for breakfast at the campsite, chocolate croissants in Paris, gelato in Italy, gulab jamun in India, as well as other culinary treats! You can find her and practical tips for your healthy lifestyle at iuber.ca

Photo Credits: N Paletta and Pixabay * This post contains affiliate links.

36 thoughts on “SLEEP Tips for the Family Traveller”

  1. I completely agree that having an adjustment day (or two, depending on your destination) is crucial. I always try and get my kids adapted to their new time zone asap but I definitely don’t fill their days with sightseeing. And likewise, we never go anywhere without the kids’ favourite sleep time buddies. Great tips!

  2. Great tips! We always plan for an adjustment day both on the first day of the trip and the first day when we return home. Makes all the difference!

  3. One thing we try to do when we travel is have at least two rooms for our family, so that those who are night owls can stay up longer than those who need to tuck in early. It’s not always possible, but for the most part it is doable, since we like to book vacation rentals, as opposed to single hotel rooms where everyone has to sleep in the same room.

    1. We love booking vacation rentals as well, and I agree that having room flexibility works really well. I certainly can’t stay up as late as my teenagers! Thanks for your comment, Jolanta!

  4. Great tips! I try to follow all of them except I don’t always have an adjustment day. Sometimes our schedule is just too tight.

  5. Two of my kids are terrible sleepers but somehow when we travel it is all much the same as at home, no worse. I decided long ago if I was going to be sleep deprived I’d rather it be somewhere fabulous than at home.

  6. An adjustment day is such a good idea- unfortunately I feel like I’m always trying to see so much I don’t want to spend a day lazing around!

  7. Great tips. My family always followed your tips when we travel. We also tend to make time for siesta. An afternoon nap (or even just laying down for an hour or two without sleeping) on a hot afternoon can make all the difference between a bunch of grumps and a great family trip.

    1. Thanks Rand, and yes to a siesta! They’re such a great idea, with or without jet lag. 🙂

  8. I always plan an adjustment day or two depending on the time zone. We try adapt to the new time zone as quickly as possible – the first few days can be rough.

    1. I agree Nancy, the time zone and flight time are big factors in how rough those adjustments days may be. Adjusting quickly is key!

  9. Great tips! Adjusting to a new timezone can be so hard sometimes. We always plan an adjustment day, too–it’s nice to get your bearings and not stress about doing much when you arrive. We always pack a white noise machine too–can’t live without it!

  10. I could do with a white noise machine, sounds very handy! I’ve also heard that taking melatonin tablets can help a little with jet lag so you get a good night’s sleep but haven’t tried them

    1. I haven’t tried melatonin, but have taking ant-jet lag pills while in transit. Jury’s out on whether that works for me though, I’m not sure yet. 🙂

  11. I never travel with kids, but some of your tips will be useful for me too! I’m thinking a white noise machine might actually help in my own home, in central London. Noisy neighbours can be a real problem here

    1. Yes, I’m sure a white noise machine would help in London. Used one recently in NYC and it made a real difference to shutting out the city noise.

  12. These are great tips, with or without children! I never, ever, leave home without a sleep mask, it absolutely helps me maintain a routine and sort of signal to my body that’s its time for rest. I like the idea of favorite PJs for kids, so it feels a bit more like home.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the tips Annie! I sleep with an eye mask everywhere, including home in the summer months. It gets so bright so early!

  13. I rarely travel with kids but I do think all the 4 tips above apply to solo/adult/group travels as well. Yes, including tip no 2 above as I do have adult friends who travel with teddy bears and their favourite pillows too. 🙂

  14. We are all about getting outside for some fresh air once we land and walking around at a leisurely pace. No tour buses though as we learned those are great for falling asleep! A white noise machine certainly helps once we fall asleep, and patience goes a long way for the first couple of days. These are some great tips!

    1. Yes! Going for a walk for some fresh air and orientation is a great way to relax and stay awake. Thanks Kirsten!

  15. Great tips here! We are about to leave for a trip that will require a change in sleep schedule so I have been actively planning out our strategy as it can definitely ruin a trip if even one person is sleep deprived. Just added the kid’s fave blankets to the packing list but hadn’t thought about sleepytime comforts for us adults. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Happy to help Christina! Glad that you found the tips useful for your upcoming trip. Happy travels!

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Claudia

Claudia

Thanks for visiting The Travelling Mom!

I’m Claudia, an adventurous mom who loves to explore the world and travel with my family. This site shares modern-mom-tested family travel sanity tips, destination advice, and inspiration to stay ever curious and create lifelong travel memories.

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