Preparing for Travel Across Multiple Time Zones
I have a huge trip to Europe planned and I leave next week! I usually stay in one spot, but this time we're bouncing around to over 6 cities and there's no time to be jet lagged. So I can either take the time and prepare for a new time zone, or just hate my life for half of the trip.
Every time I fly overseas, I try to perfect the experience and minimize my jet lag. Through trial and error, this is what I’ve learned:
PICK THE RIGHT FLIGHT
Most people think overnight flights are best for jet lag because they get to sleep on the plane. This is false. Overnight flights are best because you land in the morning and are more motivated to take on the day.
Landing in the morning tricks your body into thinking it’s not tired, even though it’s 2 a.m. back home. The last time I was in London I stayed up for over 26 hours and I didn’t get tired. Would I do that again? Probably not. But know that it’s possible.
Tip: Plan an adventure late in the afternoon so you get your second wind.
If I land in the evening, 6 or 7 hours ahead of my “home” time, my body still thinks it’s early and I end up staying up until the wee hours of the morning. This is the worst. You either force yourself to wake up after 3 hours of sleep, or you sleep in and do it all over again the next night.
Tip: If you have to land at night, but you’re not tired, have a drink or two on the plane or at a local pub after you land. Nothing knocks me out like a couple of whiskeys.
...Although I must say that this has backfired on me (a few times). I start drinking in a bar, make a few new friends, and then the next thing I know I’m watching the sunrise on a rooftop. I've never loved and hated my life so much at the same time. You can avoid this by drinking alone in your hotel. No shame.
The best way to prepare for jet lag is to acclimate yourself. Try going to bed closer and closer to the local time of your destination. You don't have to get on the same exact schedule, just ease yourself towards it. Some people only need a day or two, others may need a week. Get a feel for it.
But remember to wake up earlier! Don't just go to bed early and sleep in. Make sure you're waking up earlier everyday as well.
I have traveled sober, drunk, wide awake, and dead to the world. The only thing that I’ve learned is that there’s no such thing as a perfect flight. If I get rest, I wake up stiff and irritable. If I'm awake, I'm bored and/or uncomfortable, and if I'm too drunk, I'm in that tiny excuse for a bathroom every 30 minutes.
Now sleeping on a plane is going to be different for everyone. I can't tell you what to do, I can only tell you what I do.
If I sleep the whole plane ride, I seem to be even more exhausted when I get to where I’m going. This is probably due to the fact that I don’t sleep well (even in first class) and my body is not happy about it. So if I decided to sleep, I try to only take short naps. Anything longer than 40 minutes and I feel like crap.
Tip: If you find it difficult to sleep sitting up next to strangers, try taking melatonin, using a bit of lavender oil, or just drinking some booze.
If you don't sleep on the plane, the first day might be a bit rough, but push yourself to stay awake. The last thing you want to do is crash as soon as you get to where you're going. A nap may sound nice, but it ends up completely resetting your schedule.
Tip: Make sure you stay hydrated and properly fueled so your body doesn't feel as defeated. Stay away from energy drinks and a sugary foods that will just make you crash in a few hours.
My go to is coffee/tea and snacks. Lots of snacks.