Family vacations offer ample opportunity to spend quality time with your children that daily routines often prevent. Before you embark on your next family trip – especially if you have young children – it’s important that you take some time to plan out certain aspects of your journey. One of the most crucial things to prepare for is jet lag. When you have toddlers in tow, it can be a real challenge to get them out of bed or get them to fall asleep at night when your destination is located in a completely different time zone. If you’re traveling overseas for a vacation that lasts less than a few days, consider trying these tips to help your children get over jet lag fast.
Prepare Them Before You Leave
Booking a flight that leaves in the middle of the day is best, as you can arrive to your destination, spend an hour or two exploring, and then go to bed. However, an afternoon flight can be difficult to find, so a good alternative option is to get your children used to sleeping somewhere other than their beds. USA Today recommended bringing your children to a couple of sleepovers or short, overnight trips before you take them on your longer vacation. Becoming acquainted with the feeling of sharing a bed, sleeping in a foreign location or going to bed at different times will make sleeping easier for your kids once you’ve arrived at your destination. According to CNN, sleep specialist Russell Rosenberg, chairman of the National Sleep Foundation, strongly suggested trying to adjust your children’s bedtime at home to the bedtime they’ll have at the destination a couple of days before the trip. This is more effective than waiting for the first night of the vacation, as it’s unclear exactly how your kids will react to the time change. If their bodies don’t end up handling it well, you could be in for a rocky start to your trip.
Stick With The Local Schedule
Although it can be tempting to fall into the schedule you follow at home, it’s important to stay in tune with the local time when it comes to eating and sleeping. Food plays a major role in telling your body what time it is, according to Conde Nast Traveler. If you’re eating pizza at 5:00 in the morning, your internal clock will think it’s bedtime around noon. If you find your children are too tired to go on during the day and desperately need a nap, it’s best to make sure it’s not going to interfere with their night’s rest.”If the child must nap, try to limit it to 15 to 30 minutes,” advised Dr. Joseph B. Rosen, director of Sleep Medicine at Pediatric Pulmonary and Sleep Specialists in Dallas, as quoted by CNN. “Generally speaking, napping earlier in the day is better, as opposed to in the afternoon or evening, local time.”
Cater Your Itinerary Toward Jet Lag
If you have a day trip to a destination like Disneyland in mind, try to plan it for the second or third day of the trip. If you’re in a tropical area, take the first day or two to relax with your family and do all of the more low-key activities you have planned. Apply the same idea to your mornings, making sure that you give yourself and your kids an efficient amount of time to get up and get ready for the day at a leisurely pace. It’s okay to get out and see the sights at 7:00 a.m., but wait a couple of days for your family to get more in tune with the local time zone.