In's & Out's of Family Jet Lag

Whatever your approach is to jet lag, it’s going to be challenged the first time you and your kids cross many time zones at once. 

I personally have found going east is always easier than going west. Except, there are some holes in my theory, in that all the fun places and people I typically travel to are east of me!

We rolled east with our 14-month-old son to Florence, Italy, and we did the whole “get out in the sunshine” right off the plane. 

I don't know if it worked, and here's why. I'm also a believer its easier for me to forget jet lag when I've arrived somewhere new. I want to stay up late and see the sights and eat new food. And so that has been our approach as parents. 

We're not huge schedule people; and with kids, this helps. We try to keep the kids up the first night and naturally begin to recognize the time zone and meal times of your destination. 

  • Expect it could take up to 5 nights in your new time zone for your child or family to feel adjusted. Some take more, some take less. Everyone's bodies are sensitive in different ways. 
  • Upon arrival in your first night's sleeping accommodation, thoroughly try to eliminate or reduce places where natural light could come in early to your kids' room. That may mean pinning a blanket over the window. 
  • Kids typically wake up at regular meal times from their home time zone. Try to keep lights low and offer water or nurse and settle; but don't play or engage. Books and a soft light are a good option when kids really can't sleep. 
  • If and when you or your kids do wake up early, take the opportunity to explore your new surroundings in the early morning hours. 
  • With toddlers: The stroller is your friend. Don't expect that your family has to be back at a bedroom for naps. We've had some of our best tourist days while our children took their regular nap in their stroller. We even ate out in Italy while our son was sleeping at his usual bedtime in his stroller beside our dinner table in restaurants. However, for daytime naps, don't let them sleep for longer than their normal nap at home. 

We're going to try: A naturopath friend recently told me a natural jet lag supplement she found at REI about and tells me she and her children (ages 8 and 14) and husband, also a naturopath, really felt a difference. This is a seasoned travel family, so we'll give it a shot on our next trip and report back in.