So you have an amazing vacation planned, or maybe you’re just stepping out of town for a few days, and you may be wondering…
How do you handle the travel day with your baby?!
How do you handle naps when you’re in the car or on the plane for a while?
What will the routines be like?
Should you throw all the expectations out the window and think it’s going to be terrible?
In today’s video I’m giving you everything you need to know about how to handle the travel day with your baby!
One of the hallmarks of the Campbell family is that we believe in experiences and traveling! I can vividly remember driving hours on end to get to the beach to meet my family with an 18-month old and it wasn’t a pleasant experience but the memories we made at the beach… I’ll never forget those!
We were able to travel with BOTH of our girls from the early months of their lives and still to this day at 6 and 8 years old we enjoy international trips with them. It is a TRUE delight to travel with our kids!!
And it really does start in these baby days!
So if you are a parent thinking travel is over and fun is over because it’s too hard and too much stress… I just want to encourage you!! It’s only hard if you make it hard!!
I’m giving you a strategy today that you can implement the next travel day with your baby and I hope – as everything we do at Little Z’s – it just gives you some relief that it’s not actually that bad!!
Yes, have low expectations, BUT I’m giving you some things you can do to help your baby sleep well even when you’re on the go and give you some tips and strategies for the night when you do arrive!
One of the things I’m very passionate about when it comes to travel is the time of day!
My older sister is a champ at driving! She LOVES to drive all night long to reach her destination and her kids sleep in the car. Me?! As you can tell, I love my sleep, and so having me stay up all night long to drive or even Chad and I to switch off – it is NOT going to happen!!
So the first question that I always help people address is: When is the best time to leave for your trip?
Honestly, it’s your personality. If you’re a night owl and you can just go for it, great! You do you! Or if you’re someone who’s like me and you’re like nope, I need to be in my bed for 8-10 hours, wake up refreshed, and leave the next morning, then do that!
A little bit of advice though – If you are traveling through the night, make sure you have someone there with you who can keep you awake!
Analyze the time that is best for YOUR FAMILY to leave… morning, nighttime, or even middle of the day!
Some families actually prefer to leave during a nap time and if this is your family, knowing that maybe your child sleeps well in the car and it’s totally fine by you, great! Pack the car, be ready to go (or choose the flight time that aligns to your baby’s naptime), do their naptime routine, strap them into the car seat, and start your drive or get on the plane!
And when you’re in your transit, hopefully the baby will fall asleep!
You can’t force them to. But if you know that your baby naps really well on the go, this could be a GREAT option for you!!
And trust me from personal experience… if you’re flying, you’re probably not going to be able to have a baby carrier strapped to you and hold them while they sleep. I learned this the hard way with my youngest – they asked me to take her out and of course she woke up and then I was really stressed out. Be sure to check your airline for rules and safety regulations on traveling with your baby!
If your baby does sleep well on the go: You will do your naptime routine, get in the car or on the plane, and help them get to sleep if they need that.
If you have a child who does NOT sleep well on the go: Pack your car during the first nap, get everything ready to go, and as soon as they wake up from their nap, pick them up, feed them, and then get in the car and start driving.
This was me with my oldest!! I knew she was guaranteed one good nap, I knew she was fed and happy and we were good, so it was much easier for MY mental load to not have to be stressed out wondering if she was going to fall asleep or not!!!
Whether you want to leave super early in the morning, before naptime, after naptime, or at night, it’s going to depend on your family and your baby’s personality.
If you have a really long car ride, even if you do leave after one nap, they may or may not fall asleep again and not on their normal schedule. So hear me say: it’s okay if your whole day is thrown off! When you are on a plane or in the car, schedules are non-existent.
Be okay with travel disrupting your daily schedule for a few days!
Let go and release any expectation that things will happen at their normal times. Don’t stress yourself out about it. (And this is coming from someone who DID stress herself about it!!! Trust me, I did ALL the things and it just didn’t help AND caused tension between me and Chad!!)
But this is your permission to release it and know that the travel day is going to be a completely off day!
And if you’re riding on the airplane, I want you to throw the schedules out, yes, but also enjoy the contact naps!! This was the absolute best for me! Take pictures, relish it, and don’t stress out about them falling asleep on you! One day (or multiple days in the car) is not going to undo all the work that you’ve done to implement a great sleep routine!
First things first – prepare the baby’s sleep space the moment you reach your destination! No matter where you’re staying, set up your baby’s sleep space immediately.
Here’s why… You’re most likely going to put your baby to bed early that night.
Instead of just arriving and hanging out and then later remembering you have to set up all the equipment and everything else, just do it first! That way you can be reading your baby’s cues to put them down when they need it without having to delay them to set up their space!
When it comes to knowing when to put them to bed after a travel day – every kid is different.
If you have a very sensitive sleeper who is aware of the fact that they have been awake for too long, they’re very overtired, you’re likely going to have an early bedtime!
Or if you have a baby who can hang and is a little bit more comfortable with pushing wake windows, perhaps you’re getting there, setting up their sleep space and enjoying time with family, friends, catching up… and then doing their bedtime routine and putting them down around the normal time.
Overall, these strategies of acknowledging when you should leave for your travel day, knowing how the travel day will go and getting your baby down at bedtime once you arrive at your destination… it’s ALL dependent on what your child does!
But I hope by giving you these strategies and just some things to talk through, it’s giving you some ideas and also the motivation that it will not be so bad!!
I’d love to hear from you in the comments… How do you feel about releasing expectations during travel!?
I hope that by committing to travel and enjoying and making memories, you’re not feeling so anxious that it has to be perfect because it’s not!! Nothing is going to be perfect. When you travel with a baby, ALL kinds of things will happen.
But I’d love for you to be as prepared as possible, which is why we put together our Little Z’s Travel Guide!
This is a comprehensive guide that gives you a printable packing list for your baby and toddler, what to take in the car, on the plane, how to stay in a hotel room, how to set up the room, what expectations you should have on your travel experience and everything in between! Plus, how to get back on track when you’re HOME!
Grab it here so you can have FULL confidence that even when you’re away from home, sleep can still be a thing!
And remember… Just because you’re a parent does NOT mean you can’t enjoy travel anymore! Get your little ones out there in the world to explore and make those memories together!!! The travel day with your baby can be great!!
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