Travel Tips: Adjusting to Time Zones Quickly

I don’t think I mentioned this on the blog previously, but I’m currently in Australia. My first work trip is a doozy, right? A 4 hour flight to Los Angeles, followed by a 14 hour flight to Sydney – lots of time to catch up on movies and sleep.


I consider myself a good traveler, but I’m a terrible packer. I don’t know if I’ve always been this way, but packing really stresses me out. I am always sure I will forget something, even though I have multiple packing lists.

What I AM good at is acclimating to a new time zone quickly. Partly because I grew up travelling frequently and partly because of planning. In case this isn’t something you are great at yet, I thought I’d share a few of my tips with you.

1. Do your research early. How far off is the time at your destination? Do you need to go to bed early or stay up late to adjust?

2. For international flights, have a sleep plan before you get on the flight. Try to match your hours as close to your destination as possible on the plane.

3. Plan for those around you to be on a different schedule during the trip – bring eye masks and/or ear plugs to block out light and sound. I’ve also listened to a “sound machine” app with nature or white noise to block out the noise.

So what does this look like in practice?

For my trip to Sydney, I found that it would be 9am at my destination when I boarded my first flight at 7pm. That means absolutely no sleeping on the first leg of the flight. When I boarded my second flight at 11pm LAX time, it was 4pm in Sydney. My goal was to stay awake for as long as possible (thank you “5 hour energy”), so that I could sleep a solid 7-8 hours toward the end of the flight. I only made it 3 hours, but not too bad!

When I arrived in Sydney, it was 7am on Sunday. Planning my sleep on the plane makes it easier to stay awake the full day and go sightseeing. The crazy sleep patterns make me feel a little off the first day, but by day 2 I typically feel alert and pretty good!

Just another example of Type-A planning in action – it’s a very useful “skill” sometimes. :)

Questions for you:

  • Are you a good packer and/or a good traveler?
  • What travel tips do you have to share?

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  1. says

    I always try to do the same thing with adjusting my sleep schedule, but it’s complicated by the fact that I’ve never been able to sleep on any type of moving vehicle. So then my only option is to stay up late the first night of arrival if applicable, and if what I need to do is go to bed early I won’t be able to sleep. Somehow, this only happens with short flights though. If I fly over two time zones, I’ll just be off by two hours the whole trip, but if I fly to the other side of the world, somehow I flip to the other schedule seamlessly. Weird.

    • says

      Oh man, that’s rough not to be able to sleep in a moving vehicle! It would be a LONG day of traveling without any sleep all the way to Sydney.

  2. says

    Sydney?! Awesome! Sounds like you’ve got a pretty cool job! :)

    I never used to be very good at packing but I’m definitely getting better. I’ve learned the whole “clothes roll” trick and while I used to think it didn’t actually work, I’ve found I was wrong and it DOES save me a lot of space. Yay!

    • says

      I do – very lucky!! For me it’s not about space, it’s just not feeling organized and being sure I’m missing something (like I really wish I had some warmer clothes for this trip).

  3. says

    Sydney?!?! So escited for you. I loved it there. If you have time, go for a run around The Rocks, (downtown near harbor). It’s a lovely area and if you can run on the Harbour Bridge, go for it. You can even go run next to the opera house and the giant park near it… I know, you are on vacation. But it was some of my favorite times there (running).

    • says

      I’m feeling like a slug right now – no workouts since Sunday, so I am planning on a nice long run on Saturday before the flight at a minimum. I think that park next to the Opera House is the botanical gardens. Thanks for the suggestions!


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