Jet Lag-- First day advice

Dec 18th, 2012, 06:01 PM
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Jet Lag-- First day advice

My family (husband, self, and two teens) are traveling to Paris for Christmas. We have never traveled outside of the US/Canada/Mexico/Caribbean and are not at all prepared for the jet lag we have heard so much about.

What are your best tips and advice for dealing with jet lag?

We fly from Phoenix to Detroit on Saturday then board and fly to Paris over night. We arrive in Paris at 8:30am and will obviously have had little sleep. We are staying in an apartment in the 5th. Right now I plan to get to the apartment for keys and drop off our things. I've been told NOT to shower because people will fall asleep while we wait for each other to get ready. I want to head out to walk around Notre Dame, pick up a savory crepe, walk around the Latin Quarter, have lunch, and pick up the necessities for an easy breakfast the following morning before we settle in. I've heard we should try to stay up until at least 6pm.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Tips?
Greatly appreciated!
egwright10 is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 06:08 PM
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Having done this for years (flying in from Seattle), what we usually do, after checking in to our hotel or apartment, is to walk around (fresh air), do a little lite touring, have lunch and then take a short siesta (3:00 pm to 7:00 or 8:00 pm), then get up and go out until later in the evening, for us it's usually between 11:00 pm and midnight. When we wake up in the morning we feel normal and ready to go.

I'd make lunch reservations for 1:00 to 1:30.
Robert2533 is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 06:12 PM
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You might want to check our Fish la Boissonnerie, 69 Rue de Seine for your first lunch in Paris. It's one of ours, and Patricia Wells', favorites in Paris (
Robert2533 is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 06:34 PM
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Jet lag is when your internal body clock disagrees with the time zone you are in. You may wish to use a physiological response to light and dark to reset your body clock to Paris time. As soon as you get on the plane for the Paris leg, set your watch to Paris time and behave as if that is the real time. It will probably show that you shoulod be asleep, so put on eyeshades, ignore the movie and food, and "go to bed," at least pretend. When you reach Paris, reset your internal clock to "morning" by staring at bright sky or some source of bluish light. It takes 5-10 minutes for a reset, but it helps. Then treat your first day like any other day where you did not get enough sleep the night before.
AJPeabody is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 06:40 PM
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There are two choices. I need to nap the first day (as Robert describes, above) otherwise it will take me several days to get over jet lag. Once I nap I'm set to go for the rest of the trip.

As to showering - I feel so grungy after being in airports and planes that a shower is the first thing I do upon arrival.

You have to decide what works for you but I would not sleep at 6pm. If you don't nap you need to go to bed at your normal time.

Are you arriving in Paris at 8:30 or at the airport at 8:30? If it's the airport you won't get into Paris and your apartment and settle in (have the agent/landlord show you around the apartment (wifi, washing machine), unpack, wash your face, etc.) until noon.

Find out what stores are open on Sunday and stock up on milk, coffee, toilet paper (there is never enough TP in apartments I've rented), paper towels, etc. - things you don't find in outdoor markets.

Then you can go to lunch.
adrienne is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 06:54 PM
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Jet lag is hell no matter how long I've traveled overseas-unless traveling in business. I'd recommend showering-you will feel the need to, walking around-and perhaps a light hour nap after checking-in. I wouldn't try to do any museums on that day. Just walking around and shopping for basics. I really don't feel like myself until at least the second day.
emily71 is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 06:55 PM
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Also, your first lunch (not dinner) should be lite. You can always grab something to eat in the evening, like a crepe, in the Latin quarter, but nothing heavier.

We've stayed at Paris Perfect apartments in the past, when not staying at a hotel. They have let us drop off the luggage in the office and go to lunch before worrying about checking in.
Robert2533 is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 06:56 PM
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We arrive at the airport at 8:30...good question! I have heard the airport is quite a drive from the city so arriving and settling in around noon seems about right. I plan to hit the nearby stores for necessities fairly early on, especially since I have no idea when we might be feeling either hungry or tired those first days.

I like the idea of a siesta mid-day. Perhaps that will be better for all of us. I can pretty easily adjust to not sleeping but the rest of the family is not so good at that.

Thanks adrienne, AJPeabody, and Robert2533!
egwright10 is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 06:57 PM
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I agree with others who suggest trying to sleep on the flight, using noise cancelling headphones or earplugs might help with that.When travelling with teenagers I suggest they take a gravol or something similar to help them relax at the beginning of the flight. They are usually so excited that they have trouble settling down or trying to sleep. I find that even if I just doze on and off it helps get through the next day. After you get settled in your apartment, try to keep everyone busy and outside in the fresh air as much as possible and forget about a nap. I am sure everyone will be so excited on your first evening in Paris that no one will be ready for bed at 6:00 pm. Stay up as late as you can and then try not to sleep too late the next day...get up and get going and your body will adjust to the time change!!
Snowflake25 is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 07:11 PM
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I checked the Franprix supermarkets in the 5th and they are open on Sundays from 9:00 to 1:00.
adrienne is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 07:22 PM
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It is an individual response.

I power through until 11:00 p.m., staying near the hotel and be as active as possible until a light dinner some planning of the next day's activities and some fabulous local TV to start getting immersed in the culture. The later you stay up the more fabulous the TV gets - lol

Essentially I tell my body/brain - "Okay, you got a really crummy night sleep last night, but we are going to stay up until at least 5 or 6 p.m. ("home" time) and then I'll let you sleep as long as you want."

