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How to Keep Your Kids on a Sleep Schedule While Traveling

School’s out, summer’s in, and family adventures await. But how do you manage your child’s nighttime schedule when their regular routine is anything but?

This story was produced in partnership with GoodNites®, the #1 NightTime Underwear that works to keep kids dry and worry-free, so they can do what they do best: be kids.

It’s vacation time! A break from the regular school calendar opens up a world of possibility for kids, from visiting with the grandparents to epic road trips to fun-filled sleepovers with friends. Excitement is on the docket. Sleep? Not so much.

When kids’ regular routines suddenly change, sleep is usually the first thing to suffer. Different times zones, unfamiliar beds, the tantalizing opportunity to explore someplace new: It’s easy to see why sleep is not a priority. But it should be, since kids ages 4 to 7 are at a critical point in their development that requires nine to 13 hours of shut-eye a night to fully rest and recover for a new day of activity. Without enough sleep, your little ball of energy and enthusiasm will turn into a clingy, crabby, tantrum-prone monster.

While nothing is a perfect substitute for the comfort of sleeping in their own bed, there are ways to help kids adapt their routines to whatever new situation arises. Here are some essential tips to help kids sleep soundly, even when they’re away from home.

Fatherly IQ
  1. What type of vacation activities do you enjoy the most?
    Outdoor Activities
    Theme Parks
    Tours
    Spa Days
    Concerts
    Zoos or Aquariums
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1. Put Sleep Aids in Your Carry-On

This one is simple: If you’re traveling, pack your kid’s essentials in your carry-on. All the best preparation for sleep aids is useless if you stash them in luggage that was sent to Cincinnati while you’re spending the week in San Fran; you should know exactly where the sleep aids are at all times. When you need them, you should have them on hand.

2. Have the Travel Talk

For most adults, travel — and all the hassles that go along with it — is second nature. Cars, airports, long lines, major delays, sitting on the tarmac, eating while in-flight, landing, security checks, rental car pick-ups. When you look at it from a kid’s point of view, it’s utter madness. And if they don’t know what to expect, it can be anxiety-inducing.

Starting about a week before your trip, sit down with your child and describe some of the new things they will encounter during their summer travels. Describe the fun parts: Picking out a meal on the airplane, watching movies, meeting new people. Also talk about some of the other new experiences, like sleeping in a small space on a plane or in a hotel and waiting in line for just about everything. If your child struggles with bedwetting, talk about how you will ease his anxiety by using GoodNites®, NightTime Underwear and GoodNites® Bed Mats should problems arise.

3. Rearrange the Furniture

You might not have to pack a crib anymore, but you may still find yourself doing some furniture rearranging if your child’s anxiety keeps them from being able to sleep. In hotel rooms with double beds, for example, drag their mattress on the floor over next to your bed to help them feel safer.

4. Pack the Perfect Sleep-Aid Travel Kit

Be sure to have the following whenever traveling with kids:

  • A Favorite Stuffy: Stuffed toys, technically called “attachment objects,” mark an important phase of your child’s development, one where they are learning to self-soothe at night when Mom or Dad’s not around. Snuggling close with Mr. Elephant in a strange new room reassures him that he can close his eyes and still be safe.
  • A Favorite Pillow: The familiar smell and feel of her pillow from home can help your child sleep better on the road or plane, as well as in her guest bed once you arrive.
  • A Nightlight: Unfamiliar rooms can be scary in the dark, not to mention the practical issues of finding the bathroom in the pitch-black in a new space. Pack one from home, or if you’re purchasing one for the first time, look for lights that have friendly animal-shaped covers and emit a warm glow.
  • GoodNites Nighttime Underwear: Bedwetting is one of the most common side-effects of having a routine disrupted. When it happens, kids feel confused and ashamed as they are well past potty training. With a smile and a hug, send them to bed wearing a pair of GoodNites® NightTime Underwear. It looks like their regular undies, but offers absorbency and odor-proofing in case an accident occurs.
  • Bedtime Books: Reading together is an evening ritual many dads share with their kids. Pack a few favorites from home that are familiar and well-loved. It’s fine to read from your tablet for convenience, but if your kid likes to follow along, skip the electronic devices as they emit a blue light that interferes with sleep signals.
  • Soothing Music: Before your child’s friends arrive for a sleepover, download a playlist of soft instrumental music, or a white-noise app that plays a steady stream of noise-blocking nothingness. Once the kids are in bed, hit play: The background sounds will help keep them from fixating on every whisper or sigh their friend makes.
  • A Fan: No wifi access? Borrow an old fan from the house you’re staying in and set it up on a windowsill near your child’s bed. The whirring of the blades helps drown out unfamiliar sounds of creaky floors or doors opening and closing, easing your child into dreamland.
  • GoodNites® Bed Mats: These absorbent pads are the perfect peace of mind if you’re worried about your child soiling a friend’s guest bed, or if your child is worried about having an accident when a friend sleeps over but is embarrassed to wear nighttime underwear.
  • A Kid-Friendly Clock: No kid wants the fun to end, but setting up an easy-to-read digital clock allows you to stick to a bedtime schedule. You can either put tape over the minute numbers, or simply say that when the first number on the clock says “8,” that means everyone must be in their beds.

5. Don’t Forget About Sleepovers

Older kids resist wearing Nighttime Underwear at a sleepover party for fear their friends will find out and tease them. As the #1 Nighttime Underwear GoodNites® provides the discretion your child needs with odor absorption with a look that is similar to real underwear to keep them dry and worry-free. Remind them of this fact, and let them know that the American Academy of Pediatrics confirms one in five kids ages 5 to 10 still wets the bed at night. Odds are pretty good one of their peers will be wearing GoodNites® as well.