Monday 27 July 2015


While it is still fresh in my mind, I wanted to share some thoughts and experiences on jet lag after our recent trip to Europe with three young children. There are some strategies that seemed to work, thoughts on what I would do better next time, and info on what I've found through a little research. If you have any tips or tricks please share them!

Flying from Australia to Europe
* A friend who has travelled to Italy several times with three young children advised us to book an evening flight. We did this, and I'm so glad that we did. Because we caught a 6pm flight the children were tired not long after the plane took off. They slept most of the way from Sydney to Singapore. They were still tired in Singapore but managed to stay awake during transit but were glad to get back on the plane, and back to sleep, on the flight from Singapore to Milan.

Arriving in Italy
* Leaving Sydney late meant that our plane landed in Milan at about 8 o'clock in the morning. However, this also turned out to work well for us because by the time we organised our car hire and drove to our accommodation already half the day had passed. The children were so excited to explore their surrounds that they wore themselves out to a degree. We tried to keep everyone awake for as long as possible - as close to their regular bedtimes - and this seemed to work. Everyone had a good night sleep.

Flying from Europe to Australia
* Our return flight to Australia departed Milan at midday. This meant that for the first leg of the journey everyone was wide awake. The children were tired for the second leg of the journey and their sleep times were clashing with the local time of Australia. In future, I would try to fly in the evenings only. When we arrived in Sydney at about 5pm everyone was wide awake and we couldn't get the eldest children to go to sleep until about 2am. However, neither of us adults had slept well on the flights so we were exhausted and desperate for sleep.

* The two-year-old seemed to adjust the best to jet lag in both directions. When we arrived back in Sydney she went to bed close to her regular bed time and slept through the night. The flip side was that she was the first to wake (both locations) even though the rest of us wanted to sleep in!
* The seven-year-old struggled the most to adjust to the new time zone. He has always been late to bed (we often hear him moving around his room until 10pm), and the jet lag was hardest for him. 

* On the first day back in Sydney we tried to get everyone back on Sydney-time as soon as possible and in the afternoon, when we knew everyone would be flagging, we went to the pool. Not only did this keep everyone awake through that difficult time, but it also wore them out a little so that by the time bedtime did roll around, they were more receptive to going to sleep.
* We got an oil burner and burned lavender to help create a calm atmosphere at home. I don't know if it was psychosomatic but everyone slept well that night.
* We arrived back on Saturday night, which gave us a day to adjust before going back to school. However, next time I would consider arriving back a day earlier - to give everyone a little more time to adjust.
* We rented out our home on AirBnB while we were away, and this meant our home was spotless when we walked through the door. It made such a great experience of returning home. Even if you didn't rent your place out, just getting a cleaner to come in and tidy/clean your place before you return would be worth considering.
* We (adults) took Melatonin tablets on our return to Sydney to help adjust to the local time. In Australia you need to have a script from a doctor to get them. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in our body, which can be taken in the form of a tablet or supplement, that helps your body get ready for sleep. You can read more about it here. Taking supplements is a personal choice, but we have found this one to help us many times with jet lag on overseas trips. Always consult your doctor before taking any medication.

image the indigo crew

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the Melatonin tip - someone had told me about this ages ago and I'd forgotten all about it! I always clean my house before we go away - I'm sure my husband used to think I was a bit nuts adding to the stress of packing and leaving but he quickly came to appreciate the loveliness of returning to a clean, calm house. I think we're going to try our hardest to go via Singapore when we return home for a visit and a night flight! Thanks for the confirmation. The thought of the long flight home from London makes me feel nauseous.