Book A Flight To Europe At This Time And Jet Lag Won't Be Your Problem

Traveling to a whole other part of the world is an exciting prospect — until the dreaded jet lag sets in. This disorder, also known as time zone change syndrome, can really do a number on one's vacation. Jet lag happens when you jump across multiple time zones, making it hard for your body to understand what the actual time is. The trickiest part is timing your arrival so you aren't making the time change even harder on yourself. There are a few ways to help combat jet lag, most notably flying to Europe at a particular time of day for an easier adjustment. 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends making a few adjustments to your sleep schedule before you depart, like going to bed earlier or later than normal, depending on your upcoming flight. More importantly, the CDC emphasizes the importance of maintaining a typical routine after arrival. "If you are traveling to a time zone that is more than three hours different than your normal time zone, you should follow the sleep and waking routines of your destination when you arrive," they suggest. "It might help to stay in well-lit areas at your destination during the day." 

You can't totally beat jet lag. Planning your trip to accommodate the adjustment is just part of major international travel and one way to avoid rookie mistakes as a first-time flier. Even so, you can start by choosing a flight time that will make that accommodation easier on your body. 


Avoid the red-eye

To some, it might seem logical to hop aboard a red-eye flight across the ocean and arrive in Europe in the morning. You get a whole day to adventure! However, that also means a whole day battling the inevitable jet lag waiting at the arrival gate. Even if you can zonk out on a flight, you may not get a full night's sleep, making it even harder to avoid crashing when you arrive at your destination. After all, sleeping on a plane is hard. That's why travelers suggest departing home in the morning to arrive in Europe in the afternoon or evening.  


That said, Simple Flying's research discovered that these morning departures are harder to come by since most transatlantic flights are red-eyes. When adjusting to a new time zone, staying awake for just a few hours can be easier than an entire day. If you arrive in Europe in the afternoon or evening, you can still get in a spot of sightseeing before getting some much-needed sleep. While it is often cheaper to fly a less convenient red-eye, your jet lag may not be as prolonged if you depart in the morning instead. 

Fight jet lag by pretending you're leaving two days early

Jet lag may be an inescapable European vacation tag-a-long, but it doesn't have to be excruciating. Writing on his website, travel expert Rick Steves gave readers a tip he uses before a big time shift: trick yourself. He suggests pretending that you are leaving two days earlier than you are and treating those days as if you are already on vacation. 


"Keep that last 48-hour period sacred (apart from your normal work schedule), even if it means being hectic before your false departure date," Steves wrote. "Then you have two orderly, peaceful days after you've packed so that you are physically ready to fly. Mentally, you'll be comfortable about leaving home and starting an adventure. You'll fly away well rested and 100 percent capable of enjoying the bombardment of your senses that will follow." Leaving home relaxed on your actual departure date can help ease your body (and mind) into a new schedule. You can also try the medication Steves uses to fight jet lag.

You can also use those two faux-cation days to ramp up the slightly different sleeping schedule suggested earlier. By adjusting your sleep schedule ahead of time, that sudden jerk to a new time zone can be a little less jarring. You can then use jet lag to your advantage instead of letting it take advantage of you. That way, you aren't snoozing your way through Stockholm, dozing in Dublin, or barely awake in Brussels.