Updated June 1, 2020.
Do you love jet lag? Neither do we! It seems like the older I get, the more jet lag effects me. But there are a few ways to use jet lag to our advantage. Nothing should stop you when you travel!
Going Back in Time
When you travel to a faraway timezone that is behind your own (for example, Washington, D.C., to Hawaii with a 6 hour time difference), this is really a pretty good situation. You’ll be up early, so here are some ways to use your extra time, maybe even before daylight!
1. Work Out
It’s counterintuitive, but working out in the morning will give you energy for the rest of your day. That will combat the probable afternoon slump you might otherwise experience.
2. Plan Your Day
You’re finally at your vacation destination, but you didn’t have time to plan everything out before you went? No problem! You have a few extra, energetic hours before the sun comes up to do a little research on the best way to go about your day.
3. Get a Head Start
Going on a road trip at your destination? Get a jump start and beat the traffic!
4. Feel Refreshed; You’re Sleeping In!
Well, you’re sleeping in compared to when you might typically wake up at home. Embrace the fact that you’re sleeping in, but you have the whole day ahead of you. Enjoy feeling refreshed in the morning. I don’t know about you, but my typical mornings at home are not “refreshing.”
5. Plan Early Events
This is the best way to truly take advantage of your jet lag. Plan a sunrise tour, like a lava boat tour on Hawaii’s Big Island, or perhaps plan on a sunrise run on a scenic trail, beach, mountain, or hillside.
Going into the Future
There’s no way around it, this is the more difficult way to go. But fear not! You can definitely use some late night time
Heading to Spain? Lucky you, their days don’t really start until 8:00 pm!
2. Energy at the End of your Day
Do you usually run out of steam in the afternoon or evening back home? Embrace your late jet lag and go to a fancy dinner, see a late play, or find a unique event in the area that only happens at night. Catty Shack Ranch feeds their big cats at night because they’re nocturnal animals!
3. Get Some Reading Done
I’m usually so sleepy by the time we go to bed that I don’t have time to read, which is something I love but don’t have time for during the day. Visit the hotel’s spa, bring some soaking salts for a relaxing bath, or just lay in bed and read until you feel relaxed enough to sleep.
4. Plan for Tomorrow
Not really a night life person but feel like you should be doing something since you can’t go to sleep? Plan for the next day! Get yourself organized for the next day: pull out the next day’s clothes, go over your “must do” list for your travels, or just write some things down so they’re not in your head anymore. You might be surprised at how much more relaxed you are when you clear some of those things out of your head.
Be the Boss (of Your Jet Lag)
There are some things you can do to minimize and shorten your jet lag. The general rule is that however many time zones you cross, that’s how many days it will take to get over your jet lag. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
1. Drink Plenty of Water
Hydration solves a lot of problems! If you stay hydrated on the plane to or from your destination (minimum 8 ounces every hour), you will recover from your jet lag more effectively. But don’t stop when you get off the plane. Shoot for a gallon a day (128 ounces, or 16 cups). If that sounds like a lot, shoot for half a gallon per day. Remember that non-caffeinated teas count, too!
2. Eat at Meal Times–Hungry or Not
Even if you’re not hungry when it’s time for a meal, eat a little something to signal to your body that it’s feeding time. Have a piece of fruit, some cereal, or maybe some toast with jelly. It doesn’t have to be a big meal, just something that tells your body to get back on schedule.
3. Try some tea
Find yourself wide awake at midnight with no sleep in sight? Try an herbal tea with nothing added–sugars and honey will have a stimulating effect. I like chamomile, lavender, or other herbal, non-caffeinated teas. (Sorry, Earl Grey and English Breakfast tea are no good for late nights!)
4. Let the light shine in.
Open the curtains, blinds, shutters, etc. Whatever is keeping the light out, remove it! Your body will naturally adjust with the sun better than with any kind of artificial means–even better than with caffeine.
5. No Napping
Try really hard not to nap. Go for a walk outside, call someone and talk for a while, start a project, clean–whatever it takes to pass the time until the drowsiness passes!
6. Indulge Your Coffee Obsession–in the Morning
I let myself enjoy a lot of coffee when I’m jet lagged. But I stop all caffeine at 10:00 am! Otherwise I’m more likely to stay up too late at night and feel too groggy all over again the next morning.
Want more? You’ll find everything you need on my Travel Tips Page!
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