Holidaying in another time zone often means being the victim of jet lag, which can make the first few days of your trip tough. Here are a few tricks I've used over my years of travelling to make sure jet lag doesn't stop me from making the most of my holiday time.
Image from photoverulam.
If jet lag slows you down for two or three days during your week-long trip, almost half your trip has been affected! My main goal in that situation is to adjust as quickly as possible to my new time zone and minimise activities I lose out on because I'm tempted to sleep in or take long naps. Here's what I do:
- Have a plan to get going in the morning. If you know you're going to have trouble waking up, figure out ahead of time how you're going to force yourself out of bed. Try scheduling coffee and breakfast to be delivered at a certain time by room service or pre-paying for a morning tour so there's a cost to sleeping in. Give yourself an incentive.
- Get moving and outdoors. If your destination allows for it, do activities in the morning that keep you moving and exposed to sunlight. This will help you feel more awake mentally and physically. Take a walking tour around a local site (my favourite is temple ruins) or go for a hike.
- Build in breaks, but try not to sleep. You're going to get tired during the day, so plan to take a break either mid-day or in the late afternoon. Use this time to recharge by reading, listening to music, or just people watching. Try not to nap, or if you do, make it a short one with several alarms to get you up after 15 or 20 minutes. Your sleep cycle will get even more messed up if you nap through the afternoon.
- Put your "must do" activities later in the trip. It's OK if you struggle to stick to the above and end up spending the first few days sleeping at odd times, but to offset that risk, you should schedule the activities you really want to do for after the first few days so you definitely don't miss out on them.
- Make falling asleep easier. Have a bedtime routine to help you relax at night. You should also try to avoid caffeine and alcohol in the afternoon and evening so they don't mess with your sleep cycle. I know, I know, you're on holiday, you deserve a fancy cocktail with an umbrella in it! Just know that cocktail could mess with your sleep quality, so plan an easy morning the next day to compensate.
Jet lag is hard to avoid, but it doesn't have to ruin your holiday if you have a plan to beat it.