So now that you are ready to travel after yesterday’s pep talk, today we are going to talk about avoiding jet lag.
These are my two best ways to manage a time change (and avoid jet lag):
1. Set your watch to the new time zone as soon as possible.
The quicker you can get your brain thinking on the new time zone, the sooner your body will follow. Whether you are traveling to a time change of one hour or eight, set your watch to the new time right after you buckle your seatbelt on the plane. This will help you to change the way you think about mealtimes and sleep times and will help you to make the most of your vacation time. This will also help you think about how you should manage your flight time to get you assimilated once you land. Of course flying can be boring and sleep is always good, but too much sleep can lead to trouble adapting once you land. Which leads us to tip number two:
2. Assimilate to the new time zone as soon as possible.
Traveling far away to a very different time zone? Get your body on track to the new time as quickly as possible.
If you will be arriving in the morning, try to get some rest (and try to coax your kids to rest, too) during the flight. Most likely, your kids (toddlers on up) will not turn off the airplane’s complimentary entertainment system (if it is a long-haul flight) unless you make them. So be the mean mom and, after a few hours of fun after dinner, tell them it is time to turn the entertainment system off. Boredom will lull them right to sleep. If that doesn’t work, give them 10 minutes of reading time or looking at books and then explain that it will be lights out after that. And enforce it.
If you are traveling with a baby or toddler, just telling them to go to sleep doesn’t work as well. But do as many sleep inducing cues as you possibly can: Nurse or give your baby a bottle at sleep time. Change him or her into her pajamas. Give your child a blanket to snuggle with, read a story and do your best to cuddle and bring on sleep. If that doesn’t work, just do your best not to get frustrated and keep trying to be soothing. You might have to endure a few minutes of tears (or even have to walk the aisle with a restless baby), but the sleep that will come will be well worth it.
If you are arriving in the morning, plan an early evening activity which will force you to stay awake and then plan to sleep late the next day.
On our last trip to London, we arrived at about 7:30 in the morning, well before our hotel was ready for us. They allowed us to stow our bags, though, so we went off for some sightseeing right away. Once we were able to check in, we all took a two-hour nap in the afternoon, which was VERY hard to wake from, and then took in a play which started at 7 p.m. When we first woke after the nap, I thought our planning was a terrible mistake, but once everyone was up and out, the kids did well, we loved the play, went to bed late, slept late and never had any trouble with jet lag the entire trip. I am positive that was because we stayed up late the first night to make us sleep through the whole night and then got a great night’s sleep and dove right in to the rest of the week.
If you are arriving at night, it get’s a little trickier. Try to nap on the plane, but don’t sleep the whole time. And this goes for your children, too. Keep them occupied on the plane so they will stay awake be tired at nighttime, when you arrive. (Don’t worry… I’ve got 11 tried and true tips for beating boredom coming!) On that first night, do stay up later so that they will be sure to be exhausted when it is time to sleep. And then let them sleep later than usual the next morning, but not past 11 a.m.
If you or the kids are jet-lagged on the trip, allow for short naps, but do your best to get into the right sleep pattern for long sleeps right away.
Only traveling a few time zones away?
Still try your best to acclimate right away. Everyone will be happier if you still eat and sleep at the right times.
If it is a long trip and you feed strictly by the clock, adjust a bit each day. If it is just a weekend trip, consider going against what I’ve just said and stick to the old time zone’s schedule.
In both cases, remember that not only is your body clock confused, but your child’s is, too. Give him or her a little extra leeway and try to be a calming force until all the kinks are worked out. Some bodies bounce right into the new time zone and some don’t. Your best bet to get there, though, is to force assimilation as quickly as you can, and do the same on the way home.
Miss any days or want to know what’s ahead? Here are all 12 Days of Christmas Travel Tips on MomsTravelTales:
Day 2: The two best ways to manage a time zone change
Day 3: Three reasons to consider a hotel staycation in December
Day 4: Four ways to minimize stress on travel days
Day 5: Five ways to be a gracious overnight houseguest
Day 6: Six ideas for pampering overnight guests
Day 7: Seven people to tip when traveling (and how much)
Day 8: Eight tips for international travel
Day 9: Nine secrets for a great hotel stay with kids
Day 10: Ten things to keep in mind when flying with children
Day 11: Eleven tried and true ways to beat boredom while waiting
Day 12: Twelve things I’ve learned about travel with kids
Want to know more than just travel?
Swing by any of the other 7 sites during the 12 Days of Christmas and here’s what you’ll learn: (And these girls know their stuff!)
Christmas Homeschool Fun: 1+1+1=1
Christmas Decorations: Songbird
Tips for a Healthy Holiday: The Thrifty Mama
Saving Money: Surviving the Stores
Christmas Recipes: Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures
Christmas Family Fun: Life as Mom
Homemade Christmas Gifts: The Happy Housewife
Thanks for stopping by today!
So…. How do you beat jet lag or deal with a smaller time change? And what questions can I answer for you about family travel? Please let me know…