Parents who travel with kids know that sleep quality is one of the most important factors in making happy memories on vacation. As a mom of two kids (one toddler and one baby), I’ve come up with a travel sleep system to make for well-rested kids and parents! In addition to the gear mentioned in this post, I also find it’s important to stick to your normal bedtime routine as much as possible. For us, that means a bath, brushing teeth, and getting dressed in jammies. Then we read a few stories, say bedtime prayers, and sing a song. We try to stick to roughly the same bedtime, depending on the time change and length of trip.
Travel Sleep System Essential Gear:
- Travel crib
- Hatch Baby Rest
First you’ll need a travel crib. You could bring your own, but if you have access to one where you’re staying, you may want to leave yours behind for sake of lighter packing (even one less thing makes a difference when traveling with kids!). We have found that most hotels provide a decent basic travel crib. We bring our own sheets to provide familiarity. When visiting family and friends, we have been fortunate to often be able to borrow a travel crib as well. If we do need to bring our travel crib, we have the Fisher Price Ultra Lite Playyard. It’s similar to the Lotus Travel Crib, which seems to be the travel crib for families who love to travel but is more expensive. Ours is lightweight and easier to set up than any other travel crib we have seen, but doesn’t pack up as small as the Lotus.
Next, enter the SlumberPod. This item is a GAMECHANGER. We borrowed it at a friend’s house and were so impressed that we ordered one as soon as we got home. The SlumberPod is basically a breathable, black tent. The idea is to provide a dark place for baby to sleep even if he/she is in your room. This way, you can actually leave the lights on and do things while baby is sleeping. The SlumberPod packs up very compactly and could fit into a suitcase or be carried separately while traveling (it comes in a small tote).
While the SlumberPod is excellent for an infant, we have also found that it worked well for our toddler. We placed it over a mat and he was very excited about his personal sleep fort. We have even contemplated buying a second SlumberPod so each of our kids has one when we travel, but they are currently completely out of stock in the US.
If you normally use white noise for your children, the Hatch Baby Rest is a worthwhile purchase. It is a sound machine and night light that can all be controlled from an app on your phone (or from the device). It is small, packs easily, and is simple to set up wherever you are traveling. Now that we have one, we bring it everywhere we go. There are several different sounds, but we use the TV sound, which is most like traditional white noise. The night light is useful to get in and out of a dark room without tripping over things. It was also essential for middle of the night nursing sessions for smaller infants – I turned it on 1% and had just enough light to get the baby up and fed without waking him (or myself!) up.
For what it’s worth, if the Hatch Baby Rest Plus had been out when we bought our Baby Rest, I probably would have purchased it instead. For $30 more, it has everything the original Baby Rest has, plus an audio monitor, backup battery, clock, and connection to wi-fi.
Finally, a great easy to travel with baby monitor is the VTech Digital Audio Baby Monitor (if you have the Baby Rest Plus, you may be able to skip this as it includes an audio monitor). The VTech monitor is small and super easy to set up anywhere you go. The sound quality is great and it works up to 1000 feet. If you’re staying somewhere where the little ones will be in a separate room, having an audio monitor allows for some freedom in your evenings and during nap times. Bonus, it is under $20!
We’ve been traveling with kids for three years now and while we may not have all the answers, we can vouch for these items and rate them all as ESSENTIAL to good sleep while traveling. Disclaimer: I’m not being paid to promote these products. We just love them!
Do you have any tips for ensuring great sleep while traveling? Please share in the comments!