How To Deal With Jetlag: My Tips & Strategies

How To Deal With Jetlag: My Tips & Strategies

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There are endless articles out there with tips from “experts” about how to overcome jetlag. As someone who has flown millions of miles and has spent a countless number of nights in timezones very far away from home, I figured I’d share my take.

In addition to sharing some general tips for overcoming jetlag, I wanted to also talk about why I’m not as obsessed with getting over jetlag as others. Let me start by saying that this advice is intended primarily for people traveling for leisure, rather than those who are on whirlwind international business trips.

I don’t buy into “traditional” jetlag advice

The way I view it, there’s some traditional advice for avoiding jetlag that I don’t follow. I’m not saying it’s bad advice, but I just question why one should even bother. For example:

  • Already start to adjust to your new timezone days before you leave on your trip, by getting up progressively earlier or later — that seems like a lot of effort
  • Don’t drink alcohol or eat on the plane, but rather go straight to sleep — okay, totally fine if you’re flying economy, but you haven’t been racking up all these miles with credit cards in order to drink water in Emirates first class, right? 😉
  • Change your watch to the local time at your destination as soon as you leave home, so you can start acclimating — fair enough, but that’s not some magical pixy dust that’s going to make you adjust… oh, and I also don’t own a watch
  • Always stay on local time when you get to your destination, and don’t nap — naps are kind of amazing, though, and who doesn’t love an afternoon siesta?
What I’m drinking in Emirates first class… sorry, not sorry

Why I’m not intimidated by jetlag

While I generally try to adjust to local time when traveling internationally, I’m not obsessed with it in quite the way other people are. Why?

  • I get up at 5AM when I’m at home, and I love being a morning person, so if I get up an hour or two earlier (or later than usual), it’s not a big deal; I feel like jetlag advice is largely for people who are late risers, who don’t want to get up early
  • I kind of love the feeling of being jetlagged; I love making a coffee at 3AM in my hotel room, getting some work done, going to the gym, and still being the first person at breakfast
  • I have the flexibility to work from anywhere, and I also work whenever I travel, so I try to have at least some of my day overlap with US business hours; since my travels aren’t generally a “once in a lifetime” holiday where I have no work, I don’t have the same obsession with being perfectly adjusted that many other people have
I love being awake when most people are sleeping

My tips & strategies for dealing with jetlag

With the above out of the way, I figured I’d share my tips and strategies for dealing with jetlag while in timezones that are far away from home. In no particular order:

Stay out of your hotel room as much as possible

If you’re like me, your hotel room is also your office when traveling. But that’s also a slippery slope. Your room might have a mediocre office desk and a very comfortable bed. So if you’re anything like me, you might get off a long haul flight, then go sit at your desk in your room, and then slowly start working from bed, and then… zzzzz.

Therefore while adjusting to a new timezone, I always recommend staying out of your room as much as possible if you don’t want to sleep. Get some fresh air and sightsee, go to the gym, or if you want to work, go to a coffeeshop, the hotel lobby, or the hotel club lounge, assuming you have access. This will help you avoid the temptation to sleep.

A hotel club lounge can be a great place to work from

Don’t nap after 2PM

This is quite possibly the most important point for me. Some people say you shouldn’t nap at all when battling jet lag. I don’t think that’s necessary.

For example, if you have a long haul flight and land at your destination at 6AM, in my opinion you should nap so that you’re refreshed. The key, though, is to avoid a nap late in the day. Based on my preferred schedule (getting up around 5AM, going to bed at around 9PM), I never nap after 2PM.

When I try to nap after 2PM that typically turns into a full-on slumber, and that’s not good for adjusting timezones.

Don’t nap late in the day (unless you’re Winston)

Use the power of caffeine

Others will disagree with me on this, but in this post I’m sharing my tips, so too bad. 😉 I love coffee in general, and in particular when traveling. When it’s the afternoon on my first day at a new destination and I’m tempted to nap, I instead leave my hotel room and try to find a great cup of coffee somewhere.

That kills many birds with one stone — I get caffeine, fresh air, and I pass time.

A good coffee goes a long way!

Don’t leave your phone next to your bed when sleeping

Once you finally do fall asleep for the night and are trying to overcome jetlag, I recommend not putting your phone within easy reach from where you’re sleeping. Why? When I wake up in the middle of the night I’m tempted to just look at my phone briefly, but once that happens, I’m wide awake. After all, life is continuing in my timezone back home, and I have all kinds of emails, messages, etc.

