Sunday, September 1, 2013

Kids, Naps and Travel: A Survival Guide

A very dear friend recently asked me what my policy is on naps while we travel. (Unfortunately, she was not referring to whether or not I nap while we travel. The answer to that is whenever I get a chance, YES!) This is a huge dilemma for parents with young children like mine (4 and 1). Do you slow down and try to get them down for proper naps? Or plow through a full itinerary and hope they catch some zzz's in a stroller or in the car?

Snoozing while the traffic roars by on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

The answer for us is that it depends on lots of factors. Here are the things I consider when mapping out a nap strategy each day.

1) How many naps do the kids take each day? When Little Arrow was a baby and taking multiple naps, we made him nap on the go, which he was pretty good at. Now that he's down to one afternoon nap, it's easier to still see a lot of stuff but maintain that scheduled naptime back at our hotel or rental property.

2) Length of trip. If we're traveling for more than just 2-3 days, we make naps a big priority. Otherwise, our kids are just a mess halfway through the trip. If it's a short trip and there's a lot we want to see, we definitely consider the napping-on-the-go option.

3) Plans for later in the day. If we hope to eat at a nice restaurant, sightsee, or do a big activity in the late afternoon or evening, then again, napping becomes a big priority so that the kids are rested and better behaved. If we're just hanging out with no formal plans, then I lighten up about the schedule.

4) Where we're staying. Both my kids struggle to settle down easily in a hotel room. So if we're staying in a hotel, I tend to let naps happen on the fly instead of dealing with the struggle of getting them down in the room. If we're at a rental property (our strong preference when traveling), then I'm much more apt to return there for naps so that everyone (myself included) can rest. It's a big reason we tend to stay at those types of places.

Other factors you might consider? Personality of your child, how well they handle fatigue, how easily they sleep in strollers, carriers, cars or public transit.

Missing out on the drive through the Swedish countryside.
I think this is an issue so unique to each child, and frankly, each family. So I asked my fellow family travel bloggers for their thoughts on napping. Here's what they had to say:
I hope that their wisdom will help you in your napping and traveling adventures! Zzzzzzz....

This post is a part of Travel Tips Tuesday at Walking on Travels and Suitcases and Sippy Cups and Share Your Best at Two Kids and a Map.