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 sleep tips for the family traveller to ensure everyone gets the rest they need to allow them to fully enjoy their new surroundings.
Sleep Tips for the Family Traveller
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.
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.