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How to Get an Extra 20 Minutes of Sleep when Vacationing with Kids

A “Surprise Station” is just the ticket for entertaining children on vacation


If you were to read the first part of the title of this post before children, it’d probably make no sense at all. An extra twenty minutes of sleep? No problem! Weekends were meant for sleeping in, and so were vacations—back then, of course.


Now, twenty minutes are precious. Thirty minutes? Practically unheard of. And there’s something about vacations that encourage children to wake up even earlier. The excitement of exploring someplace new. The call of the beach and all the possible sandcastles, or jumping into and splashing around a refreshing pool. So how is a parent to get some sleep?

Let us introduce the Surprise Station. It’s so easy to do and will buy you a few extra minutes of shuteye.


A Surprise Station is simply a little creative play space of exciting things that your child can get into first thing in the morning.



As you probably already know, kids do a better job of entertaining themselves at home because they are comfortable there and are already surrounded by all their toys and books. But if you’re vacationing in a hotel or someone else’s home, chances are, there aren’t a lot of toys around. Creating a Surprise Station is the perfect alternative to keeping them entertained and happy.

A Surprise Station is best for children who already play independently at home, around 4 to 7 years old. Set the station up the night before after they’ve gone to bed. It can be super simple and doesn’t have to be super involved. It is really just anything you can think of that will spark their curiosity—like laying out new markers and leaving them a note to draw their favorite part about vacation so far, or making a list for a game of I Spy with their new surroundings. It can also be helpful to put out a cup of water and a piece of fruit. Even better if the type of fruit is different than what you can find back home, perfect for introducing them to new things and learning about their home away from home!


This saves from the early morning wake up call of questions (what to do, where’s the water, any snacks?) It might only buy you twenty minutes or so, but we promise, those twenty minutes will feel SO good.


And who knows—you might wake up to them having so much fun that you’ll be inspired to join in too!


What about you? Do you have any tips for traveling with children?



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