Handling Nights on Vacation with a Toddler

Leslie Johnson
17th June 2015

Even for the most flexible of parents evenings with young children on vacation can be stressful. Lucikly, these tips should help.

Vacations 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 vacation. Expect the usual shenanigans at bedtime on vacation too. But who knows, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Pack a little bit of home with you

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

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

Pay for what you can space wise

If your vacation budget can stretch to include accommodations with more sleeping space, it’s a wise investment. Vacation evenings are not that great when they’re spent whispering to your partner in the bathroom as you hide out so you don’t 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 grown up 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. 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 vacation, 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 bedtimes when they get 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 trips to visit our parents, Mr ATWWAH and I often travel during the evening straight after bath time with the kids in their pajamas. 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. 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 carry-on and hand luggage. 

Night time travel products

If your child has a night light at home then make sure you take one on vacation 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 humor 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 aroundtheworldwithahighchair.com, 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.

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