Jet Lag, How to Avoid & Conquer, we'll tell you the tricks -

Is the term “jet lag” real? You bet it is! Of course, it depends on which way you are traveling. It’s easier for Europeans to travel to the USA than the other way around. Reason being? The 6-9 hour time difference makes a big difference in your body’s reaction.

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What Exactly Is Jet Lag?


If you’re not sure exactly what jet lag is or why you could use a few tips to help you overcome it, here’s a good example that will put it all in perspective. You’re traveling from New York in the States to Italy and arrive at 8:00 am local time. New York is currently six hours behind Italy so your body is telling you it’s 2:00 in the morning and why aren’t you sleeping?

But you’ve just arrived in beautiful Italy and the day is just beginning. You leave the airport with your luggage in tow and – bam – you are immediately digging out your sunglasses from your carry-on. The sun is out and the air is crisp… okay, a bit dramatic but I think you get the point. It will take a little time to adjust your body’s rhythm. Everyone adjusts to this disorder differently and if you are one of the lucky ones? Kudos to you!

The Science of Jet Lag

During each 24-hour cycle, your body’s temperature, blood pressure, and glucose levels fluctuate. These important features are all run by your internal clock. This “clock” is directly linked to the light you take in through your eyes.

Avoid and Conquer Jet Lag - good advice -

When you are at home, the sunlight you are exposed to day to day is very close to the same amount. This is how our “circadian rhythms,” or our internal clocks stay balanced. When traveling a long distance, the change to our internal clocks is significant. The change in when your body is used to being in light versus dark disrupts your clock and creates havoc. It is said the number of days you will be jet lagged will equal the number of time zones you cross. 

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Tips Before Traveling

It’s not foolproof and again, people adjust and react differently to jet lag but here are a few helpful hints that just might make your next trip to Europe a bit easier on you and your family.

  • First and foremost, drink lots of water on the plane and avoid alcohol and caffeine. I read a dreadful article written by a flight attendant about how the coffee makers are not frequently cleaned so this one has become an easy one for me to decline.
  • For long journeys, try and book flights that allow you to sleep or at least close your eyes and relax during your normal “sleeping time.” You want to achieve as close to the same downtime pattern your body already knows and loves. Flights that have numerous stopovers make resting difficult because you are not able to maximize your sleeping or resting time. It might cost a bit more to do a non-stop flight or one with just one stopover, but the end result might be worth it.
  • I can recall when my parents would take a flight or go on a cruise. They would be all dressed up, my father even in a suit and tie. Well, those days are long gone. Put away your white gloves (assuming you might have a pair) and maximize your comfort for plane travel. Not, I’m not suggesting pajamas but “comfort” is the operative word here. These days I shake my head at what I see some young people wear. I guess my age is showing but wearing slippers through the airport before boarding makes me shake my head.
  • I’m not fond of using airplane blankets except in a pinch but I always carry a fleece hoodie jacket as nine times out of ten the plane is colder than a meat locker. If you are sensitive to light, bring an eye mask. Other good items to travel with are earplugs and a travel-size pillow.
  • Only once have we enjoyed the benefit of flying business class and it was amazing. It was a gift from our youngest daughter’s significant other using his points. I was able to sleep for the very first time on a flight where it didn’t benefit Gary in the least. Perhaps it was just that particular flight for Gary. Normally, he is able to sleep on flights where it rarely occurs for me. If you can afford it, it is an amazing and relaxing way to travel.
  • I have heard of people using an app called Timeshifter. Developed by scientists and used by astronauts, it might be worth looking into if you are planning a really long trip. It isn’t free, but there is a trial period you might want to check out. Just another possibility.
  • I know people have used sleep aids and it might work for you but I had a horrible experience when I tried one traveling to Italy during one of our first trips. Our seats were next to the bathrooms and with all the activity of passengers going in and out – the light going on and off – I couldn’t sleep. I don’t even remember getting off the plane, but I do remember Gary needing to use the restroom and sat me down demanding that I not move from my seated position. I also don’t recall leaving the airport. Scary – very scary. If you use this method, you must allow enough time for it to work or you’ll end up with issues such as mine.
  • If sleep doesn’t occur, a good rest is another good option. When awake on long flights, get up and stretch and walk up and down the aisles. This will prevent muscle stiffness and reduce the risk of blood clots.

Jet Lag Tips Upon Arrival

  • The best tip to combat jet lag upon arrival at your destination is to stay outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air. Plan to do something outside and not indoors. You need to keep your body moving and push yourself just a bit. Try and stay active and awake until the evening. Even if you go to bed early that first night, that would be alright. Fight the urge to check into your hotel or BnB and get under the covers.
  • Another trip is to not over-schedule your first few days with activities. You need to allow yourself this and make sure there is some “downtime” on the itinerary.

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Fun and multi-purpose composition-lined notebooks are available on

I’ve now designed two 14-day travel planner paperbacks that coordinate with two of these notebooks – available in two sizes.

Designed using the same information we collect when traveling. All are available on – search “Ilene Modica” or use this link

Do children get jetlagged?

The answer is “yes.” Children suffer from jet lag but adjust more easily. Make sure you keep them hydrated and they should follow your lead.

In Conclusion

Most everyone suffers from jet lag to a degree. Follow these few tips and perhaps you can overcome some of the nightmare stories you hear people suffer on their long-awaited vacation trips.

Ilene from Our Italian Journey,
Avoid and Conquer Jet Lag - good advice -


  1. Great tips! I am thrilled that you included the Timeshifter app—I have used this for the past 2-3 years when traveling to Europe and have found it helpful. You tell it whether you are a morning person or night owl, use caffeine or avoid it, use melatonin or avoid it, and you input your flight times and destinations. Then based on all that, the app tells you when to avoid light/wear sunglasses, when to seek out light (and NOT wear sunglasses), when to sleep, and when to use caffeine and/or melatonin if you want.
    Thanks for the informative post!

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