So instead I leave my phone face down and far away. I turn on a white noise app, and I can choose for how long I want it to play. For example, I might play it for six hours — then rather than looking at what time it is, I can tell by the noise whether six hours has passed since I fell asleep. I have a much easier time going back to sleep when I don’t look at my phone.

Avoid being distracted while trying to sleep

Being up at weird times isn’t that bad

I hinted at this earlier, but I think it’s worth emphasizing — being jetlagged isn’t that bad, and on some level I’d encourage people to embrace it. Some of my fondest travel memories have involved wandering foreign streets in the middle of the night. There’s something beautiful about being up before everyone, and watching the sun rise (if that’s not something you’d usually do).

Sure, try to adjust to local time as much as you can, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it exactly right. You can see a destination in a whole different way at off hours. For that matter, there’s something really nice about taking an afternoon nap if you got up much earlier than usual. I especially love this in tropical destinations where it may be ridiculously hot in the afternoons.

Who doesn’t love a sunrise beach walk?!

Pick your arrival times deliberately

I find that timing when I arrive at a destination can have a big impact on how I do with jetlag. Coming from the East Coast of the United States, here are my general preferences for the time at which I like to arrive at destinations:

  • For Europe, I like to arrive as late in the morning or early in the afternoon as possible; this allows me to avoid napping the first day, and then I’m deliriously tired by bedtime, and get a good night of sleep
  • For the Middle East and Africa, I prefer to arrive in the early evening; it has usually been a very long travel day, and my best bet is to have dinner or take a walk, then go to sleep, and then wake up early the next morning (as usual)
  • For most of the rest of Asia I don’t have that strong of a preference one way or another, since it’s such a massive time change, and it’s going to be a struggle no matter what; I generally prefer an early morning arrival with the possibility of a nap, assuming my hotel room is ready, but that’s a whole different adventure
  • For “deep” South America you have to take a long flight but the timezone hasn’t really changed, so I prefer taking an overnight flight to travel as efficiently as possible, and then I’ll try to take a nap early on my first day
I prefer midday arrivals in Europe

Enjoy your flights

This counters typical jetlag advice, but OMAAT is largely about helping people maximize their rewards to travel in comfort. Maybe I’m just still a kid at heart, because the prevailing “beating jetlag” thought process seems to be to board a plane, not eat or drink anything, and go straight to sleep.

Not only do I struggle sleeping when there’s a meal service (because of the noise, smell, lights, etc.), but for that matter a large part of what I love about first & business travel is the inflight service, especially on top airlines.

So while this perhaps isn’t great jetlag advice, by all means enjoy and maximize a flight if you’re looking forward to it. Have some great food and drinks, take a nap (or don’t), and you can figure out your jetlag situation when you’re on the ground. Of course this assumes that you’re traveling for leisure, and aren’t traveling for business and need to hit the ground running on arrival.

I’ll always try to enjoy premium cabin flights

Bottom line

I’ve certainly done my fair share of long haul travel over the years, and the above is my general approach to dealing with jetlag. As you can tell, I don’t pursue a “zero jetlag” strategy, but rather try to find a happy middle ground. I’m a very early riser anyway, so if I get up an hour or two earlier or later, it doesn’t really matter to me. If anything, I hate when I get up at 8AM or later, since I feel like I’ve already wasted half of the day (yes, I’m weird).

Personally when trying to adjust to a new timezone I try to stay out of my hotel room as much as possible, drink coffee (and use finding a good cup of coffee as an activity any hour of the day), avoid afternoon naps (and embrace morning naps), put my phone far away from me when sleeping, etc.

What’s your strategy for dealing with jetlag when traveling?

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  1. qofmiwok

    You kinda love the idea of feeling jetlagged? Sorry, that's weird. You must get a different kind of jetlagged. It's not about a weird sleep/wake cycle. My jetlag makes me feel like I'm in a fog, and it's certainly not conducive to enjoying travel.

    The only thing that really worked for me is following the the Skiplagged app for 3 days before travel.

  2. Alan

    I love the "embrace the jetlag" advice. I actually totally agree. Even when I get back to NY from a trip to Asia and I wake up at 4am, I stroll down an empty Manhattan St (which really is only possible around that time) and go to a 24hr diner and then nap lol.