Taking as late a flight from N America as possible helps - it is a lot easier to sleep on a plane if it leaves on a 7 hour flight at 10:00 p.m. and arrives at 6:00 a.m. (home time) than if it leaves at 5:00 p.m. and arrives at 1:00 a.m.. Plus, the later you leave the later you arrive in local time so there is less of the day to try and power through
Aramis is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 07:28 PM
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Whether siesta is a good idea of not depends of the kind of sleeper. If you are a type who can take a short nap, then stay awake for a while, but can again go back to sleep easily, then siesta might work for you. If you are a type needing long hours of awake time in between, then taking siesta means you stay awake in the evening, and just when you need to wake up in the morning you need to go to sleep thereby extending the jet lag problem. If you don't fall sleep easily, then moving the bed time later is probably easier than moving it forward.
greg is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 07:45 PM
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Napping does not work well for me because it doesn't help me get used to the new time. Unfortunately I also do not sleep well on a plane. So, I went to England last summer and did find that it was good to ignore the movies, and I at least pretended to sleep for most of the flight. After check in at the hotel, we took a long-ish walk. This was pretty reviving, and I think it helped that it was sunny. We only saw one thing that day - but it was St. Paul's, a big item on our list - and we were awake for it. Both our lunch and dinner were light, which I also think helped. Was asleep by about 9 that night and were definitely ready to get up at breakfast time in the morning.

The times when I have tried to nap after arriving in Europe I have felt like a zombie the whole rest of the day. It is why I barely remember seeing Guernica
travelingaunta is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 07:49 PM
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jet lag is something that the more you worry about it the worse it becomes. I don't even notice it unless I pass more than about 8 time zones passing east to west. And I don't even sleep much at all on flights from the USA to Europe - I'm lucky if I get an hour or two of "rest," not real sleep. I get there, I get out of the plane, I get energized, I'm on my way, I have a full day of sightseeing or whatever, and I go to bed about 9 or 10 pm and I'm good to go the next day. I can't do naps ever, anywhere, so that doesn't work for me.
StCirq is online now  
Dec 18th, 2012, 08:01 PM
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I have a feeling it may be a mixture of all the things everyone has suggested. The kids are really who I'd like to keep up because I don't want them struggling through the jet lag for several days and sleeping the mornings away. I really appreciate all of your suggestions and tips and am just so excited for the experience! I will keep the plan simple on Sunday-- shower quickly, pick up the essentials, walk the neighborhood, see Notre Dame (we are right across the river from there) and have a LIGHT lunch/dinner. Thanks everyone!
egwright10 is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 09:51 PM
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I flew from the US to Sweden yesterday and have jet lag. I did not sleep but an hour on the plane ride since I had a delightful seat partner and we chatted most of the flight. A couple of hours after getting home I needed a nap and there was nothing better than getting into my pj's and snuggling in my own comfy bed. I slept for a couple of hours and woke up groggy and took a shower. Took a slow evening with the kids and hubby and went to bed at 8.30 p.m. to 5.30 this morning.
With an early arrival you may not have the luxury of checking into your hotel. I wouldn't worry so much of doing what others do but listen to your body. I am a person in need of sleep and see nothing wrong with a 3 hour nap if you can get one in earlier in the day then take a shower to refresh and keep you going into the evening. Then get out and take a walk for some fresh air. Eat a light meal and hit the hay.
Finecheapboxofwine is offline  
Dec 19th, 2012, 04:51 AM
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In the winter, we find that staying up and outside as long as there is daylight helps. Eat a light lunch, do a walking tour of your neighborhood and nearby sights. If you want to take a short nap, do it late in the afternoon and try to limit it to an hour. Wake up, shower, go out for dinner, try to stay awake until 10PM. That is what works for us.
mamcalice is offline  
Dec 19th, 2012, 05:16 AM
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I normally take a 40 minute nap at home after lunch. I do the same if possible on the first day in the UK or Europe, though I usually sleep up to two hours. Then out for a walk, an earlyish dinner and to bed at a normal clock time.
Ackislander is offline  
Dec 19th, 2012, 06:46 AM
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Winter weather and the fact that daylight hours are at their absolute shortest at that time of year are going to affect your ability to adjust greatly. Also complicating matters is that you are traveling with a group.

I would plan the first 2 days lightly so in case some of your group is begging to sleep the rest of you can give in without feeling you are missing the most important highlight of your trip.

I would also look for places to go that are very bright and well lit, but not brain-taxing. Walk around the Champs Elysees after the sun goes down. Head in to the big department stores like the Galleries Lafayette. If there are supermarkets open, go inside and get things for the apartment.

If you are all sharing a hotel room, bring flashlights and books or Kindles along. Some of you may wake up at 4 am, absolutely awake. You or someone else can read quietly while the others rest. Have food in the apartment. Fruit juice is reviving. Croissants and French pastries cure everything.
goldenautumn is offline  
Dec 19th, 2012, 06:56 AM
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Haven't read all the others but yours is a good start, and what we do also. We also do the "housekeeping" like getting travel passes if using them, buy the museum pass. We also think it's a pretty good time to do the Seine river cruise. Then grab a bite to eat and go to bed pretty early for Paris. The next day we seem to be pretty ready to go,, although we do wake up earlyish.
Gretchen is offline  

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