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Blog: Traveling With Kids
Is jet lag looming on your horizon?

I've been pretty focused on planning for our trip to New Zealand.  We've organized the car seats (we're not taking them, but borrowing and renting them there), the port-a-cots (one for the North Island and one for the South Island), almost got the bedding sorted out so we don't have to carry anything, our itinerary is almost finalized we just have the grandmothers fighting over who is going to have us stay with them first!

We land in Wellington on a Friday and fly to the South Island on the following Tuesday.  One grandmother lives in Wellington and the other lives about an hour and a half north in Longbush.  We will be seeing both of them later on in our travels, but those first four days are still up for grabs.

It's tempting to jump into a hectic schedule right away, but there's bound to be some jet-lag.  Even though the time change between Los Angeles and New Zealand is only 3 hours, the long flight (about 12 hours) with less than the usual amount of sleep will guarantee all of us will be a little tired when we get there.  We'll need a few days to adjust to the time change and to catch up on some sleep.  The general rule of thumb is to allow one day per hour of time change, but it always seems harder adjusting traveling east to me.  This may have some legitimacy according to the Wikipedia entry on jet lag.

There are some things you can do to help with the time change.  One is making sure you get out into the sunlight or at least under bright lights during the day.  This helps to reset your own internal clock.  The second is taking melatonin.  Melatonin is a hormone that's produced in our bodies and it helps to regulate the sleep/wake cycle.  I'm even considering giving it to the kids after reading this article.  I haven't talked to my own doctor about this yet, but I will do so at our check up next week.

It's a good idea to try to adjust to the local time as soon as possible, going bed at your normal bedtime, local time not home time is a good start.  Try to get your kids to do the same.  The first time I traveled with Naomi, she was about 9 months old and I'd had no experience with what I should do.  We went to England, an 8 hour time difference.  I decided to let her sleep on her own schedule and let nature sort it all out.  Well, a week later, she was still no where near English time, waking up at some crazy hour of the night and her meal times were completely unpredictable.  She was getting her sleep, but I wasn't getting mine and I was getting crankier and crankier!  Subsequently, we've got her into the local time much more quickly, waking her up in the mornings, even if it's only for a while, so she can get some daylight to encourage her system to adjust.

The Wikipedia entry also suggests a good diet, plenty of fluids and some exercise will also help with jet lag.

Hopefully we've learnt and Ian's first major time change experience will be a little smoother! Hopefully as the holiday season looms and many of you will be making trips that do traverse time zones, these few ideas will make things easier.

posted on: 11/8/2007 1:00:00 PM by Katherine Macey
category: Travel

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Traveling With Kids

by Katherine Macey

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About Katherine:

Katherine Macey, Ph.D., is a professional organizer who is passionate about helping people improve their lives and achieve their goals. She works mainly with academics in their offices and with residential clients in their home offices.

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