  3. Dom

    Being jetlagged is a natural body response to disruption in its routine. It has got absolutely nothing to do with fatigue or things like that. So DO NOT use any preventive medication to treat it. As a flight attendant who still has his job, I don't really recommend business travellers attempt the red eye for a morning arrival. If your dealing with a long haul flight, choose a departure just after breakfast time for you,...

    Being jetlagged is a natural body response to disruption in its routine. It has got absolutely nothing to do with fatigue or things like that. So DO NOT use any preventive medication to treat it. As a flight attendant who still has his job, I don't really recommend business travellers attempt the red eye for a morning arrival. If your dealing with a long haul flight, choose a departure just after breakfast time for you, or just before your typical bedtime.

    For long haul flights, the second meal is typically breakfast. EAT IT. I mean, dig in. Customers of Caucasian descent tend to not eat breakfast, and just do fruits and coffee. Don't drink coffee unless you've finished breakfast, never on an empty stomach. Choose what you're comfortable with. If a scrambled eggs and sausage is what you're comfortable with, pick that.

    For passengers arriving in Asia, if you find a local joint selling milk tea, order it. It'll be sweet as hell but it'll get the juices pumping. Also, try not to arrive in Asia in the morning. Even for business travellers. Nobody's ready to receive you.

    Especially for those connecting at Incheon from the Americas, if your flight arrives at 3am, 4am, don't connect to the Asia morning departures. Instead, enter Korea, take the AREX to Seoul station and take things easy. If you don't know anything, just ask. Everyone by now across Asia will be pretty fluent in simple conversational English by now.

  4. Pavel

    jetlag is part of the fun. embrace it. when i was in my 20s, i could fly 18+ hours including layovers to AKL, hop in a rental car at dawn, drive an hour into the city and spend all day and night drinking with friends. now, at 40, i find myself taking 2+ days to fully recover (eastbound is worse) and i need to really take it easy the first couple of nights in any...

    jetlag is part of the fun. embrace it. when i was in my 20s, i could fly 18+ hours including layovers to AKL, hop in a rental car at dawn, drive an hour into the city and spend all day and night drinking with friends. now, at 40, i find myself taking 2+ days to fully recover (eastbound is worse) and i need to really take it easy the first couple of nights in any destination.

    but some of my best memories have been a result of jet lag sleeplessness. late night kissaten meals in tokyo with the truckers and insomniacs. walks through paris and rome where no one else is around and the city is all mine. sitting backwards on the beach in SF and watching the sun come up over the city.

    (i do think setting your watch to local time as soon as you board helps, though. you're in a windowless cabin for hours—it's easy to start convincing your brain that you're already on local time.)

  5. PeterL

    @Anastasia - I also had insomnia problems and got Ambien prescribed by my doctor. But I've found low-dose melatonin to be more effective with jetlag and it also results in better sleep (you might want to read "Why We Sleep" by Dr Matthew Walker (a sleep researcher at UC Berkeley) for more on melatonin, caffeine, sleeping pills, etc.)

  6. Anastasia

    I love how your advice is for people who can actually fall asleep. For those of us with insomnia, the problem with jetlag is that we can barely fall asleep in our own time zone, let alone a new one. My solution for years has been medication.

  7. Robert Fahr

    When traveling to London from the U.S., the day flight solves all jet lag issues for me. Getting to the hotel at midnight with a light meal and a little telly totally gets me on local time.

  8. James

    Pre pandemic, I used to travel LHR-LAX and back several times a year. I worked out that the optimum time to depart LHR is around 11am/midday, so that you don't have to get up batsh1t early to get to Heathrow. And then arriving at LAX around 3pm local time, is perfect. You can get to your accommodation, have a drink and an early supper, and try and stay awake till around 9pm. Departing LAX around...

    Pre pandemic, I used to travel LHR-LAX and back several times a year. I worked out that the optimum time to depart LHR is around 11am/midday, so that you don't have to get up batsh1t early to get to Heathrow. And then arriving at LAX around 3pm local time, is perfect. You can get to your accommodation, have a drink and an early supper, and try and stay awake till around 9pm. Departing LAX around 6pm gives you most of the working day in Los Angeles, and you can have a snack on the plane and go to sleep for a few hours, and then arriving at LHR around midday local time gives you access to the Arrivals Lounge to freshen up and there's still a good chunk of the day left. Jetlag? Pah!

