So Long, Jetlag!
Traveling is hands-down one of my favorite activities. It makes my heart skip, my feet dance, my nerves peak, my brain storm, and my excitement overflow. For me, there’s nothing like the rush of boarding a plane, heading off to a foreign land, and preparing for adventure. For many, it can be difficult to acquire enough time off work to feel like you can see and do everything you have dreamed of. This is why it is extremely important to make the most of you time traveling, and it all starts with the night before your flight.
It is easy to get SO excited…
I know what you’re thinking! “But Janelle, when I land in London, I’m going to be exhausted and sleep the entire day away, and then my sleep schedule will be thrown off for the entire trip and I won’t see anything! I should just vacation in America.”
“No!” I say emphatically.
If you are craving a foreign trip, don’t let the fear of exhaustion or jetlag stop you. On my very first trip back in 2007, I was a young, naïve girl with zero knowledge of how to travel properly. I do not know how I made it through the first day abroad. I remember following our guide through the metro of Paris, angry that we were lost, not knowing how to order coffee in French, and crying to go back home on day one.
Luckily for me, I had fallen asleep on the flight and woke to find myself awkwardly petting the fur hood of the girl next to me- I normally sleep with a dog, so I’m going to say that in my brain, I was petting a pet. However, thanks to getting my required zzz’s the night before, once we finally located our hotel and settled in, I was able to hit Paris running full steam.
It is of utmost importance, especially on the first day you land, to be on your game mentally.
This is the day you have to navigate to your hostel/hotel/whatever and possibly do it with a huge language barrier. Adding jetlag into the mix can not only make your day miserable and drawn out, it can also be very dangerous. Determined to not be completely defeated by my first trip abroad, I figured out what works best for me and how to make the most of vacation.
The night before I take off for a trip, I relax. I enjoy a bubble bath (especially since I will not see another tub for who knows how long!), I pin some last-minute sights I would like to see, and head to bed early. The key is to make yourself tired for your flight the next day.
I do not save my packing for last-minute, run any errands, or do anything but focus on relaxing. By packing and prepping for my flight several days in advance, I am able to stay home and chill. If I were out running errands, I would be building up energy and likely realizing there are tasks I have forgotten about. I would then find myself sitting up late printing tickets, booking tours, securing rental cars, etc.
Take care of things early!
I eat an early dinner and head to bed, confident in my preparations, and drift into a relaxed slumber. The morning of the flight may be seriously difficult depending on the hour of my flight, so an early bedtime the night before is very important. I always find it a crazed combination of exhaustion and excitement, and the excitement normally wins once I remember why my alarm went off at 4 a.m..
How I spend my time at the airport:
What I do once I arrive at the airport is dependent on my flight. I will desperately crave coffee, however, it depends on the time of my flight and how long I have for the coffee to either kick in or wear off. If I find myself having several hours before my flight, I will grab some. I want to be able to sleep on the plane, so I will need my fix to make it through the waiting time. Grab a bite to eat as well, make sure it is a substance which is actually healthy and can give energy for you to burn off.
I get bored quickly, so I will also walk the airport, exploring all the hallways, nooks, and crannies. Some airports have meditation rooms, museums, bars, etc. I sip my coffee while I walk about, and once I am thoroughly tired of walking, I will settle into a chair or a corner on the floor and exhaust my eyes with any movies I have downloaded (check out downloading movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime!). By the time my flight is announced, I am more exhausted than I have ever been. My eyes will be begging for a nap, and I will just want to curl into my uncomfortable, too narrow, airplane seat by someone who likely smells terrible, and fall asleep.
This was my flight from Chicago at 4am to Baltimore, where I would spend the day in the airport before my connecting flight to Europe. I would never stay up on an overseas flight. You can tell by the very last clip just how exhausted (and delirious) I was.
Sleep is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? But wait! Don’t just fall asleep.
An extra step I take when preparing for my trip is to research the time zone and figure out the time difference. I live in central time, so if I am traveling to London, I know that it is 6 hours ahead of my home. The second I am on the flight, I change my watch to be in the London time zone. I then set my alarm to go off shortly before landing, at a normal time for me to wake up, such as 8 a.m..
To make your morning routine a bit easier, I recommend using a smart watch with a vibrating alarm. I use the Pebble Steel when I travel and love it for so many reasons! The silent, vibrating alarm is a lifesaver, especially when I am sleeping in a hostel room full of exhausted travelers and I have an early morning tour I can’t miss. There is nothing worse than a loud, chiming alarm clock waking you up. And no one likes being awakened by an alarm that isn’t their own.
I also love being able to track how far we travel each day. I am a hugely fond of walking when I travel, and getting my Pebble opened my eyes. According to the pedometer, I often hit 15 miles a day on foot! That’s a lot of sightseeing!
The wheels are on the land and not only did sleeping rejuvenate me, it made the flight seem so fast. Thanks to sleeping on the flight, I am now ready to explore the city for the entire day without jetlag present. I will probably head to bed a little early the first night, but I will always be sure to set my alarm for 8 a.m. the next morning. I can quickly become fully acclimated to my new time zone and thoroughly enjoy and make the most of every minute of my adventure.
How do you prepare for travel?
What solutions have you found for beating jet lag? I’d love to hear the techniques you have all discovered, so share below!