Share on Pinterest
There are no images.
Share with your friends


By Jim Cohn

If you’re anything likeme in the parenting department, bedtime is the one borderline untouchable for younger kids. My kids probably think they’re in the military when the clock strikes 8 p.m. If they sleep well, which they usually do, they’re angels. When they don’t, they often awake having grown horns on their heads overnight and with a pitchfork in hand. Lack of sleep is why we adults drink coffee. Kids can’t, and this, the overtired kids syndrome, is something every parent in the world knows all too well. 

But no one knows our kids like we do, and you are certainly the best equipped to make the decision regarding which is better for you when planning an international family vacation -– overnight flights or daytime flights. Personally, I have never taken an overnight overseas flight with my kids, and here’s why:

Let’s say you have an eight-hour flight that leaves at 10 p.m. Chances are, if your kids are old enough for such family travel, they’re beyond the age where they fall asleep in the car at 8 p.m. So, they’re excited, going on an airplane, vacation, plane takes off, I figure if I’m lucky they’re asleep 30 minutes after we’re in the air. That means at best they’re sleeping 7.5 hours that night. 

Now, a lot of this depends on the age of your kids, but I recall reading somewhere that the average kid between the ages of 3 and 9 requires 10-12 hours of sleep per night. I know many families who swear that overnight travelis best, so the kids can sleep in the car, or, in this case on the plane. Not me.

Truth is, there’s no easy way to do this. Is it easier to get them to sleep during the flights or to have to occupy them for eight hours, which can certainly be a challenge? Personally, I’ll choose the latter, again, simply because I’d rather have to entertain them than worry about a brutal combination of overtired kids and a jet-lagged parent upon arrival. Doesn’t make for a fun start to a family vacation, and the prospect of my kids sleeping seven hours the first night versus the usual 10-12 almost scares me to death.

So how do you keep them entertained on long flights? A DVD player is a MUST when you travel. You can kill at least three hours with a couple of movies, and what kids don’t like to watch movies on an airplane? Couple of travel-sized games, books, lunchtime, you’re more than half-way home already. So, it’s maybe a couple of challenging and stir-crazy hours and a little getting up and moving around. But I’ll take this over the challenges mentioned earlier with overnight flights.

Related Orbitz resources:

Before Orbitz, Jim had a previous life as a broadcast sports
journalist, covering the Super Bowl, the Final Four, the Masters, the
Daytona 500 and other events that would make any sports junkie jealous.
Now, he uses his expertise and travel experience to help others find
the best and most cost-effective ways to travel to top sporting events and more.

Tagged: Family time

Note: Orbitz compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *