Managing your family’s jet lag

The other day I was chatting with one of the moms at my daughter’s school about her upcoming trip to Italy and how she was not sure if she should take her two kids along. She was a little worried on how they would react to the jet lag and I understand her well, because while we want our kids to go and explore the world, we also want them to feel comfortable and have an enjoyable time – and depending on the time difference it can be a bit complicated. I shared with her our experience with my daughter and then the idea to write a post about it came up.

Here are two ideas of how we try to minimize the jet lag impact to our family when we travel:

* Adjust “your time zone” to the one you are traveling to. While I can only talk to a time difference of 6 hours ahead of us and I can’t even begin how it is when you fly from Toronto to Manila (like my friend did and it took her kids 5 days to adjust to the new time zone when she went and when she came back!), my advice is don’t stop! Let’s say we had an overnight flight from Toronto to Paris, we landed there at 10am and we are obviously feeling sleepy/tired/cranky and very inclined to take a shower and fall asleep… but we would not do that! We would drop our stuff off at the hotel and go explore. Feel cranky? An ice cream or hot chocolate will cheer you up. Feel like you’re too tired to walk? Sit by a restaurant and have a long lunch or an early dinner. Is it 9pm yet? If it is, go to your hotel, take an awesome shower and sweet dreams! Worst thing that can happen is that you will not hear your alarm clock the next morning.

* Have a fun plan for the second day of your trip. While the idea of just hit the ground running and exploring non-stop is what we tend to believe we will do, reality is, the second day is when jet lag can really kick in and you’re as tired as the first day. Having that in mind, plan a fun, laid back day where you and your family can go out and explore but at the same time don’t feel the need of checking every single must see sight. Especially when traveling with kids, our experience shows that giving your little one a “home” feel might help, like finding that cartoon your little one likes and letting them enjoy it before you head out of the hotel – even though it is in a foreign language (to this day we can’t forget watching “Diego the Rescuer” in French and his theme song “…le click, c’est magique…” 🙂 . As silly as it may sound, it helps them “re-energize” and kick off an awesome day of exploring with you.

While we have these two ideas on how to manage jet lag, we know for a fact that the first and second days are tough. You will feel tired and it’s almost like you yawn every five minutes, but in the name of exploring and creating beautiful memories, it is worth it!

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