We’re excited to share our best tips to beat jet lag! Traveling with kids as a parent is exciting, but it can also be a real challenge for many reasons. A big one of those reasons is the jet lag symptoms that happen when you travel to a new time zone. Something like jet lag after a long flight can affect the whole family, but especially children. The effects of jet lag can make you all feel tired, cranky, and out of sorts. But as we all know, children have a lot less control over their emotions than adults do, so things can get messy.
Jet lag can affect every one of your bodily functions causing sleep disruption, and the natural rhythm of your digestive system causing stomach problems. So you can imagine how little kids might respond to those negative effects. It’s said that for every hour of time difference in the time zone you’ve traveled to, it can take 24 hours for your kids to adjust to the time difference. So that can be a substantial amount of time, but keep in mind that as time goes on their symptoms of jet lag will improve with each day. So that travel fatigue will fade more and more each day.
The good news is, there are things you can do to help them adjust more quickly. We all experienced jet lag on our trip to Paris and we learned some valuable tips for improving the transition to a different time zone for you and your kids. These tips to beat jet lag are the best way to fight jet lag symptoms for you and your kids.
Our Best Tips to Beat Jet Lag
1. Plan ahead
Something that would be very beneficial to your kids for a major timezone change, like the 6 hour time zone difference when we traveled to Paris, is to start adjusting their sleep schedule before you ever leave. You can make slow, incremental changes to their bedtime and wake up times each day for a week leading up to your trip to help them adjust better on the first day of your trip. They will still have some adjusting to do, but beginning to reset the body’s internal clock ahead of time can make it less of an abrupt change and less exhausting.
Dehydration makes the symptoms of jet lag worse. You should drink plenty of water not only on your flight and after your flight, but also in the days leading up to your trip. This is especially important if your kids resist drinking water, start really focusing on getting them to drink lots of water a few days before your trip so you can make sure they are hydrated.
3. Wear comfortable clothing
If you’re traveling to a different time zone, chances are you’re going to have a long flight, and often these long flights are overnight flights. Make sure you and your kids are in comfortable clothing for a long-haul flight, even if the trip isn’t quite that long.
4. Bring in-flight necessities
Being prepared is half the battle of fighting jet lag. Make sure you bring ear plugs or headphones for all of you. Listening to relaxing music is great for adults to relax. Audiobooks are a good idea for kids to unwind to get ready for at least a short nap. Things like neck pillows for comfortable sleeping are essential too.
5. Operate on new time-zone when you board your flight
As soon as you board your flight, go ahead and set your watch to your new destination time zone and start following that time change as if you’re already there. When you and your kids eat and sleep, it should be on that time once you get on the flight. Obviously, the kids will struggle with this more than you will, just do your best to help them.
6. Sleep as much as possible
It’s great if you and your spouse can take turns sleeping while the kids are sleeping, but most importantly, get the kids to sleep as much as possible. Getting some extra hours of sleep will help you all adjust to different times, but any amount of sleep everyone can get will help. Bring melatonin for kids for a safe way to help them sleep at the appropriate times.
7. Turn off electronic devices for sleep
Turn off any electronic devices at least 30 minutes before you want your kids to sleep. The blue light from electronic devices disrupts the production of melatonin and will prevent a melatonin supplement from being effective. Turning off any blue light devices will help you and your kids fall asleep faster and have better sleep quality in already less than ideal sleep conditions.
8. Avoid sugary, salty, and heavy foods
These kinds of food can make everyone feel more tired, cause discomfort, and increase jet lag symptoms. Try to avoid having unhealthy snacks or meals during the long haul flight as much as possible.
9. Avoid carbonated drinks
Carbonated drinks can cause digestive discomfort on a flight, which will make the different time zones issue worse. Apparently, the change in barometric pressure can increase gas and bloating from carbonation.
10. Avoid caffeine
It’s probably pretty obvious that you don’t want to give kids caffeine on a flight, especially not a long one. For everyone’s sanity and to help your kids be able to sleep, avoid caffeine. Adults should also avoid caffeine as well as alcohol since it disrupts sleep and will mess up any sleep you might be able to get.
11. Get some sunlight
After the flight, the first thing you should do is get some natural light exposure as quickly as possible. Your sleep and wake cycles sync naturally with the sunlight. The bright light from the sun will help your body recognize that it’s time to be awake. This will help you and your kids start adjusting your sleep patterns right away.
12. Get busy right away
Stay in that sunlight as long as possible and stay busy as soon as you land. Whatever time it is when your flight lands, stick to your regular schedule and nap, eat, and go to bed according to the appropriate time of day in the new time zone.
13. Eat a lot before bed
With a time difference like 6 hours, lack of sleep is not your only issue. Many people will wake up in the middle up in the middle of night because it’s their normal meal time. You want to stick to meal times as much as possible, but you and your kids should eat before bed so you can all sleep through the night.
14. Be patient
Most importantly, just do what’s right for your kids. We all know that there is only so much under your control when it comes to parenting. The mood of your kids is not one of them and jet lag can do a number on anyone, especially those little ones! If they are tired, let them sleep and if they’re hungry, let them eat. Do your best to stick to their routine, but don’t try to force it. The last thing you want to do is make your trip stressful for everyone. Traveling in a new timezone can be a lot for your kids and tiring so be patient with them and yourself.
Preparation really is the key to success, and with these tips to beat jet lag, you can have a less stressful and exhausting time during