You know the old saying, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. There is no other circumstance in which this maxim rings any truer than when it comes to boarding a jet plane with your family.
There are many things to be considered when you take to the air to traverse multiple time zones. Often lost in the anticipation and excitement of arriving at your destination is dealing with the effect of jet lag on your kids and yourself.
In this post, we will share with you three key tips for each stage of your journey to ensure that you don’t need a holiday just to recover from your holiday!
Tip #1: Reset Your Clock
When it comes to dealing with the headwinds of jet lag in children, preparation or being prepared is only half the battle.
In the days leading up to your trip, travel and lifestyle consultant Lia Batkin suggests adjusting you and your children’s bedtime, “15 to 20 minutes toward the vacation time zone,” each night.
Fifteen minutes may not seem like much, but little things do mean a lot especially in helping to reset your internal clock.
Here are a few other suggestions that you may also find helpful:
- Like your children’s bedtime, gradually adjust your family meal schedule to align with your destination time zone.
- Avoid a “Home Alone” situation by being prepared and avoiding any last minute scrambles. After all, if you are relaxed your kids will be relaxed.
- Talk to your children in the days leading up to the flight to manage their expectations. Provide older kids with an in-flight plan and explain to them why they will have more fun on their trip if they follow it.
Tip #2: Your Flight Plan
While you cannot prevent jet lag, it is possible to make your flight comfortable and minimize its effects and duration by putting in the same time and effort you took to plan your vacation.
For example, La Jolla Mom suggests ordering your child’s meal in advance and limiting what they eat to basic foods such as a roll with butter and fruits. Once again, stick to the meal schedule that aligns with your destination.
As for drinking, irrespective of your age, it is easy to get dehydrated at high altitudes. A rule of thumb is to drink eight ounces of water for every hour you are in the air.
Besides eating and drinking, check out these other suggestions for your flight plan:
- On extended flights – especially those that are seven hours or longer – schedule a nap time that aligns with your child’s usual nap time back home. For older kids and yourself, having a snooze en-route is also a good idea. Noise-eliminating headsets and sleep masks can help to make sleeping easier.
- During waking hours, plan activities that will pass the time. Watching movies, reading books, and listening to music are all good options. For younger children, there a ton of activities to keep kids occupied during the flight.
Tip #3: Touching Down On the Tarmac
You planned your trip, you prepared for the journey, and now that you have arrived at your destination it is time to enjoy your holiday.
What is the first thing you do?
Go towards the light. Specifically, daylight. The reason for this is because sunshine or light will help your body to reset its internal clock automatically to sync up with your new time zone. Even if it is 2 in the morning back home, and you feel a bit sluggish, get outside for at least an hour.
In addition to daylight here are two other things you can do to help the reset your body clock and limit the effects of jet lag:
- While it may be 1 in the morning where you are now, it’s lunchtime back home. When your child wakes up saying they are hungry, they mean it. Instead of having them tough it out till morning, give them a light snack and some water. But whatever you do, don’t make a meal of it. Keep the lights out, and sit with them until they are finished, then tuck them in with a peck on the forehead and go back to bed.
- When in Rome do as the Romans do. Even if you may feel tired the first couple of days and after an extra ten minutes of sleep in the morning, get out of bed and start your day with all of the other locals. The sooner you are into a routine, the better.
Walk Your Talk
As you reflect on the above tips to help your kids with adjusting to a new time zone, you will recognize that they also apply to you as an adult.
So take this helpful advice and walk the talk by following your plan so that everyone will look back on what was the best family vacation ever.
One more thing to remember: use the same plan for your return home.