Jetlag is an inevitable (and totally crappy) side-effect of long-haul travel. But as bad as we think we have it, imagine how your baby feels, having no idea why it’s light out at sleepy-time, and why nobody else is full of energy in the middle of the night.
We’ve dealt with jetlag several times so far on our travel adventures with Charlotte. Here are our key survival tips:
1. Choose your flight time wisely: we flew from Toronto to Vienna when Charlotte was 5 months old. Our flight left in the early evening, and shortly after take-off Charlotte was fast asleep in the airline-supplied baby bassinet. We both slept most of the flight, and when we were woken up just before landing, it was our usual wake-up time in Vienna. Sure, the sleep wasn’t the greatest, but it was enough to get us through the day with minimal whining from everyone.
2. Be Flexible: after Vienna, we spent a week in St Petersburg. Being summer, and being so far north, the sun only started to set around midnight. Have you ever tried to sleep with the sun still shining, let alone convince your energetic baby that she/he should? Rather than force Charlotte (and ourselves) to sleep at our regular hour while the rest of the city was still out and about, we popped Charlotte in the stroller for a nap around 7pm, enjoyed a quiet romantic dinner while she slept, and then all went to bed together around midnight.
3. Use Day-time Naps Wisely: when we moved to Moscow when Charlotte was 9 months old, we made a big mistake: like Vienna, we’d flown overnight and slept most of the flight. But unlike Vienna, where we immediately hit the town, and where I didn’t let Charlotte nap too much more than her usual amount, as soon as we arrived in our apartment in Moscow, we all lay down for what was supposed to be a quick cat nap before heading out to Red Square. Four hours we woke up. And we felt great, well rested, ready to start our day. Except that it was 3 in the afternoon! And while J. and I understood enough to get to sleep (and stay asleep) at a fairly reasonable hour that night, Charlotte was totally thrown off, and it took days for her to figure out that neither Mom or Dad were getting up to play in the middle of the night.
4. Consider Sticking to Home Time: when we went to Berlin earlier this summer (Charlotte was 17 months old at the time), rather than trying to switch over to local time, we kept our regular schedule. This worked well since we were only there for a few days, and since it was only a two hour time difference. It was a bit more extreme when we recently stopped over in Ottawa on our way from Moscow to Beijing, and decided to try as much as possible to stick to our regular time zone to avoid a huge time change once we arrived in Beijing. This meant that Charlotte was sleeping by 1pm, and then up and ready for action by midnight. Not so convenient for all our visiting relatives! But strolling around downtown Ottawa at 3am was actually pretty cool, and having the entire supermarket to ourselves when we did our big pre-departure grocery shop in the middle of the night was really fun. And most importantly, jetlag upon arrival in Beijing was barely an issue.
What are some of your tips for dealing with jetlag?