  9. Carrie

    Sunshine is my antidote to jet lag or at the very least, a brisk walk under overcast skies in winter. As an Australian, we do not have the luxury of timing most long haul flights and thus travellers face an early morning arrival into Europe, the Middle East or America; but a good dose of vitamin D, a catch up on OMAAT reviews and finding the perfect cafe works for me. The home journey seems to exacerbate jet lag but I suspect that is just psychology.

  10. Christ

    Staying out of my room the first few afternoons works for me. And popping 2-3mg melatonin if I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep.

  11. Truptravels

    For me it comes down to 2 things, water and sleep/naps.
    I need to stay hydrated and drink water every chance i can. I am probably drinking alcohol and coffee as well, which means i need even more water.
    For sleep its mental and i tell myself i may not get a full nights sleep of 7 hours. If i get 5 hours of sleep, and a 2 hour nap, then i will...

    For me it comes down to 2 things, water and sleep/naps.
    I need to stay hydrated and drink water every chance i can. I am probably drinking alcohol and coffee as well, which means i need even more water.
    For sleep its mental and i tell myself i may not get a full nights sleep of 7 hours. If i get 5 hours of sleep, and a 2 hour nap, then i will be good. (same for plane, i dont expect to get 10 hours of sleep on a long haul trip, but if i get 3 2-hour naps in, i will be happy.)

  12. Irish Leprechaun

    I just drink until I’m gooned. Pass out. Wake up hung over. More booze at hotel. Terrible cycle, but it works.

  13. dander

    We try to stay up until the usual sleep time at our destination. I do enjoy to eat on the plane even though american flag carriers have sucky food in economy. I don't see the value of upgrading to business or first. but that's just me.

  14. ac

    any idea why singapore and cathay choose to arrive at night HKG to SFO? Arriving at night after a 12 hour flight and not being able to sleep was some of the worse jetlag I've had.

  15. Tj

    Agree with everything, except - i tried the time adjustment before leaving and it made a difference. So i recommend adjusting sleep schedules a few days before leaving

  16. Trista

    On the plane, I simply adjust my hours to the location that I'm going. Say it's a 15 hour flight LAX to Singapore. Arriving in the morning. I take 8 hours back. That means I need to stay up on the plane for 7 hours. Go to sleep, wake up and I'm there in the morning. I am now on local time. I apply this to all my long hauls. I work backwards and apply it to my local destination.

  17. Rob

    As someone who travels regularly to Hong Kong from the US Midwest and East Coast, I have a very simple two-step routine for adjusting immediately and almost completely every time: choose a midday flight (late morning to early afternoon departure) and pull an all-nighter before it.

    The reasoning is just as simple: since HK is 13/14 hours (savings/standard) ahead of the Midwest, being tired enough to sleep immediately means you'll be sleeping during your...

    As someone who travels regularly to Hong Kong from the US Midwest and East Coast, I have a very simple two-step routine for adjusting immediately and almost completely every time: choose a midday flight (late morning to early afternoon departure) and pull an all-nighter before it.

    The reasoning is just as simple: since HK is 13/14 hours (savings/standard) ahead of the Midwest, being tired enough to sleep immediately means you'll be sleeping during your destination's night. Voila! You'll wake up more or less when the locals do. The flight is so long that you won't miss anything substantial in the way of food and drinks.

  18. beachfan

    overall good notes, but the idea that you shouldn't nap late in the day is mistaken. It seems like the issue is you don't nap , you talk a long rest.

    If you fly from the West Coast and have a connection, you will arrive at your hotel in the afternoon often. If you haven't gotten more than 4 hours sleep, the idea you should power through from 2pm to 10pm is not a help.

    ...

    overall good notes, but the idea that you shouldn't nap late in the day is mistaken. It seems like the issue is you don't nap , you talk a long rest.

    If you fly from the West Coast and have a connection, you will arrive at your hotel in the afternoon often. If you haven't gotten more than 4 hours sleep, the idea you should power through from 2pm to 10pm is not a help.

    I always talk a 2 hour nap after arrival TATL at 2pm on my hotel. NEVER more than two hours. Always able to go to sleep by 10 pm (which is early for me). If I don't nap, I don't make it until 9, then I'm up at 4 am.

