Lifestyle Guides

How to Prepare for an Overnight Trip with Toddlers: Best Tips For Newbies!

How to Prepare for an Overnight Trip with Toddlers:

Having toddlers is one of those things that just warrants unwanted attention, isn’t it? Whether it’s from the people sitting in front of you at the restaurant, the check lady at your local grocery store, or the little old lady walking down the street that ALWAYS says “Well, you’ve got your hands full don’t you?” They all have one thing in common – they look on with unwanted stares, judgmental eyes, and the fleeting thought of “at least I’m not that lady”.

Well, you know what, disgruntled onlookers? I choose not to live my life as a hermit just because my baby is teething, and my toddler is in the food throwing stage. I WILL get my own groceries, sit down at a restaurant, and yes even go on the occasional overnight trip with toddlers. Because quite frankly, we all deserve a break sometimes!

So, to all my fellow brave hearts with young toddlers, I say get out there! But if you’re an adventurer and not a complete lunatic, some planning will be required. With the right tools, the correct gear, and A LOT of patience, it’s possible to have a bit of fun. Read on for our latest travel tips on “How to Prepare for an Overnight Trip with Toddlers”:

1. Plan Ahead for Travel Times

A picture of my toddler sleeping on an airplane heading to our first Overnight Trip with Toddlers!

When you’re dealing with toddlers, I found my biggest struggle was balancing nap schedules. But whether you’re taking a plane, train, or a car to your destination, try to coordinate the bulk of your travel time with the time your child is typically asleep. This way you’re not forced to entertain your restless child for the entire duration of the travel period. A sleeping or sleepy child is much less rambunctious than one who has pent up energy! How to prepare for an overnight trip with toddlers without multiple meltdowns? Make sure everyone is well rested!

If you’re dealing with multiples, always plan to leave during at least one of the kids’ nap times. If possible, stretch your youngest’s wake window a bit (don’t get me started about wake windows, but reference Taking Cara Babies with questions) to get it closer to your eldest’s nap time. Make sure they are well fed beforehand and BAM! You’ve got a (mostly) silent car/plane ride. You are welcome.

2. Bring Comfort Items from Home

A picture showing comfort items that are essential for How to Prepare for an Overnight Trip with Toddlers

Bring comfort items from home to assist with the sleeping during travel period as well as the nighttime routine for your toddler. Comfort items are essential for how to prepare for an overnight trip with toddlers! They will help your child have something familiar during your overnight stay with your kids as well as something to play with during down periods. Think “favorite stuffy, blanket to snuggle AND play peek-a-boo, etc)

3. Pack Essential Car and Hotel/Guest Room Toys

small packable toys on an overnight trip with toddlers

Whether you’re staying with family/friends or in a hotel or resort with your toddler, small portable toys are not something to skimp out on. When we are traveling we make sure to choose a destination that has lots of things to do and see for a toddler. Walking around a small town with Christmas lights, indoor pools at the hotel, local parks, etc. are all great options.

But, this isn’t always possible especially if staying with friends/family. So when preparing for an overnight with toddlers, be sure to pack lots of easily packable toys. Small cars, mini playsets, and coloring books all fit well into a backpack and can entertain your toddler during your overnight stay for long periods of time!

Since we’re a no tablet house (no judgement, just not for us), we rely heavily on drawing pads and coloring books. Just a bonus that you can’t lose the attached pen for a drawing pad on the floor of the car while your child frantically screams. Check out our favorite here: Kids LCD Drawing Pad

4. Pack Extra Clothes, Extra Diapers, Extra EVERYTHING

Everyone says to pack an extra set of clothes for each day that you’re there. I say NO – pack an extra set of everything for everyday you’re there, then maybe pack some more. You do not want to be that parent driving around a random town at bedtime looking for a place to buy diaper cream you ran out of. Its just not worth the struggle.

How to prepare for an overnight trip with toddlers and not miss anything? Just dust off the extra suitcase and pack everything you think you might need and more! Then enjoy some peace of mind that if your child randomly gets poison ivy in the dead of winter, you’re covered. When preparing for an overnight trip with toddlers, there’s no such thing as being over-prepared.

packing for an overnight trip with toddlers

5. Preparing for An Overnight With Toddlers: Consider Meal Time Needs!

Toddlers are notoriously picky-eaters. Whether you have the chicken nugget kid or the noodles-only kid, every toddler seems to have some type of preference or safe food they prefer to be available during meal-times. I am NOT saying to bring your child his/her own meal during a vacation or overnight stay. No child needs this level of catering too, I promise. What I AM saying is that toddlers are much more tantrum prone during times of unfamiliarity and routine disruption.

So, when thinking “How to Prepare for An Overnight Trip with Toddlers”? Try to plan ahead for meal-time tantrums by packing a favorite snack in your bag to have if the food available just isn’t cutting it for your little one.

