There are a few things that have helped E feel more comfortable in strange environments:
After she turned 2 we got this AeroBed Sleep Tight Inflatable Bed for Kids. It has a cozy fleece cover/sheet which is the only texture that makes her comfortable. Although she can't have her own bed at least she can have the consistency of her own travel bed. I have fallen asleep in it too when trying to help her fall asleep. It's very comfortable. I've learned from past experience in buying full size air mattresses that the extra cost of the AeroBed brand is worth it. I bought other similar mattresses at half the cost but they were not at all comfortable. On an AeroBed you can really get a good night's sleep. Setup is quick and easy with the included pump. Just plug it in and it's ready within a minute or two.
|AeroBed Sleep Tight Inflatable Bed For Kids|
Something that has been a HUGE help in getting E to sleep both at home and when traveling is a sound machine. The Brookstone one we have is nice because it operates both on A/C power and on batteries. Power outages do not interrupt our sleep! It also has a locking feature so it doesn't run the batteries down in transit. You can even record your own custom sound on this one.
|Brookstone Travel Clock Sound Therapy Machine|
|Cloud B Gentle Giraffe On the Go Travel Sound Machine|
The third item that has until recently been a necessity for E is blackout shades. They are easy to pack and I just throw in a handful of clothespins for easy installation wherever we are. Thankfully she will now stay asleep past dawn if she is really tired, but from ages one to three-and-a-half she simply would not sleep if it wasn't dark. I hope you don't struggle with this problem, but if you do, blackout shades are a life saver.
|Eclipse Blackout Panel|
Of course a pillow and blanket from home are a tremendous help. I love Pillow Pets for their cuteness, but they really are too big to serve as a comfortable pillow and aren't very convenient for traveling. We pack E's regular toddler pillow in with the AeroBed and bring Lilly the Ladybug with us on the plane. A full-size blanket zips right inside to create a pillow/pet. There is a collar around the neck and we use a Mini Carabiner to attach it to our backpack so it doesn't take up valuable packing space.
|Lilly the Ladybug 3-in-one Zoobie Pet|