  19. Econometrics

    Good tips here, Ben. Truly.

    I think the most important ones you've shared are - Stay out of the hotel room, don't nap late in the day when your body is crashing, and pick flight times wisely.

    The strategy that I've found to work the best is the Beth Israel strategy. And I think the most important components of that strategy are fasting, drinking lots of water, not drinking alcohol, and speeding your...

    Good tips here, Ben. Truly.

    I think the most important ones you've shared are - Stay out of the hotel room, don't nap late in the day when your body is crashing, and pick flight times wisely.

    The strategy that I've found to work the best is the Beth Israel strategy. And I think the most important components of that strategy are fasting, drinking lots of water, not drinking alcohol, and speeding your circadian rhythm up via fasting/eating.

    Lastly, your point of just "going with the flow" aka being up at odd times isn't that bad is the best. You just have to roll with it. No two trips have ever been the same for me, no matter how much strategic effort I've put into it.

  20. Alison

    I find arriving in Europe late afternoon works best for us. Walk as much as possible, have dinner and then go to bed, no earlier than 9/10. We are coming from California so we are always on an overnight long flight or two. Tired for a couple of days but then ok. We do struggle coming home with bad jet lag, but that’s also probably going back to work. Fly biz but never sleep well on planes.

  21. D3kingg

    I just let it be and don’t pay attention to jet lag but a good arrival time to your destination is good.
    I once positioned myself from Houston to SFO before flying BA first class on the A380 to LHR. I was exhausted by going back two hours to the pacific time zone for a day and then heading to London. Versus being in London well rested , arriving at the concord lounge and flying BA First back to the states the experience may have been more enjoyable.

  22. Uri

    My recipe to for a 10 timezone, 14 flight hour business trip:

    Westbound - sleep late and a lot.
    Take off around midnight, eat, watch a movie, go to sleep only when I drop.
    I wake up at maybe 3am local time, need to stay up until 9pm. Lots of coffee helps.

    Eastbound - sleep early and little.
    Take off 10pm, quick meal and go to sleep. I only allow myself 5...

    My recipe to for a 10 timezone, 14 flight hour business trip:

    Westbound - sleep late and a lot.
    Take off around midnight, eat, watch a movie, go to sleep only when I drop.
    I wake up at maybe 3am local time, need to stay up until 9pm. Lots of coffee helps.

    Eastbound - sleep early and little.
    Take off 10pm, quick meal and go to sleep. I only allow myself 5 hours of sleep, and when I wake up it's 2pm at the destination. One coffee to properly wake up, and no more.
    Go to bed at midnight. I was up only 10 hours, but I'm tied because I slept so little the last "night".

    Westbound is easier for me, as I'm a late sleeper, so postponing sleep comes naturally.
    A lie flat sit really helps.

  23. Farnick

    Really good article Lucky thank you for doing something thoughtful, useful and original.

    And as other commenters have alluded to, advancing age certainly seems to make jetlag harder to cope with. You sleep much better and easier in your twenties. Although you could argue that flying in economy was a better experience then before the low cost airlines, I could easily sleep in economy class back in the day on a night flight, now...

    Really good article Lucky thank you for doing something thoughtful, useful and original.

    And as other commenters have alluded to, advancing age certainly seems to make jetlag harder to cope with. You sleep much better and easier in your twenties. Although you could argue that flying in economy was a better experience then before the low cost airlines, I could easily sleep in economy class back in the day on a night flight, now I struggle to sleep in Business Class no matter the time zone.

  24. Mick

    For kids I’d say fly as late as possible to Europe. They’ll always want an hour to watch tv, eat etc then when that is over they should be tired enough to sleep. You land later (eg 11am) and there’s less time to stay awake.

    And after that there is some go with the flow. My kids and I swam in the pool at Hk airport till 1130pm after arrival. Then went and had...

    For kids I’d say fly as late as possible to Europe. They’ll always want an hour to watch tv, eat etc then when that is over they should be tired enough to sleep. You land later (eg 11am) and there’s less time to stay awake.

    And after that there is some go with the flow. My kids and I swam in the pool at Hk airport till 1130pm after arrival. Then went and had some food.

    If you fly to early (eg 430pm ord Vienna your kids will finally go to sleep with one hour until landing lolll)

    Also, more so when I’m solo. I find drinking helps :). Few beers at dinner and you’ll go to bed easy :)

  25. John

    lucky. wow I can't believe you don't wear a watch. why is that? and how do you tell time? Is there any reason why you don't wear a watch?

