The Secret to Jet Lag

Last week, on my latest trip home to the US, I think I may have discovered the solution to jet lag: fly to Chicago–well, sort of. As this trip was a bit last minute (the beauty of freelancing), the best flight we could get was on Thanksgiving Day and flying through Chicago (with DC as the ultimate destination) [thanks mom and dad for the frequent flyer miles!]. While to many this may sound depressing, this combo was brilliant. Long ago when driving from Kansas to Saint Louis to see my grandparents on Turkey Day we discovered driving on Thanksgiving is the way to go – NO TRAFFIC! Same goes for airports – Chicago O’Hare was a breeze to navigate [middle image]. This where the secret to avoiding jet lag lies.
Not only does going the further distance on the first route (Paris – Chicago) give you a little extra time to catch up on “bad” movies you’d never watch unless they’re put in front of you (an enjoyable task from time to time), it adds another 3 hours to your layover. Add in another two hours of flying time from Chicago to DC, and there you have the 5 hours help you adjust to that 6 hour time difference. My flight first left Paris around 12:40pm, and ultimately – after a nap on my second flight – I got into DC at 9pm, and home by 10pm, which is a very respectable bedtime. And if you’re worried about sleep, melatonin or Tylenol PM can help. I woke up the next morning and felt like I was back on track.
I always think flying westbound is a bit easier than eastbound, but I was able to test my theory on the way back too, once again passing through Chicago en route to Paris. Ironically, I was a bit disappointed that significant tailwinds put our arrival one hour ahead of schedule (that’s one hour of beloved sleep!). With a 6pm departure from Chicago and 8am arrival in Paris the next morning, it all felt manageable. Despite a bit of fatigue on my first day back, I was able to adjust back to the hours fairly easily.

So yes, my secret to jet lag is flying out of the way to get you where you need to go! With the mess of airlines these days, it’s not that hard to do!

What about you? Any secrets to conquering jet lag?


  • A friend of mine swears by this: Going east take 1mg melatonin per hour time difference as soon as you get in the plane. Then the next evening. Going west take the melatonin before going to bed the first night. Take the same amount the evening after and Voila!
    I take Ambien when I get on the plane going east(the only time I ever tale ambien) and I don’t go to bed before evening in Paris (no nap, it kills me for the whole day). Coming back I do the malatonin thing. It works for me.

  • Love your photos :) Jet lag is a pain but I seem to do better when I go back to the states. I think it’s also my excitement to be there doesn’t allow me to get tired. Waking up early is so refreshing!

  • My secret to overcoming jet lag is to build in time on the arrival end to catch up on my Zzz’s. If possible, I like to schedule an early, early morning arrival, or one late at night. Either way, it’s either time for a nice long nap, or time to head straight to bed for the night. Both work like a dream and I feel fresh and back on track, immediately!

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