Published: January 5, 2011 at 12:14 PMSince, as you say, most jetlag is due to exhaustion, my approach is to sleep as much as possible regardless of local time. Most Americans go abroad for too short a time to adapt to local time anyway. I just can't trick myself to sleep when my brain doesn't want to sleep.
This leads to touring sites at odd times, but it's less stressful than worrying about jetlag all the time. Some travelers obsess over it, even when they have no business or meetings to attend to! Relax.
When flying to LHR or AMS, there are some wonderful "pod hotels" inside the terminal where you can pay per hour and sleep or shower after an uncomfortable flight. Four hours at "Yotel" in Heathrow's terminal 4 costs 26 pounds and feels like you've given yourself an upgrade.
Published: January 5, 2011 at 1:24 PMKey tips to get sleep on a plane -- carry opaque, comfortable eye shades and soft but effective ear plugs. I buy the 32-db rated yellow and pink soft foam plugs sold under the Stanley brand name (in your hardware store's safety gear section) and they work great at blocking out unwanted noise. You'll find that even if you don't get as much sleep as you'd like, the earplugs will block the majority of the low-frequency rumbling from the engines, and the high-pitched slipstream noise that ALWAYS penetrates the soundproofing into the cabin. Freedom from those noises makes a BIG difference in your long-flight fatigue factor!
I can also recommend Bose's QC15 noise-cancelling headphones, but trust me -- the earplugs are a lot less expensive!
Published: January 5, 2011 at 1:36 PMWorks beautifully if you're a single traveller. I'm taking 3 under 5's from London to Florida next year. Any advice for that?
Published: January 5, 2011 at 2:41 PMWell for my early-elementary-aged kids I'd suggest telling them that it's time for school when I wanted them to sleep and telling them it was time to go to bed when I wanted them awake. :^)
Seriously, with kids, the best thing you can do is set an example and hope they sometime follow your lead. Beyond that, try to keep them as comfortable as best you can.
It helps if they've taken local flights before, so that they don't feel the excitement of a first-time airplane flight - keeping them up for the whole thing. If that's not the case, just accept that they're going to be excited and their time clocks are going to be whacked out. (Actually, flying from London to Orlando during the daytime, excitement keeping you awake can be a good thing. It's the flight back that can be a bear.)
Exude as much calmness as you can. Try to apply your normal day/night routine to the destination time zone as soon as you get to the airport and during the flight. Change into jammies at the destination's bedtime and into day clothes at the destination's morning. But be ready with snacks and juice when tummies grumble and the kids get cranky.
If they see you calm and happy, you've got a chance that they'll be calm and happy as well. If they see you angry and stressed, then you've got no shot at an enjoyable flight.
Published: January 5, 2011 at 7:19 PMWhen you get where you're going, take off your shoes and socks and walk around on the carpet and make fists with your toes. Better than a hot shower and a cup of coffee. Trust me, I've doing it for 8 years.
What a movie geek I am.
Published: January 6, 2011 at 4:14 AMThere is a region of your brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) which has a very accurate clock. That clock then indirectly controls a similar molecular clock in EVERY cell in your body. Jet lag represents the disparity between your experienced time your internal time - during the day when your body would normally be churning out natural steroids and adrenaline, it thinks it's night. This has a whole host of physiological complications but above all - it makes you feel rubbish. You can only adjust your internal clock (SCN) to a new time zone by, at most 2 to 3 hours a day. It is principally light (it sits juts above your optic nerve) that makes it change, the brighter the better. Exercise when you would be asleep in the new time zone will also help. It is always easier to deal with jet lag when travelling west - you are effectively waking up later and hence your body is already 'turning itself on' when you need to get up. Whe you travel east, your body is turning itself off when you nee d to get up.
Published: January 6, 2011 at 4:26 AMIn late May last year I traveled from London, UK to Orlando MCO for the opening of the WWoHP. I stayed at Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando. Anyway, my flight out was 11.25am UK time. I arrived at around 3.30pm Florida time.
By 5pm I had arrived at Universal Orlando, and at 6pm I was on The Hulk.
To this day, I still cannot believe how quick and easy it was to A) get through customs and bag claim at MCO; B) check in to the Royal Pacific and find my room etc.; and C) redeem my special unlimited pass tickets at the IOA front desk.
Some of you might it horrendous that I went straight to IOA after a 8hr flight from the UK, but it was this pleasant experience that has made me come back again in June 2011. Let's hope it goes just as smoothly this time!
P.S. on night 1 I stayed until closing time, 10pm. The following morning I had to be up early to make use of my voucher for a free breakfast at The Three Broomsticks at WWoHP, so I entered IOA at 7am. I didn't leave until closing time again, 10PM.
On day 3, I was very ill with sunstroke, exhaustion, and blisters on my feet, so I came home from IOA after a few hours and spent the rest of the day in bed. :(
Published: January 6, 2011 at 6:41 AMI hail from bonny Scotland and when travelling to Orlando have to get to the airport at 4am for my connecting flight to London. This makes for a VERY long day as I've usually been up for at least 24 hours by the time I hit the hay in Orlando. I always try to keep awake that day so that by the time I reach Orlando I am wiped out and sleep like a baby. Then its off to Seaworld on day one as a gentle start since there are generally no queues there.
On the way home, I do exactly the same. I know I won't sleep on an overnight flight but I try hard. I usually reach home at about 10am following 17 hours of travel. I NEVER go to sleep. Instead, I power on until around 8pm when I call it a day and crash out. I'm usually fine the next day. In fact, I started a new job the day after a trip on one occasion. Its mind over matter in my view.
Published: January 6, 2011 at 7:51 PMMy nightmare - I'm in Florida right now and am flying back to the UK Saturday so I won't get home until lunchtime Sunday. I'm terrible with jet lag and I have the first of two weeks of accountancy exams Tuesday. I'm terrified, but I have no choice but to get over it!