Travel tips

Handling nights on holiday with a toddler

Last updated 11th July 2022

Denise Wallin is Mrs ATWWAH and she’s sharing her ideas and tips on how to handle nights away while travelling with toddlers.

Even for the most flexible of parents evenings with young children on holiday can be stressful. The following tips should help.

Holidays are not for miracles

If your child is a nightmare to get to bed or sleep at home then this probably won’t change just because you are on holiday.  Expect the usual shenanigans at bedtime on holiday too and who knows you may be pleasantly surprised.

Pack a little bit of home with you

Whatever you do don’t forget your child’s favourite toy/comfort blanket.  If they need something to help them nod off at home then they will on holiday, too. 

Always take a couple of favourite bedtime books as familiarity will help your child settle into their new surroundings at bedtime.

Pay for what you can space wise

If your holiday budget stretches to accommodation with more sleeping space, then invest. Holiday evenings are not the great when spent whispering to your partner in the bathroom as you hide out so you don’t want to wake the kids.

If you are travelling somewhere hot then try to get a balcony if you’re all in the same room. At least you can sit out there until your own bedtime. 

Watch the clock, but be flexible 

Babies and very young children are often on a stricter routine so try to stick to the feeding patterns you would at home. 

If your children are a bit older then eating a bit later in the evening shouldn’t upset routines too much though. Try to keep bedtimes at roughly the same time as at home and make sure you follow the same bedtime routine  If they have a bath and a story each night then do that on holiday, too.

Always try to wake up at the same time each morning as this keeps body clocks regular and should help when you return home.

Depending on the time difference you may have no choice but to go for ‘local’ time so expect a bit of jet lag when you get home too. Just focus on the fact that after a few days things should get back to normal especially if you keep your children to their usual activities and bedtime when they are at home.

Book sensible travel times

Obviously you can’t always get sensible flight times but try to avoid flights which leave in the very early hours, especially on your way home  Overnight long-haul flights may sound daunting but often the lights being down and the fact it’s in the evening can help children sleep. 

On long car journeys to our parents, Mr ATWWAH and I often travel on an evening straight after bath time with the kids in their pyjamas. They’ll nod off in the back of the car and you can, with a bit of practice, sometimes get them straight into bed at the end of the journey.

As with travel times, try not to have too many connections or waits between them. Sometimes, these can’t always be avoided but they can be pretty stressful with young children. Research what facilities are available in advance for kids, such as play areas and child-friendly restaurants, and make sure you have plenty of snacks and books/games as entertainment in your hand luggage. 

Night time travel product

If your child has a night light at home then make sure you take one on holiday with you.

Travel pillows for children are widely available and are great for flights or car journeys. A lot of them are in the shape of animals so they can double as a toy, too.

Portable black out blinds are a great buy for kids who need complete darkness at night time and are useful to have if you’re not sure how thick the curtains/blinds will be in your accommodation.

Keep a sense of humour

As with most things involving children, retaining a sense of humour definitely helps if you are up in the middle of the night with a toddler while you’re on holiday. Just tell yourself, at least you don’t have to get up and go to work in the morning.

Denise Wallin writes a blog called, sharing her family travel experiences and tips as she – Mrs ATWWAH – travels with her husband Mr ATWWAH and their two year old son Master ATWWAH.

If you’re looking for more toddler tips, then check out more of Denise Wallin’s articles on toddler travel