Rather than fighting it, here’s how to make the most of jet lag.
When traveling to different time zones, for most of us jet lag is inevitable—no matter all the well-intentioned advice on how to overcome it. Your inner clock is a tricky thing that doesn’t get tricked so easily. Melatonin, lavender oil, and the like never work for me. For a day (or five) I just accept that once my eyes bounce open, I’m wide awake and that’s the end of it. Instead of frantically trying to beat it, I aim to make the most of jet lag. Ultimately, I’m on vacation—and jet lag is part of it.
1. Read—for the lazy jet lag
Those three 400-pagers need to be read in seven days, so I turn on the lamp and kick off my reading marathon in the early morning hours while the roosters are still asleep. And slowly, page after page, the sleep comes back. While I make the most of jet lag, I’m also making the most of my hotel room and bed—presumably later, I won’t be spending so much time here.
2. Take a walk—for the adventurous jet lag
This one might not be for everyone—it depends on the location and the time you wake up—but I love to have a walk while the city is still snoozing. Wander to the nearby beach, have that touristy spot all to yourself, roam the streets and watch the businesses getting their deliveries, or follow the scent of freshly baked bread to the local bakery—chances are good you will get a warm loaf direct from the baker.
3. Go for a run—for the sporty jet lag
Put your sneakers on and make the most of jet lag to hit the road. Sure, I’ll need a motivating monologue at 6:00 a.m., but once I’m running I feel like the world is mine. After the run, I’m ready to conquer every hill or every hammock. Bonus: Done a few times, the early morning run might become a habit back home, too.
4. Check out the farmers’ market—for the explorer jet lag
This is my favorite way to make the most of jet lag. Before traveling somewhere I research if there are any farmers’ markets going on during my stay. Many cities have their farmers’ markets start super-early in the morning, like 4:00 a.m.! And honestly, what can be better than starting your vacation at the farmers’ market?
5. Eat—for the foodie jet lag
Oh, I like this one a lot. While the inner clock thinks it’s 2:00 p.m., there are no guilty feelings while enjoying yummy delicacies in bed. I prefer to stock up on local pastries for when hunger pounces in the middle of the night. And as you know, after eating we always feel a bit tired.
6. Take a bath—for the wellness jet lag
The only time I take a bubble bath on vacation is when my jet lag strikes. It relaxes me after the flight, and makes me happy and energized for a new day. Plus, if you forgot to take care of all your hairy affairs at home, make the most of jet lag and do it now, when you’re not wasting precious holiday time.
Header photo by Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ/Flickr; second photo by author.