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Let’s talk about a subject particularly near and dear to my heart right now: jet lag. Depending on where you go, this is either a little issue or a huge one. Here are a few hints for dealing with it:

  • Put yourself on the local meal schedule as quickly as possible. Even if you arrive in California from the East Coast at lunch time, and find yourself not hungry, go sit down at a table and have an appetizer. Meals are crucial in resetting your body clock.
  • Sleep on the plane with an eye to your arrival schedule. For instance, flights to Europe from the US East Coast are typically overnight. On the return, you leave and arrive mid-day. We’ve found that sleeping on the way over, but staying awake on the way back, is the best way to deal with the initial jet lag. To the West Coast, we usually nap a bit, knowing that the first night is going to feel like a late one no matter what.
  • Get as much sunshine as possible on the arrival day and the next. Plan your museum or theater days for later in the vacation. Take a walk, too, as the exercise will really help your head. Pool time, if the weather permits, is awesome for the kids. Otherwise go find a park and let them run around for a while. If you plan for this in your schedule then it won’t seem like you are “wasting” time. As a matter of fact, local parks are great for “going native” and really getting to know your destination.
  • Decide ahead of time when naptime will be for your nappers, and do your darnedest to stick to it. Yes, they will nod off. Yes, they will be a little cranky. This is the time to indulge in a special snack or take an extra turn on the swing.
  • Know that the second day is the worst. The first day you will be cocky, think you “have this licked.” And then day two will kick your fanny. Plan for it, stick to the meal and nap schedule, and by day three you will be getting back to normal. (I’m currently dealing with day two fog on my return home. It’s awful, but I know a good night tonight will help a lot.)
  • Give yourself a couple of extra hours to sleep on that first and second night. Just in case. And when you wake up in the middle of the night, do everything you can not to turn the ipad on! A reading light and book will interfere with your sleep a lot less. Also, set an alarm just in case you sleep through breakfast time. Your goal is to get to local meal time.
  • Know your limits. If you absolutely need eight hours every night, then go to bed in plenty of time to get your hours in. Plan ahead for waking up in the middle of the night.
  • Don’t stress. Caffeine early in the day is your friend.

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Here’s to hoping I sleep really hard tonight! I’d love to hear any tips you’ve found helpful in dealing with this travel menace.