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London with jet lag?

Hello! We are planning on London July 4-8. I just found out our flight changed, so now we are arriving at 7:30 AM! One the one hand, it's good, because we have more time in London; on the other hand, that first day will be hard. So, here are two ideas I have to survive the first day. We are staying fairly close to the British Museum and British Library. It's a 10-15 minute walk to Russell Station, Euston, and St Pancras.)

  1. Arrive at hotel and see if they will hold our luggage for us. Then maybe just walk around the area, check out the British library, have lunch, then go to Euston station to take a train up to the Harry Potter studio and do a tour mid-afternoon (maybe 2 or 3; if we do this, I'll get tickets ahead of time). Be there for about 3 hours, then come back, eat dinner and hang out in our hotel room, go to bed early... but not too early :)

  2. Arrive to hotel and see if they will hold our luggage; take the train to get the London Pass (we already bought it, but we need to get the cards). Take the Westminster walking tour in Rick Steve's 2018 London book. Maybe just spend the rest of the day hanging around before going back to the hotel for an early night.

Any advice would be appreciated- I am just really nervous about the jet lag. Our plane leaves at 2:00 pm, so we are really not going to want to sleep on the plane (our original flight was leaving at 8 and arriving at 1... much better schedule).

Posted by
31035 posts

number 2 on an overseas arrival (from where?) makes much more sense to me.

I'd be surprised if your hotel didn't keep your bag. Astonished actually.

By the way - just to stop guffaws when you arrive - there are no internal organs in St Pancras. Note the absence of the final "e".

By the way number two - what train do you need to catch to get your pass?

Posted by
891 posts

Option 1 would be too much for me on my first day!

I'd go with Option 2 and get as much fresh air and sunshine as possible. Take the walking tour, walk some more, go back to your hotel when your room is supposed to be ready (usually 2:00 or 3:00), take a short nap, have a shower, then go back out and explore some more.

Save Harry Potter for another day when you're not likely to be as tired and will be better able to appreciate it.

Have a great time!

Posted by
114 posts

Nigel- haha, thanks for catching that extra "e." That was a little embarrassing! haha

We're flying out of Seattle- it's a 9 hour direct flight on Virgin airlines (booked via Delta)

I think it will be easy to pick up the London Pass- when I looked it up, I think we can catch the tube from Russell square to Leicester station. I had planned on doing it the following day, but if we take care of it that first day and move everything else up, that would give us more of a free day towards the end of the stay.

Posted by
12607 posts

I would also go with option 2 or a variation on that.

For myself, I know I crump right after lunch on a jet lag day. I'm in awe of those that can stay awake the whole day as I wind up taking a nap for 1.5 hours or so (I set an alarm) when I can get into my room. Then I shower and head outside again. I travel solo but even when I've met up with friends I just cannot stay awake.

I also do not like to be as far from the hotel as Option 1 would have you. I like to be within striking distance so I can return when/if I feel I need to. Doing the Westminster Walk or just walking in the area of your hotel would be good. The British Library is an idea as the display area is not huge BUT it is very dark in there with the light kept low to protect the fragile manuscripts and I'm afraid that would make me want to curl up under one of the displays and take a nap! Depending on exactly where your hotel is, you could also consider walking to, then thru Covent Garden. It's a lively area with shops and food so there is a lot of stimulation.

As context, I fly from N. Idaho, so leave either at 5AM or Noon-ish to get to Seattle or SLC hubs for the international flight so I understand how long you'll be on a plane. If you normally drink caffeine in the AM, I would not drink any on your departure AM. That might help you catch a few more hours of sleep on the plane...altho you may be so excited that you can't sleep anyway, lol!

Posted by
15088 posts

I'd vote for #2 as well. #1 would be a REALLY busy day if you're dealing with jet lag. Also, your trip isn't until July and flight times have been known to change over the course of several months. If you'd already purchased Potter tickets - which I see are mandatory in advance, and are date specific - and your arrival time was significantly changed or delayed, you might have to eat the cost if you couldn't make it. Best to opt for a plan that can be easily altered and doesn't risk the price of expensive tickets depending on how things actually go?

Posted by
5191 posts

No. 2 would be my vote.

Another possibility is to join one of the morning London Walks The advantage of this is that you can pretty much follow the guide around without spending a lot of time navigating. Have a leisurely lunch after your walk.

Posted by
1353 posts

I agree with the others - option 2 is best! Stay outside in the sunshine (hopefully) as much as possible. No way would I go to the British Library on arrival day! I'm with Pam - I would want to curl up under a display:)

Posted by
114 posts

Thanks so much for your advice!!! I really appreciate it. We've never been to Europe, and I'm not a city person anyway (I love to visit them, but after a few days I need a break), so I just have no idea what to expect. I think I'll go with Option 2. Harry Potter can wait a few days :) (by the way, I am a HUGE HP fan, and the rest of my family likes the books, but doesn't love them... my son (15 years old)was very "meh" about it, but my daughter (19) seemed excited.

