Managing Jet Lag on the Return Trip Home

Written by Rem Malloy, since 1995 Rem has been guiding and designing trips to Italy and all of Western Europe and is considered an expert in his field for over 30 years.

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Departing

Now that you’ve explored and enjoyed all that Europe has to offer, its time to prepare for your journey back home. Along with memories for a lifetime, you may also be returning home with another souvenir: jet lag. No matter how long you stayed, often the return trip west hits harder than it did on your trip to Europe. 

Our body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, is naturally slightly longer than 24 hours. Traveling west extends your day toward an earlier time zone, making it harder to adjust and causes fatigue, difficulty concentrating and sleep disturbances. 

The duration to recover from jet lag varies. It typically takes a few days for your body to fully adjust to the new time zone. Factors like the direction of travel, the number of time zones crossed, your age, health, and other individual differences can influence how long it takes to overcome the effects. But with a bit of preparation and attention to detail, jet lag can be managed and overcome more easily. 

In part 2 of our series on jet lag, we focus on things you can do to help your body recover from the effects of traveling westbound across several time zones.

PreFlight

Plan ahead for what your schedule will be upon your return home. Often, an extra vacation day from work to sleep in, unpack and just reset is a good idea. It helps to prepare your home for your arrival, too. Clean sheets on your bed and some non-perishable light snacks or staples on hand for an easy to prepare meal will make for a smoother re-entry. For a stress-free return, be sure to confirm your transportation home from the airport the day before your flight. 

Tips for Italy4Real Guests: Remember to use our car and private driver services to ensure a hassle-free ride to the airport. Enjoy the comfort of fully inspected accommodations one last time before your departure, and let your journey back home begin on a stress-free note.

In the Air

Air travel is dehydrating and exacerbates the effects of jet lag. Drink plenty of water or herbal tea and avoid alcohol and caffeine that can further dehydrate you. Opt for healthy snacks and light meals. Move around as you are able in the cabin – stretch your legs and do in-seat exercises to keep your blood flowing. Try to reserve an aisle seat with more legroom and easier access to get up and stretch.  

On the flight itself, set your watch to your destination’s local time as soon as you board. It’s a psychological trick that helps your mind adapt more readily. It may seem like a minor alteration, but it can make a significant difference.

Smart Sleep Strategies

Your sleep strategy depends on the direction of travel and the time of arrival. If you’re arriving in the evening, try to stay awake during the flight. If you’re landing in the morning, catch some sleep on the plane as you still have a full day ahead of you. The goal is to return to your standard at-home sleep schedule as soon as possible. On the plane, dress in comfortable layers for temperature changes and if you’re trying to get some rest, use earplugs and an eye mask to create a sleep-friendly environment.

Post-Flight

Once you’ve landed, embrace the sunlight if it’s daytime, as natural light helps reset your internal body clock. Engage in a short walk or moderate exercise and eat a healthy, light meal. If you arrive at nighttime, avoid bright screens and heavy meals. Engage restful activities like reading a book and following your normal sleep routine. Worry about unpacking the next day. 

Conclusion: A Smooth Return Home

Jet lag might be an inconvenient side effect of travel, but with these strategies it can be managed more easily. Reflect on the memories of your travels and allow yourself a smooth transition back into daily life.

At Italy4Real, we are more than just a tour operator; we’re your travel companions, committed to providing the highest level of service and attention to detail. Should you wish to embark on another European journey, our experienced team is here to assist you. Explore our FAQ page to learn more about our trip planning process, timelines, and more.

Happy travels, and welcome home! We can’t wait to travel with you again soon. 

About the Author

Rem Malloy started Italy4real back in 1995 with his mother, Deborah de Maio.

He specialises in Italian tours as well as customised tours to France, England, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Greece and Spain. He was also featured in the Travel Channel show Mysteries at The Museum in 2016.

Rem has family in Italy and his mothers home town is Cava di Terrani, near the Amalfi Coast. The family has a street named after them in Sorrento, Via Luigi de Maio; a relative who was mayor of Sorrento.

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