Notes From A Sometimes Judgmental Tourist: Beating Jet Lag



Brett Sills' debut novel is also available on Kindle.


A World Winder exclusive by Guestblogger Brett Sills, Author of My Sweet Saga


Ever see one of those movies where an old, spacey guy escapes from his nursing home, wanders the streets wearing only his flannel pajamas, scares innocent children with his meaningless rambles, then spontaneously bursts into tears because he has no clue where he is, nor how he got there?


Now you know what I’m like when I suffer from jet lag.


Before I figured out a way to combat jet lag, the first few nights of European vacations were hell.  Unless you like the feeling of being wide awake at 4am, while getting the distinct sense that your small hotel room walls are actually closing in on you.  In these instances, daylight seems as if its years away, and you will be stuck inside a Kafkaesque moment for eternity.  And, for me, these completely restless nights always gave way to frustrating days where I spent less time taking in the beauty of the city, and more time wandering aimlessly and scaring the locals.  I recall, during my first ever solo vacation, walking into a gelato shop and having my mind COMPLETELY BLOWN by the fact that the song playing on my iPod was also the same one playing on the store’s sound system (actually, it’s possible I imagined the entire thing).  Either way, I tried explaining this amazing coincidence to the girl behind the counter, as if this was like Halley’s Comet jockeyed by singing mermaids busting through the front door, but it only earned me a strange look and, no doubt, a wish to the heavens that I leave immediately. The things we are fascinated by when we are tired.


But I know I’m not alone.  How many times have you heard someone repeat the following phrase upon their return from a vacation: “once I finally got adjusted to the jet lag, it was time to go home! <TEE HEE-GAFFAW GAFFAW-ELBOW ELBOW>”


Well, it’s a good thing you clicked on this link because I’m about to reveal the secrets of beating jet lag.


Now, read carefully and follow these EXACT directions.  Let’s roll:




Because, under no circumstances, are you to sleep on this flight.  If you do, you’re dead before you’ve started, and you’ll be in for days of sleepless, tired pain. Yes, pain.  So, it’s time to be the charmer that your mom always claimed you to be, and engage that girl in the most scintillating conversation imaginable.  If she declines and, instead, wants to watch TV, take note of what she’s watching and make a comment about that. Hell, lie to her and say you created the damn show. Just be sure to give her the entire arsenal because you’re going to need this girl to distract you from sleep for the next 8-10 hours.  And I don’t care if you’re married, engaged, or in a relationship, I’m not suggesting joining the mile high club, she’s just a pawn in your game to stay awake.  Remember, what happens in the plane, stays in the plane!  Plus, it’ll give you a story to tell for the rest of your life.  Not to mention, “plane sleep” is arguably the most unsatisfying kind of sleep there is, even worse than “family function” sleep.  I know it’s tempting and seems like a swell way to kill time, but it’ll do you no good.  It’s a tool of the devil.


Now, great, congratulations, you’ve managed to stay awake for the entire flight, but of course, you’re getting pretty damn tired.  So, you find your way to your hotel, you check-in, open the door to your room, and see one of the most beautiful sites you’ve ever laid your eyes on:  A luxurious king sized bed.  But, unfortunately…




That bed is going to entice you.  It’ll be perfectly made.  A million feather pillows. A thousand thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets.  It’s going to call to you like a siren convincing you to make a mistake.  It’ll sing, “Hey you, take off all your clothes, pull back my covers, roll around a bit, let out a sleepy sigh, and get in for the most enjoyable, comfortable sleep of your life.”  RESIST IT!  Hell, I don’t care if that bed has three gorgeous naked ladies strewn across it; you are not to get in.  If you feel the urge, head straight to the mini-bar, grab a can of coke, and pour it all over the sheets (similar to how my mother pours dishwashing detergent on chocolate she no longer wanted to eat.)  Once the possibility of comfortable sleep is ruined, and you’ve called the front desk about your oopsie woopsie, it’ll give you incentive to leave the room.  The perfect time to…




And by sites, I mean cafés.  Because you’re going to need caffeine.  And a lot of it.  Some vacations involve wine tastings where you sample several beverages made from the finest grapes in the world.  Well, for our purpose, you’re going to discover the intricacies of the espresso bean.  So, find a nice café, approach the counter, and when the barista asks what you would like to drink, you tell him, “let’s try a little bit of everything.” And when he gives you a strange look, you confidently say, “yeah, that’s right.” (Also, drink water, because you will need to stay hydrated (foreshadowing!)  Proceed to pound that coffee like it’s Evian and you just ran a marathon through a Sahara summer.  If you want something to eat to help ease your stomach, have at it.  Who am I to stop you?


