With so many family friendly options now offered in Southeast Asia’s top holiday destinations, parents increasingly travel further from home to enjoy some quality with their children. Private villas on Phuket, Koh Samui or Bali are the perfect choice for a family holiday, but long haul travel also comes with its challenges. Here are some suggestions to make the time zone transition a little easier for the kids, and by default the parents too.
Everyone suffers from jet-lag after a long haul flight, but fortunately when your destination is a private villa on a tropical island, the effects are immediately reduced by the soothing nature of the final destination.
Jumping into your private pool, no matter the time of day or night, is a sure way to wash away the long journey and when there’s a delicious meal waiting – prepared by your own personal chef – the legacy flavours of in-flight food quickly fade away.
For families that have faced the challenge of a long haul flight with the kids, however, the prospect of dealing with grumpy offspring when the holiday begins in earnest can quickly take away the joy of arriving in paradise – even when the surroundings are sublime. It’s therefore best to plan ahead and be ready to make a few adjustments early in the holiday to avoid any lasting effects.
The five approaches listed here have been tried and tested by parents around the world and proved very successful in limiting the negative influence of sudden time zone changes on children and cults alike.
Prep on the Plane
Long haul flights with kids can be difficult, especially with the added concern of upsetting other passengers without kids, but there are few tactics you can employ to reduce the stress for you and your children. Booking a night flight is generally helpful as the kids will sleep for much of the journey and it’s also a good idea to carry supply of snacks to diffuse any tantrums before they escalate. Following bedtime routines can also help, such as having your kids change into their pyjamas and brush their teeth before you read them a bedtime story on the plane.
Know what to Expect
Research suggests that it takes four to five nights for children to adjust to a new time zone, so you should plan your trip based on this assumption. With a conscious approach to compensation, of course, the effects of jet-lag on the little ones will ease faster and it’s also important to remember that you also will be affected and therefore to go through the adaptation process with them.
Lighten the Load
Just like adults, children (even babies) respond well to sunlight when it comes to time zone changes and luckily there’s no shortage of healing rays in places like Thailand and Bali. It is important to make sure the whole family gets into the daylight groove of the destination as soon as possible, and if this means dragging them (and yourself) out of bed on the first morning, so be it. It is also a good idea to make sure you watch the sunset together, which again should not be a hardship on a tropical island. Then once the sky is dark, put the little ones to bed at their usual hour and make sure the room is as dark as possible through the night, or at least as dark as they are used to at home.
Eat through Time
As soon as you wake up on the first morning of the holiday make sure family meals are set based on local time rather than calculating the equivalent hour back home. Research also suggests it’s a good idea to make sure the kids eat plenty during the day and even have a snack close to bed-time so they don’t get hungry during the night. Just be careful the late night snacking doesn’t become a trend and avoid junk food as processed foods with high chemical or sugar content may well make the problem worse.
Stay Active & Outdoors
Expending energy through physical activity is one of the best ways to rebalance the body and mind quickly when you’re adjusting to a new time zone and families staying in a private villa have ample opportunity to get active from the very first day of the stay. Whether it’s splashing about in the villa’s private pool, kicking a ball around on the lawn or exploring the beach and swimming in the sea – a little exercise will go a long way. Of course, the kids will want to keep up the fun and games well after the jet-lag fades and with the great weather and inspiring natural surroundings, why not make the most of island life?
by MAX VEE