Tips for Helping Your Kids Deal with Jet Lag

Flying internationally with kids can be a challenge-the seats are uncomfortable, the food stinks and there is an overall ickiness that settles everywhere throughout the plane. But that’s not the worst part. Once you’ve arrived, you want to quickly ease into your new time zone and start enjoying your family vacation, so how do you deal with jet lag?

Chances are, you already know how jet lag can damper your first few vacation days and you are wondering how much more difficult things will be now that you have kids.

I traveled this summer with my nine year old nephew and a friend’s 14 year old son and noted some important differences in how the two of them behaved-and how quickly they adjusted-to Italy’s time zone.

Here are three tips to help you, help your kids, deal with jet lag.

1. Don’t Sleep In
It’s tempting to sleep in-and even more so, to let your kids sleep in-on the first morning. But, don’t. This summer, I insisted my nephew wake up at 9 AM the first day we were in Italy. I didn’t have as much control over my friend’s son … you know, him being older and not being a relative, and all-and he slept All. Day. Long.

The result was that my nephew adjusted to Italy’s time within a few days and wasn’t groggy, grouchy or restless during the vacation. My friend’s son, however, slept late each day and was awake most of the night for the first week.

I know it’s hard to make them get up, but do it. You’ll have a better, more enjoyable vacation if you do.

2. Get Outside
Speaking of getting up, don’t just get out of bed and sit around and watch TV … that’ll just feed your jet lag. Get up and get outside. Get moving. There’s nothing like a little physical exercise-key word here … little … to help you get over jet lag. Take a family walk, go swimming or start lightly exploring the city you’re visiting. That way, you’ll be able to ease into the new time zone and won’t be overly exhausted before your vacation has even started.

3. Eat at Normal Times
I tend to lose my appetite in those first few days after an international trip and eating, even on the local schedule, is often a chore. Still, eating on schedule will encourage you and your kids to start thinking in the local time and will help you get over jet lag more easily.

For more tips on helping your kids adjust to the new zone regardless of their age, check out Delicious Baby’s article on Jet lag for babies, toddlers and kids.

Have you traveled internationally with your kids? What tips would you add to this list?

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Photos: ChadGermany and ModernMom

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