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Anyone fly from Asia to West Coast with children

Anyone fly from Asia to West Coast with children

Oct 28th, 2004, 08:00 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 34
Anyone fly from Asia to West Coast with children

Message: Hi,

Does anyone have any personal insights on helping the kids better manage their:
- time during long trans-pacific flight
- minimize the impact of jet lag

We are flying for a 2 week holiday from Singapore to LA and back with our kids (5 & 8 years) next month. The kids have done a fair bit of travel with us in past but this would be the longest flight ever for them -14 hour, even with the new non-stop flight of Singapore Airlines.

My wife normally brings along some fun activities for kids to do during the flights but not sure how effective these would be, (even with the in-flight channels), on a 14 hour long flight! I know some people take pills to force sleep and adjust better to jet lags on such cross continent flights. But, I don't know whether that is advisable or even an option for kids.

Secondly, I know jet lag can not be avoided but does anyone have a insight to share on how to manage it better for kids. My worry is that in a short trip like this, the kids would be switching 16 hours timezone twice within less than 2 weeks. When they arrive in West Coast, they could take few days to overcome the jet lag and by the time they adjust somewhat to the Pacific time, it is time to be back in Singapore.

If you have done such, rather short, back and forth flying with kids, love to hear your experiences. Thanks.


shenwai is offline  
Oct 28th, 2004, 08:07 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
Kids will do fine. Don't worry about them. They'll probably adjust to time-zone change better than you (or me).

As for activities on the plane, just bring whatever they like - video games, books, drawing papers. They can probably sleep better than you (or I) do on a plane, so time actually passes faster for them.
rkkwan is offline  
Oct 28th, 2004, 08:15 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
It's been several years since I've travelled on Singapore Airlines with children in tow. However, my recollection is that, even in economy class, each seat has its own TV screen and the kids were amusing themselves with the plethora of offerings: video games, movies, music that they could individualize with each seat. They might not want to get off the plane at the end of the trip - LOL!

Bring neck pillows, it's wonderful for the adults on a long flight.

rkkwan is correct. Children seem to adapt better to time changes than adults. If you have activities planned for them on arrival, most kids will just fall into the new routine.

Welcome to California and have a great trip!
easytraveler is offline  
Oct 28th, 2004, 09:54 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,934
best advice---you go on one place the kids on another and while you are at it you go for 2 weeks and send the kids for the following two weeks...
rhkkmk is offline  
Oct 28th, 2004, 09:55 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,934
don't type fast and try to be funny...thats you go one one PLANE
rhkkmk is offline  
Oct 28th, 2004, 10:06 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 81
Hi Shenwai!

I have done this flight (Similar (S'pore - Amst - NY- Boston and back)twice a year for fourteen years now and at this point we do it with five children -our youngest is now 15 months and our oldest will be 15 next month.

I have learned that every family has a different method of working this trip.
Personally, we have found it best not to force sleep on the children but to manage their time on the plane. While , yes, there are alot of families that choose the medication route in our experience not all children react in the same way to the medicine (in some cases it actually makes it impossible for your child to sleep and can make them a bit hyper) so if you really want to use the medication my advice would be to try it out before your flight first.

Your children are now old enough for self-directed play and you know what they most enjoy so my advice is to plan little surprises for them that you pass out every two hours or when they get bored and disruptive (just like what you do now only segmented out rather than all at once). It can be a new game boy game one time and a book or favorite snack treat the next. We find that lego, books (! Lots of them!), barbie or dolls w/ changes of clothing and accessories, and playdough (I know a little messy but it is actually quite easy to get off of the tray table and your child!) work well for our family.

Also, the games, movies, and children's channel on SQ are very good and, if you allow your child to watch television, can be worth HOURS of entertainment!

Other than play time we find it helps on a long haul flight to take the children's pajamas and bedtime snugglies as carry on with their change of clothing. We have the children change into their pajamas at a calculated point during the flight and prepare everything as if they were going to bed - as close to the entire ritual as possible to signal that the flight is segmented into sleep and awake time. We also have them wake up, change into new daytime clothes, brush their teeth and hair etc. when it is time to get up. Even if they don't actually fall asleep it tends to signal a time to slow down a little and relax a bit. This whole process is so much easier now that we have the direct flight options!

My husband and I also find it best to decide ahead of time how we will divide the trip so that one of us is always awake but we both still get a chance to sleep. We find one of the most important things is to be well rested and totally calm ourselves and this sets the tone for our children.