Pam-- I live ridiculously close to you (Moscow)!!! We had planned on driving over to Seattle the same day, but now that the plane leaves at 2pm, I think we will stay the night in Seattle. Bummer- that's just one more hotel to get :( Oh well.

Posted by
996 posts

I'd also go with some version of option two.

And while I'm sure you've already thought of this, but just in case you're overly jet lagged anyway at this point, make sure that your luggage is locked when you leave it with the hotel. And just to play it safe, have a day bag with any necessary medications, charging cords, etc.

Have a great trip!!

Posted by
12607 posts

Athorste!! Whaaaat!! We have a Rick Steves meet up in Moscow tomorrow! 1030 at OneWorld. Back room. Please say you'll come!

No way would I want to do that drive to get to SEA at 11A for the international flight. With my luck something would happen over Snoqualmie and I'd be toast.

Darcy and Doug who come to the meet-up usually fly out of Seattle and fly over from LEW ahead. I generally try to connect thru SLC but also fly out of LEW - free parking there (so far) instead of hte charge at the Moscow-Pullman airport.

Posted by
1147 posts

Check out London Walks for an afternoon walk. These have fit into my first day quite a few times.

Posted by
114 posts

Pam- I'm not sure if I will be able to make it, but I'll keep it in mind. When I booked the flight, the prices were quite a bit cheaper flying out of Seattle. But, now with the extra hotel, I'm not so sure! Oh well- you live and learn, right? Everything is a shot in the dark for me, since this is our first major trip (we've been overseas, but never on our own and never the entire family).

Posted by
6087 posts

Glad you're going with option 2. But you'll want to be taking the Tube, not the train, to get the pass at Leicester Square, not Leicester (a city in a different part of England). I'm sure the hotel will take your luggage. London Walks is a good idea. So is the RS Westminster walk, but don't be lured into the Abbey or the Churchill Museum on your jet lag day -- both are dark and detailed, and you want daylight and fresh air. How about a boat ride from Westminster Bridge down the river to the Tower? And nice walk back, at least part way, along the south bank, and maybe a trip up the London Eye if it isn't too crowded?

I fly from Seattle too and can't sleep on planes. With baggage claim and immigration and the time it takes to get into the city, you might not reach your hotel much before noon, so you just have the afternoon to get through. Coffee helps in the early stages, but not later in the day.

Posted by
114 posts

Dick- I thought I said the tube. And, I have a bad habit of shortening names of places-- I'm learning that you can't do that in London :) Thanks for the tips.

Posted by
2090 posts

Hi Athorste!
Darcy here from Lewiston, also not too far away!
One thing I do that helps a little bit to get me to the right time zone is set my watch to the new time as soon as I get on the plane. As others have said, once we arrive at the hotel if I stay in the light and keep moving, I'm usually ok until shortly after dinner so get to sleep by about 9:00 pm. I'm fine by morning. It's coming home that's difficult for me! (I just do not want to come home!)

Posted by
3010 posts

I would suggest that you don't try to see anything that you REALLY want to see on the day of arrival. You will be too tired. I ended up walking around Kensington Park and Palace. Had a great light meal and a glass of wine or two in the Orangerie at Kensington Palace. I thought the selection of Christmas ornaments at the Kensington Palace gift shop was better than anywhere else in London. Harrods just had Sylvestri ornaments you could get anywhere.

It never hurts to ask the hotel if they will let you check in early.

Posted by
3973 posts

I'm not a HP fan but the studio really is something to see so your son might enjoy it more than he thinks. If you're interested in tea, that could be a relaxing thing to do on Day 1. I've never had tea there, but Tea and Tattle is often recommended and is in your area.

Posted by
64 posts

Ooof, That first day...........
Here's what works for me.

We always land about 8 a.m. coming from the U.S.A.
With the stop in Atlanta, it's about a 10 hour journey.
I CANNOT sleep on a plane no matter how hard I try.
When we land, we go to the rental car place, get the car, load the luggage, and head to the Hotel.
It's usually 10:30 by this time, maybe 11 a.m.
Some hotels let you get in early if you call them when you land, and tell them you arrived early.
Once at the hotel, nap time. I can get an hour or 2 in and kind of pop back to life for the rest of the day.
We spend the rest of the day just getting around locally, get some food, and snooze off around 8 or 9 that night.
By 6 a.m. the next day, I'm ready to roll and usually good for the rest of the trip. (Maybe a few tired moments, but nothing I can't handle)

Posted by
1010 posts

All you have to do to sleep on a plane is to take an Advil PM or ask your doctor for a sleeping pill.

Posted by
14019 posts

I wish my flight landed at 0730 hrs, instead I won't arrive at Gatwick until 0950 hrs...very convenient staying in a B&B near St Pancras.

Posted by
242 posts

I agree with the concept of doing your least favorite, yet scheduled touring the day you arrive. Then, take the double decker bus tour and sit on the top if it is a nice day. Push yourself but do have an early dinner and then get to sleep rather early.

