Traveling to any destination with a time-zone change with children, can feel impossible and exhausting. Many families do decide not to venture to far from home, to avoid the disruption of routines and their sanity. However, you shouldn’t let the fear of jet-lag change your decision from deciding on going to that dream destination you’ve desperately been saving for, rather than settling for that holiday close to home. Here I have explained some of the best ways to tame your children’s jet lag, minimize the effects of time-zone travel and help save your family vacations.
Consider the age of your child…
Firstly, you should consider the age of your child…. Newborns – 2 months generally aren’t aware of their own sleeping patterns just yet, so jet-lag will most likely not impact them. Children who have already established a sleeping routine and sleep through the night are the ones who most likely get affected the most. You may experience more waking’s in the night which would be completely normal if you’ve travelled through time zones of a greater difference than 2 hours.
Older kids who no longer nap in the day, tend to respond similarly to adults physically, but are usually less driven than adults to stay awake in attempts to adjust to the new schedule. As children get older, they do learn to make adjustments like adults do, which makes time traveling less of an issue.
A good idea if your child is verbally capable, is to pre-warn and talk to them about the time zone changes you as a family are going to endure, which will somehow prep them slightly for the upcoming changes, that way it’s not such a shock to them when it does happen.
Flight planning is also a great way to improve jet lag, if you can fly during the day and avoid disrupting a good night sleep, then do it. Of course, understandably families do take into consideration cost and most of the time the cheaper flights, are the ones with the most terrible flying times, but if you’re on a budget sometimes the night flights or early mornings are the only options you have, which is fine if you are prepared.
For long international flights I recommend choosing a flight time that lands in your destination in the morning/midday, meaning you then keep the family awake all day to kick start adjusting to the new schedule. Try planning something exciting for the family that day, it’s always a great way to keep children occupied and entertained forgetting that they are even slightly tired, it is more likely they will then crash later on and sleep all night.
Enjoy the journey, not just the destination….
There are lots of products on the market that make traveling with children a whole lot easier, stress free and gets your children sleeping. After traveling with families all over the world, these two products have got to be my favorite especially during over night flights.
- Cozigo – Cozigo is a must have for flying and travel, it is a multifunctional airplane bassinet cover and pram sunshade cover. It helps to prevent inflight meltdowns and over tiredness from your baby when out and about. It is a universal fit for all bassinets, stroller types and airplane cots and improves babies sleep by upto 500%. Cozigo won most popular product in Australia’s mother and baby magazine in 2017 and has continual 5-star reviews. You can find this product at www.cozigo.com
- Plane-Pal – Plane Pal is a custom designed inflatable cushion that fills the space between your child’s seat and the seat in front. It is light weight and compact and comes with a pump for stress free, easy inflation after takeoff. This awesome product was designed with children 2- 8 years old in mind, as they can utilize it to its full potential, by stretching their legs out or lying flat. It has been approved on over 41 airlines making traveling with children stress free and more enjoyable. Plane Pal can also be used on trains and buses and for car travel. You can find this product at www.planepal.co.uk
Arriving at your destination…
When you’ve landed, getting straight into a schedule in the destination you are in, is important from day one. If you can do that, the family should be adjusted to the new time zone within 3-5 days depending on how long you are staying. Try and eat at the new local times instead of snacking all day, this will help prevent midnight feasts and having hungry children at 3am. Fill your day with activities to keep children entertained, they are more likely to last longer. A few days of that and you won’t even remember what jet lag feels like!
If your child cannot cope with staying awake all day and you feel they or you do need a catnap, that is okay, just ensure you or your child does not sleep for too long, as you could make bedtime all the harder.
Don’t forget when you return home, keep in mind your body clock will have to adjust back. Depending on the how far you have flown will depend on how fast your body will adjust. For international flights up to 8 hours’ time difference I would recommend scheduling in at least one recovery day, anything above 8 hours I’d give two days. However, some families have also found that sending their child/children back to school the day after they return off an international flight helps them get straight back into routine. With them being distracted at school with friends and activities, means when they come home they are so tired they then sleep all night, more or less adjusting straight back to normal schedule.
Just enjoy the time…
Always remember to let go of all expectations, not every time you travel will everything go to plan, this could include flight delays, lost baggage, or even just your child struggling to adjust to a new time zone despite all the preparation you have done to help them. Be sure that this is all okay and totally normal, make light of any situation and try and make your holiday the best it can be in any situation.