Now, once you’re finished with all that coffee and water, you’ll probably have that uneasy half buzzed/half tired feeling that no one enjoys.  So, that means it’s the perfect time to …




Lace your shoes and run through the fatigue of jet lag.

Oh, yes.  There ain’t no rest for the wicked, not up in here.  Now, I don’t care if you have to literally drag your tired self  three miles, you will run and work off that crappy coffee buzz.  You might be thinking, “Hey Brett, this sounds extraordinarily unhealthy, perhaps I shouldn’t do this,” but I figure army drill sergeants put their boot camp recruits through much worse than a quick run through a foreign city.  Not to mention, a jog is a great way to acclimate yourself to your new surroundings.  Trust me, you’ll thank me when it’s done.  Plus, the human body is resilient, you’ll be OK, so grab your iPod, listen to your favorite tunes, and get sweatin’.  You’re a soldier, you’re a warrior, you’re on a mission.  Rock this!


After your refreshing run, you’ve earned that moment of solace in the shower.  Feel free to rest your head on the tile wall, catch your breath, just don’t drift off to sleep.  Plus, you don’t have time to because…




Hey, it’s a new city you’re visiting.  You probably have no clue where to eat!  That’s OK.  March on down to the concierge and ask him to pick five of his favorite restaurants in town.  He’s going to happily pull out a map and mark off his choices with red X’s.  Regardless of which restaurant sounds best to you, you are to pick the one that is FURTHEST from the hotel.  Naturally, he’s going to suggest taking a cab because of the distance, but you’ll stick a defiant finger in his face and say, “Nuh-uh, Imma walk this.”


And proceed to stroll the two miles to dinner.  Now, once there, you’ll probably be bordering on tired delirium.  No worries, that’s just a clear sign that you’re doing everything right.  Plus, this is a moment to put your feet up and relax. Take some time to refuel with some good, local eats, but remember to carb up because this night ain’t over.  Because after you’ve eaten dinner, had your dessert (and perhaps another coffee), it’s time to…




It doesn’t really matter which one, because this choice isn’t about having a good time, it’s about killing enough minutes until you have to go to bed.  Please don’t make this harder on yourself and pick a dark spot with a soothing, background piano, what you need is a rowdy Irish pub with music festive enough to wake the dead.  And, just like on the plane, engage the people around you!  Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Brett, I’m shy.  Brett, I don’t want to talk to anyone, I’m tired, wah wah wah.”  Well, you know that British guy in America with the face that looks like the bottom of a shoe after a muddy day?  You know how he gets all the girls because of his accent?  THAT”S YOU!  Now, you’re the novelty!  Use this to your advantage! Tell ‘em stories about that mythical land in which you came from called “America.” Spin yarns about New York City and Hollywood! But, because you’re going to be relentlessly charming, some girl, no doubt, will ask you to join her and her friends for the rest of the evening.  Of course, this will be tempting, but you need to say, “Baby, I’m no good for you tonight, but gimme your number, I’ll hit you up tomorrow and we’ll have the time of our lives.”  She’ll pout, of course, but trust me you don’t want to fall asleep on her, and you will.  So you leave both the bar and her guessing about the mysterious American she just met. And now you’re in the home stretch because it’s…




OK, I know you’re exhausted. Beyond exhausted.  Perhaps this has been the most sleepy you’ve ever been in your life.  You’ve been up for about 36 straight hours, had a stressful day of travel, way too much coffee, but now you must summon every last ounce of energy for that short walk to the hotel, which will probably seem like running a marathon on hot coals.  But release your inner Usain Bolt and fight your way back.  Now, under no circumstances are you to talk to anyone, because I can’t guarantee that whatever comes out of your mouth will actually sound like English.  Keep your head down, keep focus, and get back to your room because you are about to embark on the most glorious slumber of your life.


But once you enter your room, stare down that beautiful bed with its fresh sheets, you must …




Again, I know what you’re thinking.  Your tongue is hanging out of your mouth like a panting dog, your shirt’s untucked, your gait is similar to a zombie’s.  The only thing you want in the world is a nice sleep, so why in God’s name would you also need to take a sleeping pill?  Mark my words: If you fall asleep without one, you will wake up three hours later tired enough for every single activity on Earth BUT sleep.  You’ll be stuck in that room with the converging walls, staring at that blue digital clock that just won’t seem to move no matter how hard you will it.  Why take the chances?  Pop the pill and engage in a wonderful eleven-hour slumber that you will one day tell the grandkids about.


You’ll wake up refreshed and ready to start your awesome, jam-packed vacation.  And by the next evening, you will be on local time.



Brett Sills is a multi optioned screenwriter/freelance ad writer who would love nothing more than to move to Europe and sell fruit. He just released his first novel, My Sweet Saga, which is available online on and all other major retailers.

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