Kids & Company Blog

Navigating Your Child’s Sleep While Traveling

This blog is written by our guest author, Alana Metallo, Certified Sleep Consultant from MetaSleep Consulting. MetaSleep helps families navigate sleep and live a well-rested lifestyle. Through consultation, they educate, guide, and support families about the benefits of healthy sleep, and help parents create a customized sleep routine for their child’s naps and bedtime.


Planning a family vacation can be both exciting and overwhelming. There are so many moving parts involved when taking your child away from their familiar surroundings. Managing your child’s sleep while travelling can make your trip more enjoyable. We all know that an overtired child is not fun for anyone to be around.

Does this mean you have to plan your whole trip around your child’s sleep? No, it doesn’t. However, taking the following suggestions into consideration will help to make traveling with your children more enjoyable.

A New Sleep Space

Both adults and children feel most comfortable with familiar sleep environments. Traveling changes things up, and it may cause disruptions to everyone’s sleep. Sleeping in an unfamiliar place can be scary. Below are a couple of suggestions for your child to feel safe and secure in this new sleep space.

Make it as familiar as possible:

  • Bring their lovey and/or favourite blanket
  • Pack the sound machine
  • Bring their sleep sack
  • Create a dark room
  • Follow the same nap/bedtime routine as at home

Create a separate sleep space:

  • If possible, create their own sleep space (ie. hanging sheets to create a room divider)
  • Invest in a Slumberpod for children who are still in a crib/pack and play. They can also be used with a toddler mattress. A Slumberpod creates a dark sleep space for your little with easy set up and take down.

Practice makes progress:

  • If you’re using a pack and play, or Slumberpod, practice a few times before leaving for vacation. This allows your child to become familiar with this new sleep space.


  • Consistency is key! Follow the same routines for naps and bedtime as you do at home. This will allow your child to feel more comfortable in the new sleep environment. 
  • If your child falls asleep independently at home, allow them to do the same while you travel. If they are struggling, you can provide extra support as needed. 


Sleeping on an Airplane

It can be challenging to have children sleep on an airplane. You may have witnessed  babies that are upset the entire flight before. It can be very stressful for the parents and the child when the expectation is that your child should be sleeping at a certain time. It is important to remember to be flexible and give yourself grace. Here are a couple of things you can do to try and get your child some sleep during your flight.

Baby Sleep:

  • Do whatever you need to do to get them to sleep (feed, rock, hold, bounce, etc.) Remember this is short term and will help to maintain your mental health on the flight.
  • Bring the sound machine and sleep sack
  • Pack toys to keep them entertained during their wake times

Toddler Sleep:

  • Bring familiar items from home such as their favourite blanket, lovey or pillow
  • You can assist your toddler to sleep by rocking or holding if necessary
  • Bring snacks, toys, iPad/tablets, colouring, playdoh, books, stickers, etc., to keep them occupied

Try not to stress if your child didn’t sleep on the plane. It is very common for them not to sleep. This might have your child feeling overtired when you get to your destination, so keep this in mind when they become irrational. They will benefit from an earlier bedtime, if possible, to allow them to recoup lost sleep. Set up your child’s sleep space with them. They will love to be a part of the process!


Time Zones

To hop right into the new time zone, you might need to offer a cat nap to get to bedtime. You can help your child adjust to the new time zone by going outside and soaking up the sunlight. Natural light signals our bodies that we should be awake. This will help to build sleep pressure.


Overall, Manage Your Expectations

Traveling with young children can be a lot to juggle. If you manage your expectations ahead of time, things will feel less stressful. You will enjoy your vacation much more if you expect the following:

  • It can take a couple of days to adjust to a new sleep environment
  • Night wakings may occur, even if they don’t at home. This is common. 
  • You may need to support your child to sleep at the beginning. Try to avoid introducing new sleep associations that you do not want to continue going forward. 
  • Pack all the familiar items to make your child feel safe and secure in their new sleep space
  • Follow the same routines for naps and bedtime like you do at home. This helps to maintain a predictable and consistent routine. 

Planning your next trip and want some one-on-one support? Book a 30-minute call with MetaSleep Consulting and they will guide you on how to manage sleep on your next trip so you can enjoy your vacation to the fullest! 

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