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jet lag

Any tips for first time flyers to Europe?. Should we/shouldn't we do what? All are appreciated, Thanks. Brian

Posted by
50 posts

Go to the Graffiti Wall here on Rick Steves' Website...there are tons of postings regarding this topic. Have a wonderful first trip!

Posted by
2788 posts

Buy RS's "Europe thru the Back Door" and read it carefully.

Posted by
410 posts

There is a mountain of info on various travel sites. A lot depends on the length of the flight, what time of day (day or night flight), what class you are flying in and whether you can sleep on long haul flights- maybe you don't know the answer to that unless you have been on other long haul flights. I rarely sleep other than fitfully regardless of business or economy class. Assuming a night flight - have a few drinks, take something light (I take a couple of valium), put the eyeshades on and just try to sleep. If you plan to take something, try it before the flight to see you have no ill effects. Don't get stressed if you cannot sleep. Some people swear by setting their watches to the time at destination. Try not to go to sleep until about 9 pm local time the first day no matter how tired you are.

Posted by
769 posts

I too always seem to have a problem sleeping on LA-to-Euro flights - while the rest of my family can usually fall asleep standing up let alone relaxing on a plane. I just try to read or watch the movie and siesta as much as I can. Then when you get to the destination - (hopefully mid day or so) run around all day and stay up as late as the locals and have a beer etc - and then go to bed super tired. Two days of that and you should have no problem! There are many web sites with ideas: board the plane well rested and less stressed, drink plenty of water, (take an airbone fizz tablet), limit alchohol & cafeene. There is a natural chewing-gum product called "no-jet-lag" found at pharmacy, suposed to be made with natural herbs that help reduce stress and relax with no sideffects.... check the web. hope it helps!

Posted by
2030 posts

My first trip to Europe I took non-stop flights from San Francisco to London or Paris. I can't sleep during the entire flight like some people can. After a couple of trips I decided that these flights were too long & grueling for me (admittedly not a spring chicken), particularly when traveling in coach. Since then I have opted to stop on the East Coast someplace, rest and stretch my legs for a couple of hours and then hop across the pond.

Posted by
80 posts

My advice is to try to get sleep on the plane and dont sleep once you land. Plan on staying up until atleast 9pm local time to reset your clock. the excitement of a new place usually keeps you moving for a while anyway. Enjoy!

Posted by
2500 posts

I tried the following tactic on a trip to Italy (from W. Coast US): over the two week period before you leave, get up progressively earlier each morning until you're at least 2 or 3 time zones ahead of where you live. By the time I left for Italy, I was only 6 hours "off" from Italy time. As soon as you get on your flight, adjust your watch (and brain) to your destination time. On the flight, drink plenty of water and try to get to sleep (or doze) as soon as you hit your destination time's bedtime. If you arrive mid-day in Europe, get outside and walk, eat a normal dinner, take a tylenol p.m. and get to bed early-ish. I had no jet lag at all. Quite honestly, the return trip is the killer - took a full 4 days to get back to normal.

Posted by
658 posts

I agree with the posts here. My usual response to all of life's problems is * drink more scotch * however this is one situation where abstinence from booze is a real help. Drink plenty of water, get as much sleep on the flight as you can and plenty of fresh air when you arrive. Reset your watch on take off and go to bed arounf 10 o'clock in the evening local time. Have a good night's sleep and wake up refreshed and ready for anything. Strangely, like many Brits, I only get jet lag when flying East to West. I never get it travelling from the USA to Europe.

Posted by
808 posts

Good tips on this site regarding Jet Lag. However, I would definately avoid alcohol and caffeine or any other stimulants while on board the aircraft. Bring your own water bolltle and the crew would be happy to refill it for you. I don't recommend the use of drugs, either.

Why someone would chemically sedate themselves, consume alcohol, use earplugs and eyeshades, in that combination, is beyond me! Yet this seems to be the preferred method of Jet Lag management for some. Impairing your senses of sight, sound and judgement can be detrimenmtal in an inflight emergency. It can and has happened. And beleive me, evacuating passengers in such a state puts us all at risk.

Posted by
15 posts

I'm an MD and I agree with everyone about no alcohol or caffeine and drinking plenty of water. Ambien and Lunesta are very short acting sedatives and can help you sleep during the flight. They should be taken close to takeoff and might help you land somewhat more refreshed. No matter what you do, there will be a day or two of adjustment.

Posted by
484 posts

Being somewhat of a contrarian I do just the opposite of what most people do. I try to get to my room by approx. 2:00 PM,take a shower and sleep for three-four hours then go out to eat,come back to the room and watch TV till 10:00 or so and then go to sleep. I wake about 6-7 the next morning and feel fine. It works great for me but I also travel by myself so there are fewer distractions and other people to consider.


Posted by
153 posts

First of all, accept the fact that jet lag is real, and you will feel bad the first day. But you'll be okay after that!

What we do varies depending what time it is when we get there. Travelling from Dallas/Ft Worth, we can get to some places by morning and others by late afternoon. If it's morning, sometimes you can't check in yet. If you can, I say take a nap for an hour or two, then get up and stay up until 10. Set an alarm or you'll sleep all day!

If we get in late afternoon, we just tough it out and stay up until at least 9 or 10.

Sleeping on the plane is something I've not mastered. (We're always in coach.)

By the way, coming home is bad, too. Try not to go to work the next day.

Posted by
9363 posts

I've had experience flying both east and west on long haul flights. All of my eastbound flights have left in the evening, so I try to sleep a bit going over because it will be morning when we arrive. Coming back, leaving in the afternoon, I never try to sleep because it will still be late afternoon when I arrive. I try to stay up till my usual time on my return so that I will be really tired and able to fall right to sleep. On my westbound flight to China, I did the opposite. We flew out in the afternoon, and it was dinner time (the next day) when we arrived. I didn't try to sleep at all because I wanted to be plenty tired at bedtime in Beijing. On the return, leaving in the evening (and returning at the same time the "same" evening), I slept as much as I could because by then it was very late in China. I had no problem getting to sleep at my normal bedtime at home. And I've never had a choice -- I've always had to work the next day. :)