As a mom of two (currently 3 and 1.5 years old) who travels often with her children, I have acquired a few tips that will make any trip better because you won’t have to stress about jet lag (these work the same for adults, too). My children have been to Alaska, Hawaii, Tanzania, Uganda, and everywhere in between. Even on the 8-hour time difference, they acclimated within one day. The rule of thumb is that you need a day of recovery for every time zone you go through- I don’t think that to be true. If you use these small tricks and learn from my mistakes- you will have the best vacation (and adjust just as quickly when you get back home)!
1: DO NOT NAP
- We learned this hard when we returned from Bali (before the kids). We landed back home in the afternoon and napped almost immediately when we got home. It took us nearly two weeks to get back to our time zone due to that one little mistake. It completely confused our bodies and sent us into a spiral of jet lag confusion.
- If you land at noon and your baby usually naps at 2 p.m., let them nap at 2 p.m. When we landed in Tanzania at noon, Dean had rested on the last plane, and Oakley doesn’t nap anymore, so both of them went to bed at their standard time (based on local time). It is tough with kids, but I prefer to have one tough day and get them on track immediately instead of letting them fall asleep and then, for the next week, have them wake up at 1 a.m.
2: STICK TO LOCAL TIME
- The absolute KEY to getting your body’s natural circadian rhythm aligned to the local time zone is to go off of sunrise and sunset. No matter how tough it is for you or your child- do not just go to sleep when you are tired. My philosophy: I would rather be exhausted on the travel day and then acclimate for the entire trip than give it to my sleepiness the first day and be thrown off entirely for the whole trip
- When you are flying east, you will usually land in the afternoon. I know it can be tough to stay awake until the evening because you have been traveling for 1-2 days but TRUST me- you can do it, and the rest of your vacation will thank you.
3: LOTS OF SUNLIGHT
- Our bodies crave the sun- it will help your body to know that it’s time to be awake. Sunshine plays a role in regulating hormones and sleep patterns by affecting the melatonin circadian rhythm. Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland from the chemical melanin. Melanin is made in the skin through sun exposure.
4: SLEEP PRODUCT
- If you’re having trouble sleeping at bedtime, I suggest our SLEEP product (to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer).
5: BUSINESS CLASS
- The one is optional. Josh and I traveled for almost a decade before upgrading anything to business class. Being able to lie flat helps you get as much sleep as possible while traveling. It also allows space for the kids (even though they only get about 1/2 the sleep they usually get). But still- a great option to be as well rested as possible when you reach your destination!
It took us one day to get on local time in Tanzania and Uganda and one day to get back on local time in Iowa from our most recent trip (we got home three days ago). I hope these tips help you and your family!