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How to plan for Jet-lag and Illness while traveling

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Have you ever traveled to a destination and then couldn’t enjoy half your trip because of jet-lag? Then you get home and struggle to get back on track to your normal schedule? It can be a double whammy.

We have! We’ve traveled a lot over the years. I’m not just talking about our travels since going full-time in 2016. 

I remember the first time Shawn and I flew to Greece. We were so tired those first few days but were on a schedule with a tight agenda. We were with a large group from Scentsy (we’d earned an incentive trip and it was our first time to Europe.)

We even extended our stay to visit Italy. 9 days in total and each day was Go Go Go because we had to pack in as much as we could get in.  Who knew when we’d ever get to experience a trip like this again!

One day, in Rome, Shawn and I just looked at each other and said we didn’t want to go out and do anything. We were exhausted. We closed the shutters and slept for like 15 hours. 

Then, when we got home to our kids, we were back on THEIR school and life schedules but our jet-lag was killing us. It took a full week to get back on track. 

One of the things I’ve learned about flights that are 9+ hours or days of 15+ hours of travel – is that we will have some jet-lag. Sometimes just a day and sometimes…days. 

Because of this l, I always make sure that our initial destination is a large city and we are there for at least a week. 

When you travel that far and only have a few days in a place or have to just keep hopping around, I find that we are all stretched too thin and people get cranky. 

It was that way with just Shawn and I alone. It was that way when we traveled with Sam and Alex for 16 months around the world. It is that way for us traveling with Sebastian too. 

Since we travel full-time and have no real time or location constraints, we have the luxury of staying in one location for a week or longer. 

Why a week?

Here’s and example of why.

We flew from Seattle to Athens via a 10hr flight to Frankfurt Germany with a 4 hour layover snd then a 4hr flight to Greece. 

We arrived at 10pm in the evening with a 10hr time difference and it took an hour to get to our AirBnb.

In the taxi, Sebastian was slapping the windows chanting (because he was being extra dramatic), “Let me out! Let me out!”  We we’re all pooped and on fumes. 

We like to force ourselves to stay awake and to sleep during the hours of our arrival city. That’s the easiest way to usually avoid bad jet-lag. Sometimes though, your body and mind have other plans. 

We were still on Seattle time when we got to our AirBnb in Athens at 11:30pm and forced ourselves to be in bed by 1am (as we were compelled to unpack and get situated. I had to take Benadryl to fall asleep or I’d never have slept at all that first night. 

It normally only takes us about 2 days to fully integrate and get on a good sleep schedule.

7 days in Athens would give us lots of time to get adjusted and then still have 5 days to explore. That was our plan, and it was and is a good one. 

But, what is also a problem is that, Sebastian and I got colds and mine hit me during the end of our first flight. Then Sebastian started with the runny nose. FML!

Traveling with a toddler is already fun but you throw jet-lag and then a cold on top of it and you realize how much this 7 day plan is a life saver. I was so thankful that I hadn’t planned on 3 days here and then most of it wouldn’t have been enjoyed or we would’ve pushed hard through it and not have rested. 

The thought of island hopping while still adjusting to the time zone change, with a cold and a cranky toddler who only wants his mom – sucks. I just wanted to get some sleep and stop leaking snot. I didn’t want Sebastian strapped to my back trudging through Athens in 100 degrees while miserable and tired. 

If you plan to spend extra days in a city before you head out to really enjoy your trip, being in a place that has food delivery, grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants close; will make your life easier on yourself and your family. We’ve had several deliveries so far and it’s saved us from dragging a Whitney 3 year old out to a restaurant in the heat while he’s leaking snot. 

Our first few days in Athens weren’t ideal but I’d planned for this. We are all recovering from our colds. We know we caught it in Seattle because Alex got sick at the same time with the same symptoms so we know it wasn’t from traveling. We are all blaming the Toddler. 

I’m still struggling with getting on a good sleep schedule. Sebastian is all assimilated and Shawn has had some normal, and then off, nights sleep wise. 

We are taking a day in our AirBnb Today because it’s hot as balls here (over 100) and we just want to get better before we head to our island adventures in a couple days. 

We’ve already walked all over and explored and eaten all kinds of foods. We’ve been here before and don’t need to do all the touristy stuff because we’ve already done it. Like visiting the Acropolis, Parthenon, Olympic Stadium, etc. 

Anyway, if you have the luxury of either long term travel or staying a few extra days in your 1st destination then I highly suggest it. 

What have you learned from your travels?  Have you figured out how to avoid jet-lag?  Does one of you have a harder time adjusting than another?  I’d love to hear from you. 

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