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Jet lag & Kids

I know Jet Lag's been covered before.I hope you don't mind another question. We are travelling with 2 pre-teens how can I help them get over Jet Lag? If kids get tired, they just sit down where they are and don't budge. (kinda like a stubborn donkey).Any experience with "Jet Lag" tablets? Can I give them to my girls? Should I "knock them out" with Gravol to help them sleep on board? Please Please Help, they are Horrible when they are Tired !

Posted by
2297 posts

I know many parents who use Gravol or Benedryl and it seems to work for them. Don't like to use it myself as especially Benedryl can have the opposite effect on some children. And that would only help (a bit) on the flight but not with jet lag at arrival.

For us it usually works that we make a fun game out of it: At home it's always the parents telling the kids "you have to be in bed by 9 pm". During travel for the first couple of days we tell them "you are not allowed to go to bed before 9 pm" and we all laugh about it.

Make sure you keep them outside for most of the first day. And get them out of bed early after the first night even if it's tough - no sleeping in.

My worst nights were the ones when I got them to bed at 9 pm the first evening and then they woke up at midnight with their inner clock saying it's morning - and they were wide awake till 5 am .... they coped with that kind of night much better than me who had to stay up with them! Same on the flight: I let my little one stretch out over my lap which means she can get at least some decent sleep - and I get 20 minutes at the most :-(

Posted by
331 posts

Thanks Beatrix, I think I will skip the Gravol and just make a game of it. 20 minutes sleep for you? Yup, you are definately a Mom !! I don't think we mom's Ever get Real Sleep anymore :~)

Posted by
1455 posts

I'm sort of in the same boat... taking my 18 y.o. niece who's going not just to Europe for the 1st time, but this is her 1st plane trip!

I'm hoping to limit her caffeine and encourage her to drink more water to keey herself hydrate... and get plenty of rest.

I personally try to stay up late the night before the trip, and even try to adjust to the "new" time before I even leave the States. That way on the way there, my internal clock is already adjusting.

I also pretty much figure the 1st day is a bust, and we'll just move around the city to get acclimated to the new time.

Posted by
800 posts

Some things that have worked for us:

Wake up at 4:00 am day of departure. Breakfast, lunch, maybe dinner all before you leave. I assume you'll have an evening flight. If at all possible skip dinner on the plane. You'll want to eat breakfast on the plane so you'll get a max of 5-6 hours rest depending on where you are flying.

Yes to Gravol on the plane (we use Dramamine in the states). Again, you'll want to tell them to skip dinner and immediately settle in and go to sleep. If they can't sleep they are not allowed to keep YOU up at all. The early morning & Gravol should help them to eventually relax and get a little sleep.

We used to stay up the entire first day and head for bed early. Lately however we have allowed ourselves a one hour nap (set an alarm) in order to be able to stay up a little later. We find that we wake up at a pretty much "normal" time.

Be outdoors as much as possible the first few days.

For the next 2 days and many remaining days of your trip try not to overdo it. Build in rest times. We get TIRED touristing, regardless of the jet-lag factor. Allowing time to rest, read, listen to music, general downtime when you are not requiring your girls to be happy & social will make you ALL happier.

Keep them fed. With a slight mixup in their body clocks some of their crankiness may be due more to low blood sugar (or whatever the real term for it is) than to real tiredness. Treat them (and you too) like toddlers - Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, dessert. Eat lots of ice cream, chocolate, wonderful pastries, etc. Two hours of museum touring should immediately be followed by food/drink of some sort. I had a hard time convincing both my husband and my Type A friends that this was a non-negotiable item. They found that I was absolutely right - the times they tried to "push through" and skip lunch because everyone had a big breakfast - that is when everyone would fall apart.

You're going to have a wonderful time with your girls!

Posted by
11503 posts

I agree with previous poster, sleep is important, if little kids( or big ones for that matter, LOL ) have a hard time sleeping on a plane, especially if its a novelty or first time for them.
With out sleep they will be cranky as all heck when you arrive, and you will likely arrive in the morning, so what do you do all day with kids who have been awake almost 24 hrs?? Yikes.
I flew from west coast to Europe serveral times as a kid, and I almost never was able to sleep on the plane, I was too excited, I wanted to watch the movie( which is usaully not appropriate for kids under 10-12 anyways) , luckily I tended to motion sickness so my mom gave me gravol after the first few hellish flights. What a relief for both of us, LOL

BTW, if kids have even the tiniest head cold give them Dimetapp instead, the pressure change is terrible on ears when kids are even a little stuffy . Dimetapp will help with that, plus perhaps make them a little drowsy.

