Traveling and Jet Lag
If you are looking to reduce jet lag (or at least plan for it), then you might be wondering if it’s easier to travel east or west. I was wondering that, too, since I do traveling from the United States to India, which is an 11 and 1/2 time difference for me.
Sometimes you don’t have a choice of which way you can travel to get somewhere. Even so, it’s good to know what to expect when you travel.
Here’s what I found out about jet lag and traveling east and west.
Most people say that traveling east (west to east) is more difficult. This is because, as you travel east, you lose time. You essentially skip over a sleep cycle the farther you go. If you travel (fly) west, then you are gaining time.
Is it Easier to Travel Internationally East or West?
Traveling requires a lot of preparation and this is especially true when traveling overseas. Jet lag affects 90% of travelers and the symptoms can last anywhere from one day to one week depending upon the duration of flight travel. Obviously, experiencing jet lag can diminish the traveling experience for many people. However, it is possible to avoid jet lag as well as make traveling within different time zones become more comfortable.
Let the following information serve as a guide towards the best method of travel in reference to east versus west.
Although traveling eastbound contains less physical mileage, the actual duration of the flight is longer. When traveling far overseas, such as to places like China or India, it actually takes longer to arrive there using the eastbound route.
For example, a flight from the United States heading towards China via the eastbound direction would travel for approximately twenty-two hours before landing. However, if the direction was reversed to the westbound route that same flight would only take roughly thirteen and a half hours.
What Are the Factors to Control Jet Lag?
The big difference in flight length is due to a couple of variables. F
irstly, the wind velocity is higher in the westbound direction which naturally aids the airplane causing a decrease in travel time.
Secondly, when heading westbound the airplane is traveling in a direction where the time will be earlier in the day. This difference in time basically decreases the number of hours of actual travel time. Because of wind speed and the difference in time zones, the flight to China headed westbound decreases travel time by roughly nine and a half hours.
Essentially, when traveling long distances and between various time zones it is best to travel via the westbound route. Not only is the flight time significantly decreased but the effects of jet lag are also considerably less. This is especially true when traveling overseas to places like India and China were the travel time decreases by several hours.
One rule of thumb to consider when preparing for travel is that jet lag and duration of flight are tied together. Simply, the least amount of time it takes to get somewhere makes the symptoms of jet lag less severe. Therefore, the journey becomes more enjoyable and comfortable as well.
Does Melatonin Help?
Some people swear by melatonin. They say it helps. I’d suggest trying it. For me, it gave me stomach problems but I have a pretty sensitive stomach. If yours is more bulletproof, then it might really help you like it has for others. Check with your doctor before taking it.
More Travel Resources
- Air travel – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Air travel is a form of travel in vehicles such as airplanes, helicopters, hot air balloons, blimps, gliders, hang gliding, parachuting, or anything else that can sustain flight.
- Getting Through the Airport, Tips for Getting Through Security
Get loads of air travel tips from a seasoned traveler. Learn about packing, safety, how to get through TSA and other ideas to help make your traveling more enjoyable and comfortable.