Summer Travel and Sleep Tips for Families

packing list for children sleep travel
summer sleep travel tips


Summer is here, and while it brings the end of the school year,  plans for travel, holidays, and family trips, it can also throw off your child’s sleep routine. Whether you are traveling near or far, it is an adventure to get out of the house with a newborn, infant, toddler, or preschool child.

Watch or Listen to The Sleep Success Travel Tips where I share my best tips to simplify travel with your little one:

  • Getting Your Child to Sleep While on the Go!
  • Packing & traveling: Recreate the sleep environment while traveling
  • Play on the go
  • Download and print The Best Packing List Guide! 

To help your family enjoy the summer while keeping sleep on track, here are some essential tips to incorporate into your daily routine:

1. Consistent Wake and Bedtime

Why it matters: A consistent sleep/wake routine keeps your child’s body rhythm stay on track, making bedtime easier and reducing the likelihood of overtiredness, which can lead to behavioral changes. Flexible routines for naps can be helpful to fill the sleep tank during the day to minimize meltdowns. 

Tips to implement:

  • Stick to the Schedule: Even on vacation, try to keep wake-up and bedtime within an hour of your usual times. This helps maintain your child’s internal clock.  The goal with naps is to fill the sleep tank, so plan to be flexible and do what works. 
  • Create a Wind-Down Routine: Establish a calming bedtime routine that can be used anywhere, such as reading a book or listening to soft music. This is a great time to slow down and help your child reconnect with you after a busy day of adventures. 
  • Pack  the Sleep Essentials: Bring along your child’s favorite sleep items, like a blanket, lovey, or stuffed animal, sound machine, darkening curtain s  to help them feel secure and relaxed in new environments.  Check out some of my other favorite things that grow with you and your child when you are on the go. 

2. Regular Meals and Snacks

Why it matters: Regular meals and snacks are essential to maintain blood sugar levels and avoid the moody moments when your child is low on fuel.

Tips to implement:

  • Plan Ahead: Pack healthy snacks for travel days and outings. Think fruits, nuts, and whole-grain options.
  • Keep your Flexible Routine: Try to have meals and snacks around the same times each day to provide stability and predictability for your child.  
  • Hydrate: Ensure your child drinks plenty of water, especially in the heat, to prevent dehydration which can affect their mood and energy levels.

Postpartum doula tip: 

 If your baby is less than 6 months old they do not need any additional water.

Follow your baby’s cues and offer the breast or bottle often whether it’s breastmilk or formula. Breastmilk and formula have enough water to keep your baby hydrated. Offering any water before 6 months can actually be dangerous because it dilutes the calories your baby actually needs from the breastmilk or formula. 

If your child is older than 6 months but under 1 year, the same applies but the AAP advises 4-8 oz per day and some sources say to stay between 2-4oz.

3. “Plan” Some Down Time

Why it matters: Avoiding over scheduling helps your child reduce stress. Discussing ways to include downtime in their routine can help your child  understand what relaxation means to them and self directed play keeps your child doing what works best for them.  This will also help you minimize your stress too.  

Tips to implement:

  • Balance Activities: Mix high-energy activities with periods of rest. A trip to the beach in the morning can be followed by a quiet afternoon with a movie or a nap.
  • Create Relaxation Spaces: Find or create calm spaces for your child to unwind, whether it’s a cozy corner in the hotel room or a shady spot in the park.  Starting bedtime a little earlier and winding down with mom or dad can be helpful too.  
  • Practice Mindfulness: Introduce simple mindfulness or relaxation exercises that can be done anywhere, like deep breathing or gentle stretching.


4. Share the Division of Responsibilities

Why it matters: Helping a child feel that they actively contribute to the family can improve self-esteem and give them a sense of purpose.  Small responsibilities make a big impact. 

Tips to implement:

  • Simple Tasks: Give your child age-appropriate tasks like packing their own bag, helping set up a picnic, or choosing activities for the day.  As your child grows, you can share the packing list with them and coach them through the packing process. 
  • Encourage Participation: Make responsibilities fun by turning them into games or challenges.
  • Praise Efforts: Acknowledge and praise your child’s efforts to boost their confidence and reinforce positive behavior.
  1. Use a Pre-made Packing List

Why it matters: A pre-made packing list saves time, reduces stress, and makes it easy to remember everything without rewriting the list over and over.

Tips to implement:

  • Download and Print: Download my best packing list, print it out, and keep it handy for every trip. This ensures you have everything covered from the get-go.
  • Set It and Forget It: Once you have the list, you can easily delegate packing tasks to family members, making the process smoother and more collaborative. This has been a game changer for me especially in the teen season of life! 
  • Customize as Needed: While the list covers essentials, feel free to add any personal items specific to your family’s needs or the nature of your trip.  This can minimize the need to keep rewriting the packing list each time and help you plan for what really matters. 

Postpartum Doula Tip: While you travel, if you think of something you missed, update list right away to make the next trip even easier. 

By incorporating these strategies, you can ensure your family enjoys a well-rested, happy, and stress-free summer, no matter where your travels take you!


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