Another tip if you are flying SQ is to take advantage of the kid's meals or alternate kid's meal menus. You can now choose from an wide selection of kid's meals before you leave so that your child is assured of their favorite meal and that they don't get hungry which can translate to a bit of crankiness sometimes - even in an adult!

Once we arrive we do everything possible to keep our children awake until bedtime but if they can't stay awake we just let them sleep - either way they actually adjust VERY quickly. For us the key is to take things at their pace and keep our expectations both low and realistic. For a couple of days after we arrive (both ways) we schedule most activities in the morning (the earlier in the am the better) and leave afternoons free usually doing some sort of sport activity at the hotel or close by so that we can get anyone that begins to droop to bed quickly.

Unfortunately, we haven't found any magic tricks so if someone knows of any I would LOVE to hear them !
Since your children are so accustomed to flying this trip really will be fine. And, if it isn't you can just chant my mantra of "I can do ANYTHING for 24 hours -it really is just ONE day". Hope you are able to find something that helps a little! Have a great trip!
dlh is offline  
Oct 28th, 2004, 04:01 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 81
Hi again Shenwai!

Geez - who knew I could babble this long -well my husband probably!
Sorry but one more quick activity suggestion is to take miniature travel size versions of your family's favorite games (junior monopoly, boggle, clue, scrabble both junior and regular) with you. It could even be one of your treats! We have found the best selection to be at the Jelita Cold Storage Guardian as opposed to Toys R Us if you think this might work for you. Additionally, don't forget about the decks of cards available on the flight - hours of Old Maid, War, and Go Fish could be in your near future ! Again, have a safe and fun trip!
dlh is offline  
Oct 29th, 2004, 07:00 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 34

Great! Thank you all for the useful inputs. Now we are less concerned about the kids adjusting to jet lag etc.

Dlh, really appreciate your detailed response. This is no babble - you have been very insightful and generous with your sharing. Wish we could reciprocate and be as helpful to others on this forum. Your tips about miniature size games and maintaining a routine during flight is quite good. We will certainly try it out.

Thank you once again.

shenwai is offline  
Oct 29th, 2004, 06:49 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 2,759
shenwai, our son made his first trans-pacific flight at age 1.5 and 18 years later is still doing it with pleasure. We flew across the world with him about twice a year and actually got to the point where we looked forward to the flight. You've received some excellent advice so I'll just add a few other comments.

Have a plan for new toys, games and food treats every couple of hours. Remember to save some for the hotel.

Make a tent with a blanket so that the kids have a private play area, including the floor.

If you like to read aloud, a compelling story can fill up a lot of time.

SQ really does have the best entertainment. They don't censor movies, so if you're concerned about sex or violence, keep an eye on what they're watching.

We found that east to west jet lag is not so bad and that kids adjust to Asia in a day or so. Anticipate that they may wake up in the middle of the night. Plan to have something to eat available, either with or without your involvement. (I have a theory that hunger contributes to sleep disruption.)
Assuming you're all awake at some ungodly hour, know what the hotel's restaurant and room service hours are. At around 5:00 a.m. it's fun to get out and about as the city wakes up. In Singapore the Botanical gardens pre-dawn are especially magical. Watching local people at their daily excercizes as the day gradually lightens amongst looming tropical flora is one of my most treasured memories of travel.

Set the rules in advance, e.g., can they turn on the TV when the rest of the family is asleep?

Upon return home to the States we just didn't worry about it. We let our son adjust on his own time; it took about a week.

Singapore hotels have reliable babysitting services. Take advantange of them so that the parents can go out without the kids.

Take naps in the afternoon. It's hot and everyone will be cranky. Get a wakeup call even though you feel foolish asking to be wakened at 5:00 p.m. (They're used to it.) Everyone will be even more cranky when they wake up from their naps, but it will pass when you get into the US time zone.

Among Singapore's many attractions for kids, the night safari (zoo) is just made for jetlag. Go nocturnal with the animals!
marmot is offline  
Oct 30th, 2004, 02:58 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 100
Sherwai, we took the same flight from EWR to Singapore this summer with 3 kids, 2 were 11 one is 15 (actually I think your flight is 18 hours not 14 but at that point what's the difference) Executive Economy on SQ is really nice. The entertainment system is terrific and my daughters were happy to watch Shrek 2 4 times each and try to memorize it. Also, there is a snack bar in the back and you can all walk back there and stretch your legs to have a snack. It really helped. The seats recline somewhat and have headrests and footrests. We really had no trouble at all. We arrived in SQ and just stayed awake. Try to keep on moving, but we did have a short nap late afternoon and then went out. Honestly we had no trouble at all. Good luck!
stockexchanger is offline  
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