Traveling can be tough on kids, which makes it tough on parents, too.
When you’re staying at a hotel it can be hard to get comfortable, especially for little ones. But there are lots of ways to bring a bit of home with you – without bringing your whole house along – that will help your kid feel more at ease and get a better night’s sleep.
Bedding. You certainly don’t need to bring a full bedding set, but don’t you sleep better with your own pillow or a blanket that smells like home? For kids who crave consistency and routine, these homey touches can make a bland hotel room much more appealing.
Bedtime routine. With all the rushing around we do on vacation it’s easy to skip the bedtime routine and just throw our kids in bed at the end of a long day. But taking the time to go through that familiar routine can help kids transition to sleep much easier. Even if it’s later than usual, take a few minutes to read a book, sing a song, or whatever your child looks forward to before drifting off to dreamland.
Loveys. Most kids have something they sleep with each night that gives them comfort. Miss O sleeps with tiny blankets (really just old burp cloths) and a jungle full of stuffed animals. When we travel she’s allowed to pick 2 to bring with her.
Pictures. Any pics that feel like home are a great addition to boring hotel rooms. Pictures of your little one as a baby, friends and family, or even some kid-made artwork can add to that home-like mood. This one by Fracture is guaranteed never to break, which makes it great for travel.
Night light. Hotels can be really scary to little kids. They have strange noises, they’re darker (or brighter) than home, they smell different, the shadows look funny… Bring your little one’s night light to give just another touch of home.
Snacks. Sure there are plenty of places to get snacks on vacation, but they’re usually not very good for you and massively marked up. Bring your own snacks, the ones your tot likes at home, to save some money, have some healthy options, and give you all a taste of home.
Breakfast. Save some money and get your day off to a good start by bringing breakfast from home. At our house we have cereal or frozen waffles for breakfast each day, so I bring a box of our cereal along to start our day as normally as possible.
Favorite toy (within reason). Chances are you’re going to have some down time on your trip. Give your kids something familiar to play with by letting them choose a favorite toy to bring along. Obviously you don’t want to bring the Barbie Dream Castle, but a favorite toy is just another way to bring along a bit of home.
Favorite movie. Have a quiet evening or afternoon with a favorite family movie from home.
Family traditions. If Friday night is always pizza night and you always play board games on Tuesday, try to keep those traditions on vacation. Find a local pizza place to try and throw a pack of Uno cards in your suitcase to keep up those cherished weekly activities.
Outlet Covers. If you’ve got a little one who’s still curious about holes, bring along a box of outlet covers. It’s not exactly a homey touch, but it will help you relax a bit more knowing there’s one less thing for you to worry about.
Of course you don’t have to bring everything on this list. You can pick and choose what’s going to make your kid feel most comfortable. You may want to bring more if you’re going on a longer trip, a little less for a shorter one. Go through your itinerary and decide what makes sense for you. Bedding might be a priority if you’re going to be sleeping in different locations each night, but setting up pictures every day might be too much a of a hassle.
And don’t forget that at the end of the day what’s going to make your kids most comfortable is you. When mom and dad are relaxed and enjoying themselves, kids pick up on it. Remember that every kid is going to have a different reaction to traveling. Respecting their needs is the best way to have a great, drama-free trip.
What do you bring with you to help your kids feel at home on the road? Share in the comments.