By Kylie Whyte
We all know that crossing time zones can be draining and it can take our bodies some time to adjust. But jet lag, or desynchronosis as it is known in the medical community, can also cause some unpleasant symptoms such as insomnia, upset tummies and fatigue to name a few. Luckily there are few things that you can do to help prevent it or get over it quicker.
Having just spent 2 months travelling abroad with a 2 year old, we have learnt some ways on how to readjust through time zones as fast as possible. Travelling with kids doesn’t always allow for a lot of downtime so it is important to be able to overcome any symptoms as quickly as possible. That being said, here are my recommended tips.
1.Prepare yourself and your family before you leave
Depending on whether you are losing or gaining time, try getting everyone to bed earlier if you are going to be losing time or later if you are gaining time. Make this a gradual process over a few days. It will help to make the adjustment a lot quicker when you do arrive at your destination and it will help to prepare your body to adjust. Obviously if the time difference is quite significant then you can’t make the entire adjustment, but even a couple of hours will make a difference.
2.Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
And make sure your kids are too! Dehydration is one of the biggest symptoms of jetlag and air travel is one of the quickest ways to get dehydrated. I know it can be more convenient to not drink too much so that you avoid the multiple trips to the plane toilets, believe me I have been there, but this will impact on how severely you may suffer jet lag. So if you want to avoid it, get well hydrated before you fly and keep hydrated during and after your flight as well. One good way to make sure the kids are drinking is to give them their own water bottle so you can monitor the amounts they are having.
3.On your flight
It can be useful to set your watch to the new time zone (that of your destination) as soon as you begin your flight. This helps your mind to adjust and you to be able to mentally prepare for the new time zone. During your flight, it can also be beneficial to sleep (or not) according to the time at your destination. If it is daylight at your destination when you are on the plane, try to stay awake, if it is night time, try to sleep. This will make your body’s internal clock change a bit quicker. Now I realise that this is not easy with kids, but if it is night time where you are going, do try to get them to sleep. Follow their bedtime routine on board as much as you can and when they do sleep, get as much shut eye as you can for yourself too. It all helps. Also, it can be helpful to eat closer to meal times at your destination. Airlines will serve food according to the time of your port of departure not your port of arrival so you may consider snacking lightly during the flight instead and eating during mealtimes at your destination.
4.Push through the daylight hours, get out in the sun and move
When you arrive at your destination, if it is daylight stay awake. Taking a nap before it gets dark will severely impact on whether you experience jet lag or not. Open the curtains and let the light in. What is more preferable though is to take the kids outside. Get them in the fresh air, in the sunlight. Get exercising too. Walking, running, playing…it doesn’t have to be formal exercise, just get moving. This will all actually help your internal body clocks to adjust a lot quicker and is a great boost to your immune systems too.
5.Food, glorious food
When you feel hungry, eat light meals according to meal times at your destination, at least for a day or so. Jet lag can cause digestive upsets as your digestive system also has to adjust to the new time zones. So eating large, rich meals will make it harder for your bodies to adapt. Your family may experience diarrhea or constipation which is not fun at the best of times, and will surely put a dampener on your holiday. Eat a protein rich breakfast the morning after you arrive at your destination. This will help with alertness for you all and help you to stay awake during the day too.
6. Stop overs
When travelling with kids, I would also highly recommend putting in a stop over if you are going to be losing or gaining a lot of time. It really helps when the kids can adjust to a smaller time difference first and takes less time for them to adjust to the full difference at your final destination. We always stop over in Dubai for a good couple of days when heading to the Uk or Europe. This really helps us to adjust as well as our 2 year old and makes for a much easier transition for everyone.
So the next time you travel, keep some of these tips in mind and I hope you enjoy all the wonderful things that travelling with kids has to offer, without experiencing any of the dreaded jet lag symptoms.
Taken from the March issue of Geek Parenting, out now!