Travelling with young children and taking them away from their usual environment and routine can be a bit of a challenge to say the least and can often result result in sleepless nights both while away and difficulty to adjust once back. We recently went to Walt Disney World Florida which was an amazing family experience but establishing a sleep routine that worked for our 2 year old twins was a little tricky at times. I'm glad to say we eventually got them into a reasonable sleep pattern which meant we were able to wake up refreshed and ready for another day of fun and adventures most days. I have to also add that I was really impressed with how Ben, our 5 year old son coped, he adjusted to his new surroundings almost immediately and slept really well, loving sleeping in the hotel bed.
One thing that I would say is definitely required when travelling with young children is patience, and heaps of it. Young kids will usually need a day or two to adjust to a new place. You will often find your child gets overtired and overstimulated by the wonderful new place which they have been taken to. For them, there are so many exciting things to see and do, not to mention explore and take in, you will often find that they will push themselves to stay awake and get overtired. An overtired child is a grumpy, tantrum throwing child so lots of patience is required if this stage is reached. Take a deep breath and know that they have not just transformed into a devil child, they are merely tired and will return to your sweet, lovable son or daughter once they have had enough.
My Travel Sleep TipsTo help other parents travelling with young children I have decided to share a few things that work for us to make the experience of travelling with young children a whole lot easier.
Recreate Bedtime Routine: If at home you always bath your child, read a book and have a snuggle at bedtime then stick as close as possible to that routine when you are away. Your child will like the familiarity of going through the motions of a normal bedtime routine and something as simple as having a favourite story read to them really can make a huge difference.
Black out blinds: Most hotels have black out blinds but if you are staying elsewhere which doesn't have them you can pick up a travel black out blind which attaches easily to windows usually with suckers. These really help to create a sleep inducing environment for your little one.
Night Light: Similarly, if your child is used to having a night light on, pack one. You may also find it useful yourself for navigating around the room once they are finally asleep without waking them. Failing that pack a small torch so you don't need to switch on the lights once they are asleep.
Blanket or Favourite Toy: If your child has a favourite blanket or cuddly toy that they sleep with, pack it. You will be glad you did so. If you have something like Ewan the Dream Sheep which plays white noise, even better. However be warned the white noise may send the grown ups to sleep just as quickly as the kids, if not before.
Travel Cots: Before you go be sure to check whether the accommodation you are staying in can provide a cot or bed with rail (if required) for your child. If not consider getting or borrowing a travel cot to bring with you.
Avoid sugary treats before bed time: You may be on holidays but avoid an unnecessary sugar overload by keeping sugary sweets and snacks to earlier in the day. Believe me you will pay if you choose to avoid this tip - I speak from experience.
Avoid over stimulation: While it is always tempting to pop on the hotel TV or let your child have some tablet time to keep them entertained while in the room try and limit it before bedtime. Reading a book is a better option or put on some calming music to help create a more sleep friendly atmosphere.
Try and stick to the local time zone: If abroad help your child to settle into a good sleeping pattern by sticking to the local time zone where possible. If they are really struggling a short power nap can help to keep them going but do not to let them nap too long as they will not sleep later.
Up at normal time: It might be tempting to let your child have a long lie-in in the morning but it will make it harder on them to adjust to their new surroundings if you do.
Finally once you return home try and get back to your usual sleep routines as quickly as possible as it makes it easier on the whole family to get back to normal.
I do hope these tips will help others. Happy Travelling and making memories.