Is Jet Lag Just a State of Mind?

September 14th, 2011

It’s been said that the best part of travel is the anticipation. Until recently, I disagreed. I’ve been everywhere from Jordan to Argentina, ridden camels, flown in prop planes and helicopters, and paddled furiously toward a distant shore in BVI.

Then in December I went to the Languedoc region of France on a travel study course through my grad program. I was apprehensive about traveling with a group, but anticipated much strolling and croissant nibbling, just like in those romantic B&W photographs I had attached to my bathroom mirror in college. Reality: early breakfasts in the banquet area of chain hotels and a shared room, ensuring that I had no time alone. Several of my classmates were inexperienced travelers and one treated us like her own personal sherpas. Even being asked out by a cute, Jane Austen-quoting 25-year-old didn’t help. Highlights included a jolting bus ride with a benevolent dictator of a tour guide and being herded through the Pope’s Palace in Avignon during caffeine withdrawal. I considered that trip an aberration. Now, I’m sipping a latte at a cafe in a small French village on what should be a romantic trip with my boyfriend. Yet, it’s taken a week in Paris and several days in the countryside for me to feel anywhere near normal.

Is it jet lag? And will its effects worsen with each passing year? Do I need to change something about the way I travel? Or am I being sabotaged by years of been-there-done-thats and my own high expectations? In less than a month, I’ll be headed to Barcelona for a week and won’t have the luxury of time to get over jet lag. I’m excited about that trip… and I want the reality to meet my anticipations.

Help! I’ve tried everything from mantras to Melatonin, to little avail. Has your enthusiasm for and/or enjoyment of travel changed over time? How do you deal with jet lag? Have you had to change things about the way you travel? If you have any advice, I’d love to hear it.



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Our Friends Say
  1. No alcohol on flight. No sleeping pills or any sedatives (if you can do that). Lots of water before, during after flight (get an aisle seat). Lots of fresh fruit and veggies (if you can get them – bring apples) before, during after flight. Get and wear special ‘in-flight’ earplugs to reduce ‘noise pollution’ during flight. Get up every hour during flight (you’ll have to anyway to pee with all that water!). Pre-order the vegetarian or better yet Vegan meal for the flight (I am an omnivore, but those lighter meals on flights help keep intense jetlag at bay). Have a great trip!


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