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Tips For Managing Different Time Zones When Traveling

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Different countries around the world use different time zones. This means that while traveling you often have to train your body to get used to eating and sleeping at different times. 

A lot of people experience ‘jet lag’ when traveling through multiple time zones. This when your body fails to adjust properly, resulting in you feeling sleepy during the day. Knowing how to adjust properly is important so that the first few days of your trip aren’t wasted due to being too tired.

When it comes to contacting people back home, it could also be important to keep track of different time zones. This is important so that you don’t call friends and family at inappropriate times. 

All in all, different time zones can present various challenges. This post offers a few tips on how to manage different time zones effectively when traveling. 

Consider adjusting your sleep schedule before you travel

If you’re traveling somewhere that is in a completely different time zone such as Australia or the US, it could be worth trying to adjust your sleep schedule before you set off to travel to reduce jet lag.

 For example, if you’re traveling somewhere that is several hours ahead, it may be worth going to bed and getting up a little bit earlier in order to adjust. Similarly, if you’re traveling somewhere that is a few hours behind and you’re typically an early riser, you may want to try going to bed a bit later and getting up later a couple nights before you fly (providing you don’t have to get up for work early or that you don’t have an early flight!).

Avoid taking a nap when you arrive

After a long sleepless flight, you may be tempted to take a nap in your hotel room as soon as you arrive. This is fine if you arrive at your hotel at night as you can then easily adjust your sleep schedule. However, if you arrive in the morning or the afternoon, it could be worth forcing yourself to stay awake until the evening. A common mistake people make is taking a nap at 3AM when they arrive and then waking up at midnight – your whole sleep schedule is then messed up and you could end up being exhausted for the first few days as you try to readjust your schedule.

It will be a challenge staying awake for that first day, however it will prevent you wasting the first few days of your trip due to being shattered, so it’s worth struggling through.

Eat breakfast if you arrive in the morning

If you arrive at your destination in the morning, consider eating some breakfast. Our body clock relies a lot on routine – by eating familiar meals at certain times, you may be able to quickly reprogramme your body to get used to the new time zone. Don’t try to prepare dinner in the morning (even if it would be your usual dinner time back home) as this will screw up your whole body clock and make you more likely to want to sleep in the afternoon.

Stay hydrated

A lot of the tiredness caused by jet lag isn’t just due to changing time zones – dehydration is a common cause of jet lag too. You’re more likely to get dehydrated on a plane due to the dry cabin air. This dehydration could make you more tired when you arrive at your destination, encouraging you to take an unwanted nap.

Make an effort to drink lots of water before, during and after your flight. Be wary of drinking lots of alcoholic drinks of coffee on the plane – these drinks can further dehydrate you. If you are going to have some alcohol or coffee, try to pair this with some water.

Consider sleep supplements

If you’re traveling east, you’ll have to get used to going to sleep earlier. It can sometimes be difficult adjusting to an earlier bedtime (especially if you’ve had an early morning flight – 10pm may still feel like the afternoon). 

You could consider trying to take some sleep supplements to help you sleep that first night, especially if you’ve got activities planned the next morning. This will prevent the urge to stay up late and lie in the next day. Some people also take sleep supplements to help them sleep on the plane.

Check the time zone back home online

If you’re going to call friends or family members back home, make sure to look up the time back home before you call. You don’t want to wake someone in the middle of the night with a phone call (unless it’s very urgent) – consider trying to schedule a time that is good for both of you. 

You can check the time zone back home online if you have access to wi-fi – sites like Google allow you to easily check different time zones. There are also apps that help you compare times in different countries so that you know when to make a call.  

Consider a GMT or dual time watch

Another way to quickly keep track of two different time zones is to use a GMT or dual time watch. These watches are able to display two different times at once so that you can easily track the time in your destination and the time back home.

This GMT vs dual time watches guide explains the difference between the two watches. Being able to check a watch may be more convenient than checking your phone. 

Be wary of countries with multiple time zones

Some countries contain multiple time zones within them such as Australia, Russia, the US and Brazil. When traveling across these countries, it can be important to take into account the different time zones, especially if you have to grab a flight or get a bus or train at a specific time. 

If you need to be somewhere by a certain time, consider whether it’s in your time or their time. Any booking confirmation documents will usually detail this.

Tips for Trip Success

Book Your Flight
Find an inexpensive flight by using Kayak, a favorite of ours because it regularly returns less expensive flight options from a variety of airlines.

Book Your Hotel or Special Accommodation
We are big fans of We like their review system and photos. If we want to see more reviews and additional booking options, we go to Expedia.

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