Posted by
24825 posts

I would not prepay for any activity on arrival day because I know how brain-dead I am after a sleepless overnight flight. A bus tour would be a bad idea for me, because I'd be asleep within 5 minutes. Don't ask me why I have trouble staying awake on a bus when there's something interesting to see out the window, yet cannot sleep on a plane. That's just the way it is.

Posted by
3888 posts

Option 2 keeps you outside. That's how you conquer jet lag. Have a wonderful time.

Posted by
518 posts

Try to start out as rested as you can. I would do my best to sleep some on the plane. If you are going to try some sort of sleeping aid or something, be sure to try it ahead of time to see how it affects you. Getting rest on the plane is important. Drink plenty of water and juice. Stay hydrated. Avoid alcohol and caffeine on the plane. That will help.
If you arrive at 7:30, it will take and hour or more to clear customs, etc. Then it will take another hour get into London. So you will be arriving at your hotel at 10 or so.
I would contact my hotel a few days ahead of time, tell them your situation, and see if they could arrange an early check-in for you, even if you had to pay some extra. Go drop off your luggage. Go to a nearby restaurant and have breakfast or early lunch and relax a while. Try to plan something specific to go and do — not just wander around killing time. Just killing time is exhausting. Make it something that you don’t have to pay for but that would interest you. Don’t take a bus tour or anything. You’ll just go to sleep on the bus. As soon as your hotel room is ready, go take a shower. That first shower feels like a new life. Eat an early dinner. Do your best to stay up until at least 7 pm. Get about 12 hours sleep, and you’ll be good to go.
I remember getting to Dublin at 7:30 am. We went to the hotel where they held our luggage, but they couldn’t get our room for us until noon — which was better than 3. We walked and walked around trying to stay awake. Our son, who was about 16 at the time, went to sleep in a chair in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. When we got to our room at noon, he fell back on the bed and slept for 2 hours with his cap and shoes still on. :) That first day when you arrive early in a city is just tough. You do have the excitement of being there on your side.
Have a great trip.

Posted by
539 posts

A day or two before an overnight flight i start to adjust my sleeping to more align with new timezone.

If you thik that 2 pm is 10pm London time then you can realize that 2pm is actually prime sleeping time, get a few hours less sleep before you leave and try to put yourself into the new time zone. All this makes it easier to sleep on the plane and be ready to be awake and alert when you arrive,

That said always a good idea to take it easy the first day

Posted by
206 posts

or maybe consider:

Here's my fav way to spend the first jet-lagged day in London, depending, of course, on the weather. Take the tube to the Tower of London, don't go in, just look at it and then walk across the bridge to Borough Market (open Mon - Sat noting that the Mon/Tuesday markets are lunch only and smaller). Get coffee at Monmouth Coffee, wander around for a while (5 minute - an hour, your call). Be outside. Look at Southwark Cathedral located right next to the market. The head for the Anchor Pub Bankside (stopping to look at the Golden Hinde en route) which is right on the walk along the Thames River that leads you all the way down to Westminster Bridge. The walk will take you past the Globe Theater, Tate Modern ( across the river you will see St Paul's and Somerset House). You will eventually get to the Eye with a fabulous view of Big Ben and Parliament.
This walk keeps you outside and moving and getting a great intro to London. And while it is a longish walk , you can stop and sit and watch the river or stop in places, and there are several points at which you can cross the river and get on the Tube. Also you can certainly Google walk it and see how it looks to you.

Posted by
88 posts

2 is a better option.

Here is what I do. I cannot sleep on a plane no matter what I do and if I take a nap I'm done for. Therefore, I'm pretty much deliriously tired from afternoon until I get to bed around 8:00pm or 9:00pm that first night.

7:30 am seems early but it isn't as early as you think depending on how you are getting from the airport to your hotel. You will likely not arrive at your hotel until mid to late morning.

Drop off your luggage at the hotel. Most will hold your luggage. Find a nice place to have a leisurely lunch. If you still can't check in after lunch take the tube to Hyde Park or walk to another park in the area (Regents?) and just chill and walk around outside of touristy places and take photos of the outside. Return to your hotel at some point before dinner and check in. Have a leisurely dinner, return to your hotel and go to bed, or if you aren't dead tired join a London Walk and then go to bed.

Posted by
255 posts

I take an Ambien sleeping pill when we take off and after 8 hours I'm wide awake and have no jet lag when we land. I only take them when flying but I do try one about a week before we leave to make sure it's still effective. Your doctor can give you some free samples.

Posted by
44 posts

We had a similar arrival time last fall and arrived at our hotel, also near Russell Square, around 10:30, having taken the 55 min tube ride from Heathrow. Based on recommendations I saw on this Forum, I had gotten the free tickets to Sky Garden for that day. It was beautiful, didn’t require any energy, and the views were great so I didn’t feel the need to do the London Eye which is pricey. Be sure to get the online reservations early the Monday before the week of your trip, though, as they “sell out” quickly.

Another option which we considered was taking one of the London Walks Tours, inexpensive at £10, and no reservations needed. As it turned out, though, we ran out of steam so did that another day. I’d highly recommend taking at least one of the London Walks during your stay. We did Hampstead Heath and it was great.