Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My preferred route and jet lag rhythm

When I travel to the "old country", I always fly through Chicago. Why? Not because I like O'Hare (which is just huge, boring and noisy and humid no matter what time of the year you travel through).

But at Chicago O'Hare, terminal 5, gate 15 you can catch the 4.20 pm bus 946, oups sorry, I mean flight SK946 to Stockholm, arriving at approx. 7.30 am in the morning at Arlanda Airport and then just have a take a taxi to my final destination (or be lucky to have someone pick me up, which usually only happens when I bring the kids). Hepp!

No waiting, all groggy after an 11-something hours flight, in an European airport, from which you after a couple of hours, have yet another 2-something hours flight, arriving mid-day or afternoon, in Stockholm, with yet an even worse jet lag.

After traveling between Stockholm and California extensively for a couple of years, this is my best advice how to shorten the jet lag when going eastward:

  • Arrive straight in Stockholm from the US (even though it means SAS) in the early morning (meaning midnight PST time)
  • Don't bother trying to fall asleep on the plane, you probably wont' since it's afternoon PST time
  • Turn on the light over your seat right when you get on the plane (then no one will know how dark it can get in the cabin and won't hate you for turning it on later...) and read a book or watch the movies (or if you travel with kids, be just plain busy every second)
  • Go straight "home" after exiting customs (without getting caught for smuggling... hm... chocolate chip cookies?).
  • Go to bed (catching up with family and friend can WAIT, don't waste time with unpacking your bags!) in your pajamas and sleep for a couple of hours until approximately 3-4 pm (which is like early morning PST-time). You're probably not going to be hungry, after all it's in the middle of the night "your time". Make sure your family/friends know you're behavior before hand (so they don't think you're the most boring person in the world, going straight to bed).
  • Have some one wake you up (do not rely on an alarm clock - you will be dead and not hear it and sleep to long). And by waking up I mean literally, they might have to kick you out of bed if that's what it takes.
  • Get up, take a shower, get dressed as if you've slept a short night after a long day with a short day ahead of you
  • Eat, but no meat only light food (Hönökaka with grevéost would be a great choice!), stay up pass 11 pm, preferably midnight, then go to sleep (even if you're really not that tired) and hope you'll sleep as long as possible through then night, if you wake up, stay in bed, read a book, you might be able to go back to sleep
  • Eat breakfast as normal in the morning after (maybe Skogaholmslimpa with leverpastej?)
  • Continue with the day but keep away from the steaks and other "heavy" food (brain might know you're in Sweden, tummy might not).
  • Hepp, you're out of jet lag in a day - and can enjoy your stay!
  • (sorry - usually doesn't work for toddlers which can kind of mess up your jet lag recovery too, have a nice friend/parent stand by at 4 am when toddler wants to watch Pippi).
This is my "rhythm", what works for me, and believe me - I did it all - went straight from the airport to work, or gone home and slept way too long, tried stressful hours to fall asleep on the plane, gotten so sick I couldn't hear or speak, been so tired I never thought I could think another thought, and had jet lag days - been there, done that.

Try it - it might work for you and you've got nothing to loose (but probably having to fly SAS...).

5 comments:

miranda said...

All this plane talk is really helping so thanks for that. I only have one and a half weeks to go and getting quite nervy!
I must repeat the mantra...Jacal says its like a bus, Jacal says its like a bus etc etc!!! Not only that i don't have to change anywhere. Its just a straight 11 hours to London.

Anonymous said...

My Swedish family like to fly with only non-American airlines (SAS, KML) believing their security hassle you less. Have you any idea if that is true?

Berit

Ing said...

Jacal, I love your airport stories! And thanks for the advice on jetlag, I will pass it on to visitors from Sweden. Now I'm eagerly awating part two, the one titled "This is how you do it with kids". I'll be willing to pay for it.

Anne-Marie said...

En del av dina jetlag-tips är sådana jag också använder mig av. Det jag har hört emellertid är att det är bättre att hålla sig uppe tills man lägger sig på kvällen. Vet inte om det stämmer. När jag var i Sverige förra våren/sommaren kom jag in från Chicago med "946-bussen" och det var en lång dag innan jag gick och lade mig. Kunde knappt hålla ögonen öppna. Något jag märkt är att ju fler gånger jag åkt mellan USA och Sverige desto lättare blir det att klara av jetlagen. Kroppen tycks minnas och vänja sig.

JaCal said...

Miranda - it is like taking the bus! And imagine how easy it would be to take over if no one else could "drive"?! ;-)

Berit - no I don't know, and I think that if you're flying to the US, there is security hazzle, no matter the airline. Maybe slightly worse to fly out of Heathrow right now (would avoid that actually).

Ing - thanks! ;-) If you're lucky not having to continue after Stockholm and you arrive in the early morning hours (ie late night CA time) it actually works (at least for me). I promise I'll do a "do it with kids" after my trip i three weeks... already stressing out...

Anne-Marie - that's what I heard to - but that only works for west bound jet lag (for me at least). If you keep up when you do the east bound - you end up staying up for almost two days - and that always makes me just sick... But people who can deal with severe lack of sleep might get it to work. And yes, it sure gets easier every time, I think you also know how to deal with your body after a couple of times. You sort of know what to expect.