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ John -- Isn't that what iPhones are for? ;)

    2. john

      Perhaps one doesn't always have his iPhone or phone with him all of the time.

      When I'm having dinner at a restaurant or anything like that I don't have my phone with me because I like to enjoy my company and not be on my phone. Also I don't take a phone overseas I don't want to be burdened with it.

    3. khatl

      agree. It's almost magical that anyone knows the time these days without wearing a watch. Yet, I know only a handful of people that wear one. Maybe there's some other innovation invented in the past ~25 years that I don't know about or it's telepathy? Sure is strange

  26. Donna

    I make on average eight long haul international trips to the EU annually and have been doing this for decades now. The old story “East is a beast, west is best,” pretty much applies to my experience traveling from California through nine time zones to the EU. These days, I’m fortunate to travel in Business Class so I get a nap across the Atlantic and I’m good on arrival day. I never nap on any...

    I make on average eight long haul international trips to the EU annually and have been doing this for decades now. The old story “East is a beast, west is best,” pretty much applies to my experience traveling from California through nine time zones to the EU. These days, I’m fortunate to travel in Business Class so I get a nap across the Atlantic and I’m good on arrival day. I never nap on any day that I’m there nor when I return to the USA. Typically, even though I am dead tired on day one evening, I have trouble sleeping so I take an OTC Benadryl tablet, which knocks me out and doesn’t leave me with an early morning sleep aid hangover sluggish feeling. Repeat second night if necessary. After that, I’m good. Returning, I sleep easily until about 4 am California time and then just get up and get on with an early day. Exercise by jogging each day both going and returning home. I might have a glass of wine in the lounges each way and a glass of champagne or Prosecco on the international flights but that’s about it.

  27. Peter

    It's all about being outside for me and napping as little as possible. I have no problem struggling through the first day and getting a good night sleep that evening, trying to make it to about 10pm. The key for me is setting an alarm for no later than 8:30am the next day. Having a full night of sleep and up fairly early, I am on the time almost immediately.
    Coming home is much...

    It's all about being outside for me and napping as little as possible. I have no problem struggling through the first day and getting a good night sleep that evening, trying to make it to about 10pm. The key for me is setting an alarm for no later than 8:30am the next day. Having a full night of sleep and up fairly early, I am on the time almost immediately.
    Coming home is much tougher for me, which is funny as I almost get the opposite response from others.
    @Ben - unrelated - I cannot get the "login" button to load. Not sure if anyone else is experiencing that.

  28. brianna hoffner

    I've had a lot of success doing the Argonne National Laboratory Anti-Jet Lag fasting routine. Briefly: before your trip you begin fasting when you'd be asleep in your target time zone. I swear by it.

    If you can't do that, honestly, just get some Provigil (Modafinil) and, after you land, pop one of those at noon and you'll be awake and not jittery until 9pm.

  29. WR2

    To Asia I prefer evening arrival, then straight to sleep since I probably didn't sleep much on the long flight, wake up, and really no jetlag at all. Maybe the excitement and adrenaline powers me through.
    But when I get home is when jetlag is killer. I'll be jetlagged for a week or two upon returning. Too easy temptation for a nap. I'll try the 2pm rule next time.

    1. TranceXplant

      I agree. The strategy I posted above (as Rob, since the login link wasn't working) still works to some extent on the return trip, but the times on the clock somehow make the adjustment harder. Departing from Hong Kong at, say, 3pm and then arriving in Chicago at roughly the same time on the same day seems to play tricks on the mind. So it always takes me a bit longer to adjust than when I'm traveling in the other direction.

  30. Eskimo

    @Lucky

    It's easy to do exactly what you said in your 20s.
    A bit harder but still doable in your 30s.
    By the time you're in your 40s you will try to do all those methods and would fail in all of them.
    In your 50s, jetlag is a thing and you need days to recover.
    In your 60s, you probably nap enough with or without jetlag.

  31. Ryan

    What premium cabin is that in your last picture? I want!

  32. Richard

    I actually don't think you take your advice far enough:

    If you are tired, sleep.

    In many cities, you can eat any hour of the day. If we have taken that forbidden 4-hour nap at 4pm, we eat a late dinner and go for drinks and get back to bed at midnight. Sure we wake up again at 4am, but guess what--finding a local breakfast spot (they exist in every major city of...