Another option is Meletonin, my sons doctor recommended it for him as he has trouble falling asleep due to other meds he takes. He didn't start taking it till he was 14 so I have no idea if it is suitable for younger child, ask your doctor. It is not a drug, you can buy it with the vitamins and supplements at Safeway or London Drugs. I use it too occaisonally. No hang over from it, it only helps you fall asleep by making your body think its time to sleep, it doesn't drug you asleep or keep you asleep ( so you will wake easily if someone rouses you) .
If you decide to take or give anything to the kids do it at home a week or two before the trip to see how them react.

Posted by
800 posts

Sylvia - one more important thing to anyone who is going to give their kids drugs. Make sure this is something you have tried before!!! I know there are some kids who get wound up and hyper taking Benadryl. My daughter would get carsick/airsick anyway so we knew that Dramamine - the NORMAL (not non-drowsy) kind made her sleepy. My son had allergies and we would often use Benadryl when he had a serious case of Poison Ivy. Again, both of these things I knew would make my kids tired and I felt comfortable giving them to them for the sole purpose of sleep on the plane.

Others may tell you not to "drug" your kids - but you would know yourself that Benadryl/Gravol would just make them drowsy and not passed out.

And the mom above who only got 20 min. of sleep has my sympathy. This is why we didn't do overnight Europe trips until the youngest was 9. At that age he was old enough to not NEED me to keep him quiet. The threat of waking either Dad or Me for anything short of a real emergency (in the plane) kept both kids quiet. I don't really know how much sleep they got because I took my own (prescription) pill to really get some sleep - Dad too. Believe me, in our family a grouchy dad is way worse than grouchy pre-teens!

Posted by
671 posts

I'm planning on waking my kids up earlier than usual the morning we leave and then giving them melatonin shortly after take-off.

Posted by
2349 posts

Sylvia, The other Karen had some good points. This is what I did recently w/ my 15 & 12's. I gave them each benadryl before the flight. (yes, they take it for allergies at times, so I knew the effect.) They each slept a good bit on the flight. In London, after airport and transport to our hotel and checking in, we went to lunch. All four of us were completely silent from exhaustion. If I had tried to get them outside on a happy little walk, well, it would not have been pretty. So we went back to the hotel. I slept for an hour (set an alarm!!) and showered, and woke them up. That was really a chore, I'll admit, and they were grouchy for a bit. But we got onto a bus, just a city bus, and drove around and looked at stuff. They perked right up. We did low key, low energy stuff like that for several hours, walked in Hyde Park, etc, and then dinner and bed at about 9. I offered more benadryl that first night but they declined. Everyone was great the next day. Even though it was hard to wake them up, if we had not done that nap, we would have seriously suffered.

You should also consider their, um, digestive schedule. Time changes can cause problems in that area. Not for us, mind you. They're my good little poopers. But plenty of fruit, plenty of water, and some quiet time after a meal helps. Don't just rush off all the time. Have fun.

Posted by
331 posts

Hi Everyone, and THANK YOU !
The planning and booking and researching and saving and whatever else we have been doing to take this once in a lifetime trip (well, hopefully not really only a once in a lifetime) was such alot of effort and it Could have been a Real Disaster without your suggestions. I am hoping that when my girls are old and gray they go out for coffee together (maybe even in Paris) they remember "Europe 2008" fondly, and not as the "trip from Jet Lag Hell".

Posted by
12154 posts

Preteens may be big enough for a Tylenol PM to help them sleep.

One of our kids, a teenage boy, still won't swallow any pill. He stays awake the whole flight and is a zombie our first day in Europe. Even as a zombie he doesn't do the stubborn donkey thing, he just falls asleep whenever he sits down for more than a minute. After a good night's sleep on the first night he is fine. One nice thing about being young, you bounce back faster.

Posted by
671 posts

The ingredient in Tylenol PM that causes drowsiness is the same ingredient as in Benadryl (but with Tylenol added). Unless you are fighting a fever or pain, it's best just to use Benadryl, as Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can cause liver damage if overused.

My autistic son used to not take pills and our doctor actually prescribed a Benadryl cream that was absorbed through the skin (had to be mixed at a compounding pharmacy.) It worked pretty quickly!

Posted by
51 posts

One other suggestion, change your watch when you get on the plane. For example, our flight takes off at 8:30pm pst - which is 4:30 am in London. I will try to sleep as soon as we get on the plane, rather than try to stay awake.

Posted by
70 posts

Tylenol makes Simply Sleep which is the ingredient in Tylenol PM without the Tylenol!

Be cautious when taking sleep stuff on the plane though, you want to be sure that you will have enough time in air- the meds say to be sure to have 8 hours to dedicate for sleep, so taking it to help you sleep on a flight of less than 8 hours will likely make anyone a groggy mess at touchdown.

I also recommend earplugs to block out plane noise.