Before we left on our trip I did some serious thinking about how to minimize jetlag. In traveling from time zone to time zone in the US, I’ve found that the best thing to do is immediately reset my watch and go on the new time for meals and sleep. Friends who do lots of overseas travel advised us to do the same for this trip. Don’t nap, just push through the tired feelings and get on the new time.
As I looked at our flight schedule, I realized that we left in the late afternoon. We would have dinner at a normal hour for our body clocks, but we would be flying into darkness, and would land in Germany early in the morning. The way I calculated it, when we finished dinner it would be about midnight, European-time. So the sooner I could go to sleep after dinner, the better I would be the next day in Germany.
Since I started my own business, I have tended to stay up late at night and sleep late in the morning. I began to roll that back in the weeks before the trip. By the time we left, I was going to sleep about 10:15 – 10:30 and getting up at 6:15 or 6:30.
So the day of our flight, I finished a movie after dinner, curled up with my neck pillow and got a decent amount of sleep. We had breakfast on the plane in European time. By the time we collected our luggage, got through customs, met up with our tour director and checked into the hotel, it was time for lunch, European time.
Because we had been sitting for most of the day before, we wanted to take a walk after lunch. The tour director told us there was a park near our hotel that we might enjoy in the afternoon. It was a lovely forested area with hike and bike trails. We walked briskly for about an hour.
There was a dinner that night for all of the members of the tour. The tour director told us we would get a wake up call at 6:00 the next morning. We all groaned. He explained that we would probably be awake about 4:00 or 5:00 anyway and we might as well get an early start. After dinner we were tired! We went to our room and were easily able to fall asleep.
Getting up at 6:00 was surprisingly easy, because it was closer to American time. The tour director kept us on that schedule for the whole two weeks. He explained that we were already used to it, and it let him book us for the first tour of the day in castles and other sites of interest.
Sure enough, when we flew home, the 6:00 wake up time made it much easier to adjust to American time. I had taken melatonin with us, but neither of us ever used it. I have tried to stay in this early to bed, early to rise schedule since we got home. Some days old habits resurface, but most of the time I make it. And I certainly feel better when I do.
Our tour handbook said, “Be prepared for daily walking (up to two hours) involving stairs, cobblestones, and unpaved surfaces. Some sightseeing activities may require extensive standing. Historic city centers are usually more accessible by foot than vehicle.” So we packed comfortable clothes and sturdy shoes.
This was indeed a physically active tour. We had two excursions a day that involved walking. We usually climbed the stairs at our hotel rather than wait for the elevator. I carry about 10 pounds of camera equipment in my backpack everywhere I go, so that ups the ante on exercise.
Every hotel had a fitness room, and I never used any of them. I had brought workout clothes, but by the time we had walked so much of the day, I didn’t feel the need for more exercise. I never felt tired at the end of the day, but I certainly had not been lazy either.
We did not take our phones on the trip. We took an old laptop so that we could check email and get news from home. We couldn’t understand the language on TV. So after dinner I would back up my photos, then we would read a little bit and go to sleep early. It was a wonderful lifestyle. In a way I was sorry to get back home where computers, telephones, and TV control so much or our lives.