    I actually don't think you take your advice far enough:

    If you are tired, sleep.

    In many cities, you can eat any hour of the day. If we have taken that forbidden 4-hour nap at 4pm, we eat a late dinner and go for drinks and get back to bed at midnight. Sure we wake up again at 4am, but guess what--finding a local breakfast spot (they exist in every major city of the world) can be an amazing cultural experience. Watching a city come alive is absolutely remarkable. The only real advice is to just not stress about it. You are travelling. Let go and enjoy the ride.

    1. Ethan

      It’s one thing if you’re going to cities with vibrant night life, like lower latitude, warmer cities.
      But if you’re going to cities with bare minimum night life, or most sight seeing / activities happen during day, it’s gonna be brutal and wasteful, like for example, Kyoto.

    2. Eskimo

      @Ethan

      I guess you've never been to Pontocho. Or just take Shinkansen to Osaka.
      Or you've mistaken Kyoto with Pyongyang.

  33. PeterL

    Melatonin 0.5-1mg taken the day before arrival at approximately bedtime in the destination and another dose at bedtime after arrival. (This is tl;dr advice from a Stanford University sleep researcher) With melatonin, more is not better -- a larger dose can be less effective than a small dose. The idea is to get an early start on resetting your body clock, and it seems to help.
    (Eastbound is much worse than westbound)

  34. khatl

    Think your strategy on arrival times is good. Often the issue with Europe flights from the NE is that they're just too short, so I'll deliberately look to fly out of MIA, ATL, ORD etc. to make them a bit longer, so I can actually get reasonable sleep on the plane. My strategy for night flights to Europe is avoid the food or maybe just the dessert, but with some liquor or another to help...

    Think your strategy on arrival times is good. Often the issue with Europe flights from the NE is that they're just too short, so I'll deliberately look to fly out of MIA, ATL, ORD etc. to make them a bit longer, so I can actually get reasonable sleep on the plane. My strategy for night flights to Europe is avoid the food or maybe just the dessert, but with some liquor or another to help me relax.

    Day time Europe flights definitely a good option as well, but as you note, there's not a lot of them.

    As for other places, I agree that landing late afternoon / early evening is the best strategy for ME, Africa... and you're right that Asia generally is a wash as you're gonna be upside down anyway.

    My only other advice is to get out into the open air wherever you are. Daylight/sunshine help your body adjust and also keep you awake when you feel like you're just about to drop off to sleep at 3pm

  35. Clem

    Most of my international travel is between the US and Europe. I'll either take the earliest flight out, with a 5-6am arrival, and nap until noon or 1pm; or like you I'll take the last flight out, arrive mid day and power through the rest of the day.

    I know you talk a whole lot about being an early riser, while I'm more of a night owl. Watching the sunrise is great, but so is...

    Most of my international travel is between the US and Europe. I'll either take the earliest flight out, with a 5-6am arrival, and nap until noon or 1pm; or like you I'll take the last flight out, arrive mid day and power through the rest of the day.

    I know you talk a whole lot about being an early riser, while I'm more of a night owl. Watching the sunrise is great, but so is watching the sunset :) . The only problem with waking up so early is that it means going to bed very early and also missing out on a lot of stuff.

  36. Andy

    I couldn’t agree more, this is exactly what I think too.

    In terms of getting back to the US, at least from Europe I find it’s rarely as difficult as on the outbound, but find I’m always tired at work even on a normal week so I just ride the caffeine train in the same way and don’t really struggle.

  37. Jumpseatflyer

    I think dealing with jet lag is quite an individual thing as it depends a lot on your personal preferences, lifestyle, and work environment.

    Personally, I am a solar powered person, so daylight makes a huge difference to me. Even after a night with barely any sleep, I can get through a day if I stick to the local rhythm. That's kind of the positive thing for me about having to follow regular working times....

    I think dealing with jet lag is quite an individual thing as it depends a lot on your personal preferences, lifestyle, and work environment.

    Personally, I am a solar powered person, so daylight makes a huge difference to me. Even after a night with barely any sleep, I can get through a day if I stick to the local rhythm. That's kind of the positive thing for me about having to follow regular working times. I have to get up to be at the office on time so I am forced to get up even after a short night. That way, I can usually adjust within around 2 days.

