Navigating sleep routines for little ones on the go can be a challenge, so we’ve gathered insights from founders and healthcare professionals to ease your travels. From sticking to home time zone schedules to maintaining familiar bedtime rituals, discover the top four strategies to keep your kids well-rested while exploring new destinations.

  • Stick to Home Time Zone Schedules
  • Utilize Early Morning Departures
  • Bring Comforting Items from Home
  • Maintain Familiar Bedtime Rituals

Stick to Home Time Zone Schedules

For our son (5 years old), we are very regimented about his sleep routine when we travel. When we travel outside of our time zone, we maintain him on the same sleep-wake schedule as per our home time zone.

For instance, when we were in NYC for Christmas, we were two hours ahead of our home time zone, and we started his bedtime routine at 7 p.m., but in NYC, we started his routine at 9 p.m. and would let him sleep in until about 8-8:30 a.m., which corresponded to his usual wake time at home of 6-6:30 a.m. We would also bring books and other items that he is accustomed to sleeping with at home with us, including playing the same background relaxing music that we would at home.

He has been traveling with us since he was 4 months old, and we have maintained the same principles, and this has always allowed him to sleep well when we travel.

Ruchir PatelRuchir Patel
Founder and Medical Director, The Insomnia and Sleep Institute of Arizona

Utilize Early Morning Departures

For long road trips, our family likes to leave super early in the morning. While the kids retain their normal sleep hours (somewhat normal), I can knock out the first leg of a long journey. Putting them to bed late the night prior to a trip, and waking up before the sun to sneak them into the car, has helped me log many miles while the kids catch Z’s in their car seats.

If traveling by air, my suggestion would be to incorporate some of those visual cues your child associates with bedtime. We never travel without some favorite books, stuffed animals, and noise machines, so the children get the hint when it’s time to sleep.

When worse comes to worst, I sacrifice napping and try to avoid too much sleeping during the daylight hours. Will my child be tired and cranky? Perhaps—but I think it’s more crucial and refreshing for my kids to get a good night’s rest, ready to start vacation on a high note. We’ll have time to hit reset the next day and get back into our normal routine.

Amy JohnsonAmy Johnson
Founder and Blogger,

Bring Comforting Items from Home

I often get this question when planning trips for my clients: Kids lose sleep when they can’t sleep in their usual spot. The key is to take something that comforts them, even at home. It could be a stuffed animal, a special blanket, a special outfit, a storybook, etc. Create a comfortable environment around them, dim the lights, and reduce noise as much as possible. Familiar things around them make them feel safe and secure so they can stick to their routines as much as possible.

Maarten CoxMaarten Cox
Director, Gecko Routes

Maintain Familiar Bedtime Rituals

Keep their bedtime routine consistent, no matter where you are! Kids love routine and predictability, so stick to those familiar bedtime rituals, even in a new place. Whether it’s reading a bedtime story, having a cozy bath, or chatting about their day, these routines help signal that it’s time to relax and sleep well.

Diane HowardDiane Howard
Rn and Founder, Esthetic Finesse

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