Don’t forget to throw a small fork, spoon, and sippy cup in your bag if your toddler usually uses a smaller utensil or lidded cup during mealtimes. The more familiarity during an overnight stay with your toddler you can offer, the better.

toddler meal time during overnight stay

6. Plan for One Energy-Burning Activity Before Settling In

As I mentioned before, I know this isn’t always an option. Of course choosing a destination that has a given activity for toddlers is ideal, but not always possible for all overnight trips with toddlers. But by planning ahead for just one energy-burning activity before settling into your room for the night with your little, you can save yourself a lot of headache! A toddler that has had a chance to burn some energy is more likely to fall asleep faster, sleep in later, and (hopefully) but up less of a fight when it comes to STAYING in bed in the night.

how to prepare for an overnight with toddlers - walk in the park!
Walk in a nearby park is a great option when it comes to “How To Prepare for an Overnight With Toddlers!” Just be sure to research what your destination has to offer ahead of time.

Great Free Activity Options While Preparing for an Overnight With Toddlers:

  • Utilize the indoor hotel pool if applicable
  • Simon-Says Game – Focus on jumping jacks or anything to get their body moving!
  • Walking to a close-by destination or restaurant
  • Stop by the local park
  • Have a In-the-room dance party – courtesy of whatever music you have on your phone!

Don’t forget to book your room through a reputable source (especially when overnighting with toddlers!)

7. Try to Maintain a Familiar Bedtime Routine

Even when on an overnight stay with your toddler, try to maintain a somewhat familiar bedtime routine. If you typically brush teeth, read a story, and play white noise; then continue this while on your trip. Even if the time needs to be moved a bit to accommodate necessary activities, the routine will help signal to your toddler that it’s bedtime. 

A familiar bedtime routine will not only assist in getting your toddler settled in for the night in an unfamiliar place, but it will also help you keep a decent hold on your routine once you return home as well. 

8. Pack a Slumberpod for One-Room Sleeping

Seriously, if you’ve never slept in a hotel room with a toddler, you just simply do not understand the insanity of tiptoeing around in the dark at 7PM while you desperately attempt to find your pajamas. Just to then lay in the dark looking at your phone from 7PM until a reasonable time for an adult to fall asleep. Been there, will never be there again. How to prepare for an overnight trip with toddlers successfully AND get to enjoy the trip yourself? Plan ahead for one-room sleeping and pack a Slumberpod!

slumberpods on our overnight trip with toddlers
Take a look at our duel Slumberpods in the back that make room sharing on vacation with your toddler a breeze!

The Slumberpod is essentially a blackout tent that goes easily around a Pack N’ Play (or any portable cot really) and allows for a pitch black space for your baby/toddler. Set it up, turn on your white noise, and you’re good to actually enjoy some me time. Parenting WIN. The material is incredibly breathable and actually blocks out 90% of light.

P.S. The EASIEST travel white noise machine available in our shop!

9. Don’t Be Afraid to GO!

Yes, it will be stressful. It will be a lot to pack. There will be tears and times of frustration. But don’t you already have those days at home too? Go out and make the memories. Because there will also be tons of laughter, smiles, and days that you will truly never forget. And remember, don’t worry what other people think. You’ll never have to see them again in your life anyways!

toddlers in hotel for overnight stay

So, to my fellow moms and dads out there, a tip to you. Your life didn’t stop when you had kids, it just requires a bit more planning now. Go out there and make the memories with your toddlers! It is worth the struggle, I PROMISE!

How to Prepare for an Overnight Trip with Toddlers FAQ’s

  • Plan travel times strategically around naps/downtime
  • Pack comfort items & small easy-to-transport toys for entertainment
  • Pack sippy cups and your toddlers favorite snacks
  • Maintain your consistent bedtime routine
  • Plan for room-sharing with the right gear

Love it? Pin it!

How to prepare an overnight trip with toddlers

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through one of my links on this page, at no cost to you! Happy Shopping!

Share On Social

(9) Comments

  1. I especially like the Slumberpod idea, great post!

  2. EMPHASIS on packing extra for sure!! I haven’t heard of the slumberpod before tho! That’s genius!

  3. Hello,

    Music download private server MP3, FLAC, LIVESETS, Music Videos.

    Team 0day

  4. Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this article plus the rest of the
    site is also really good.

  5. All such helpful tips! It’s always important to prepare and overpack with some essentials! Thanks for sharing your packing tips!

  6. It’s pretty weird that people can be judemental about this kind of thing. Of course you need to get out and about without being judged! How else would the little’uns ever learn!?

    But OMG, the Slumberpod is such a fab idea!!

    1. My thoughts exactly! Little ones deserve adventures too!

  7. These are great tips. The idea of extra everything is important, especially at that age.

  8. Great post for showing parents that with a little extra preparation, families with young kids can have adventures too! And sometimes, you just have to get in the car and go. Also, to echo what everyone else said, love the Slumberpod!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Select Wishlist