    On the other side, I am quite susceptible to insomnia, so when traveling east, I have to be very careful about napping or sleeping in too long as it will totally upset my sleeping patterns. Traveling west is much easier for me as I can just sleep early and wake up early.

    Overall, a bit of self-discipline and a packed schedule helps me the most to more or less stick to the local timezone, and I totally agree that it doesn't always have to be a 100% fit.

  38. Chris

    Isn't your strategy different for flying east vs. west? On a noon flight from Europe to the U.S. for example, I don't recommend sleeping. Just force yourself to make it til an early bedtime, and you're good to go in a couple days.

    Doesn't help when AA personnel lock the 787 window shades on dark at noon, but I digress.

  39. Harrie

    When I tire my eyes become very dry and start to hurt. Therefore, when I travel through time zones I always take (long lasting) eye drops with me. I get tired, my eyes start to hurt, I pop some eye drops in my eyes and tiredness lessens. Often I even pop some drops in after I leave the plane, jet-lagged or not. It works for me.

  40. Greg

    Also what's your strategy when you get back to the US?

    That seems the tougher one as you're more 'forced' into a business schedule

  41. Nick R

    Interesting! Thanks for all the insight.

    When you do trip series where you basically travel around the world in ~5-ish days, what type of sleep schedule do you stick with?

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ Nick R -- My whirlwind round the world trips involve very, very little sleep. I basically take Winston's approach to sleeping -- I sleep a couple of hours at a time whenever I can, but that's usually all that's realistic. Sadly it has been a while since I've done one of those...

  42. Greg

    The German in you shows nicely here.

    Blunt, take it or leave it advice as it should be.

    Surprised you don't prefer the day flight from East Coast to London. Enjoy the inflight service, and right to bed.

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ Greg -- Hah, thanks! And good point about the daytime flights, I do love those. However, there are very few situations where they're available -- as you mention, primarily to London, and only from Northeast gateways (and during coronavirus we've seen many of those frequencies suspended).

  43. Never In Doubt

    Being outside, getting exercise, and letting the sun do its part to reset your circadian rhythms is solid advice for someone who’ll be in a time zone for awhile.

    But the rest of this is written by someone who hasn’t had to be in business meetings in the local business day.

    Ben’s lucky that his schedule is 100% his to set, no clients, or kids, to worry about. Not everyone has that freedom!

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ Never In Doubt -- Fair points, and I updated the post to reflect that this advice was intended primarily for leisure travelers, which is an important distinction. That being said, I'm not sure advice is actually that different for business travelers -- most business travelers I know still have commitments at their home timezone when traveling, whether it's the expectation to answer emails, or work calls. For that matter, most business travelers are on...

      @ Never In Doubt -- Fair points, and I updated the post to reflect that this advice was intended primarily for leisure travelers, which is an important distinction. That being said, I'm not sure advice is actually that different for business travelers -- most business travelers I know still have commitments at their home timezone when traveling, whether it's the expectation to answer emails, or work calls. For that matter, most business travelers are on such quick trips that there's not really time to adjust, and it's more about getting some rest before meetings, and then leaving again.

      Most business travelers I know would consider it quite a luxury to be able to fully adjust to the local timezone at a destination.

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Eskimo

@Lucky It's easy to do exactly what you said in your 20s. A bit harder but still doable in your 30s. By the time you're in your 40s you will try to do all those methods and would fail in all of them. In your 50s, jetlag is a thing and you need days to recover. In your 60s, you probably nap enough with or without jetlag.

Truptravels

For me it comes down to 2 things, water and sleep/naps. I need to stay hydrated and drink water every chance i can. I am probably drinking alcohol and coffee as well, which means i need even more water. For sleep its mental and i tell myself i may not get a full nights sleep of 7 hours. If i get 5 hours of sleep, and a 2 hour nap, then i will be good. (same for plane, i dont expect to get 10 hours of sleep on a long haul trip, but if i get 3 2-hour naps in, i will be happy.)

Never In Doubt

Being outside, getting exercise, and letting the sun do its part to reset your circadian rhythms is solid advice for someone who’ll be in a time zone for awhile. But the rest of this is written by someone who hasn’t had to be in business meetings in the local business day. Ben’s lucky that his schedule is 100% his to set, no clients, or kids, to worry about. Not everyone has that freedom!

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