Jet lag is the bane of every traveller: It can cut out precious sightseeing hours, sometimes even up to an entire day. My best story involving this sleep-deprived enemy of travel was when I flew overseas to begin my long-term backpacking trip. We got off the plane and had planned to do everything “right.” We slept as much as we could on the plane, refused to take a nap upon landing even though it was the middle of the night back home, and set an alarm to wake up at a decent time the next day.
Things, unfortunately, did not go as planned, and we ended up sleeping late into the evening of our first full day on foreign soil. Sleeping a day away isn’t’ so bad when it happens at home after a long trip, but it can be a pain during your vacation.
Luckily, there are a few ways to avoid the dreaded jet lag.
It all starts when you book your plane ticket. Usually you can choose your seat on the plane online when you order the ticket. There are a couple of things to consider when deciding between the window, aisle or middle seats.
The window seat will offer some pretty great views (including the first time you will see the place you are visiting), and a surface to rest your head on while sleeping. You also don’t have to worry about other travellers crawling over you to use the washroom, but you do have to traversing the laps of others any time you want to gain freedom.
The aisle seat, on the other hand, will offer you easier access to the washroom and you can stretch your legs into the aisle for a bit when they get cramped. But you have to be wary of others walking up and down the plane’s exterior. These other passengers are not always cautious and the aisle isn’t particularly wide, so you may potentially be woken up with an elbow to the head or a trip over your extended feet.
The middle seat, really, offers very little rewards and all the downsides of a window seat. There’s less room in between two people and you will constantly be battling for control of both the armrests. Next is simply scheduling when you sleep. On the plane, you need to try to sleep as much as possible. Forget when they suggest sleeping (with dimmed lights and hushed tones) and pop in your ear plugs, cover your eyes, and try to catch some Zs. If you’re unable to sleep, try to rest by closing your eyes and maybe listening to some soft music.
When you land in the foreign county you are visiting, forget the time zone back home. Try to adjust to the new one as quickly as possible. If you land in the morning or afternoon, check into your hotel and do some wandering. Walk as much as possible to become tired, but do not go to bed early. You will want to go to sleep at a normal time, preferably between eight and midnight. And, even more importantly, be sure to wake up at a normal time the next morning (aim for nine, eleven at the latest—avoid six o’clock in the evening). Continue to stick to a normal schedule for the time zone you are visiting for at least the next couple days, and you should be adjusted enough to handle pushing the limits a night or two!