“She said she was terribly sleepy on the first day because of the jet lag. Haha, that won’t happen to me! I will walk half of the city right after the flight!”
“Ah, he was probably not in shape! I can resist all environments, no matter what! I will jump directly from the plane in the middle adventures!”
“Oh, but I’m a night owl! There’s no way I won’t resist, I am sure I can manage that!”
Well, hold on, Xena! Hold on, Hercules! Things are not quite that simple as you’d expect. Yes, I know. We are all full of courage and become heroes once we hear stories about jet lag.
Even if long-term travelers warn us, we are suddenly full of self-confidence that nothing can touch us. That is if we understood what jet lag is and how it works. But, actually, the first day influences a lot of things that you may consider in advance.
Here are 5 ideas I gathered from my solo trip to Japan. I would recommend you think them through next time you plan a journey implying crossing continents, cultures and people…crossing time.
1) Take care of your body
As much as YOU want to do things, YOUR BODY can decide differently.
Pay attention to what your body transmits you and treat it with compassion. This body is the only one that will keep you company for the following days of travel. Treat it as if it were your best friend. If you don’t take care of it, how can you expect that it is taking care of you? Doing its job correctly and carrying you everywhere you’ve planned?
I personally tried to pretend I didn’t hear the ‘voice’ of my body, until well, it couldn’t handle anymore. In the first day of my travels, after no more, no less than 20 hours of flights and waiting time in airports, my body was shouting me to stop and rest. Making the same mistake I plead here for you not to, I pushed myself, willingly, though not willingly sometimes, to do more. Nevertheless, my body didn’t really care about what I wanted and desperately tried to give me signals that it’s time to take a break.
- While searching for the convenience store to pick up my SIM Card, I got lost in the airport;
- When stopping to change my SIM card, I did it exactly near a bunch of weird looking guys (all smirking at me), when I would always avoid such situations;
- While searching for a place to buy the SUICA Card, it took me 20 (!) minutes to think maybe I could ask at the information center…which was in the middle of the room the whole time.
I was completely disoriented.
Still, after all these signals, I was even thinking of myself of a Clark Kent ready to become Superman when things go wrong. For sure my body was not in the same line of thought as me. After I arrived at the hostel and took a shower, I was suddenly struck by a grave sleep and sickness, and couldn’t remain standing for too long. Yup, that was the moment when I decided it was time to listen to my body and have a short nap.
So please, listen to your inner voice, treat your body respectfully, and it will take you to all the unknown adventures awaiting you.
2) Always plan your first day in advance
Have you read until here? You know then, by now, how crucial it is to plan your first day in advance. If you’re adventurous, go ahead, don’t prepare the rest of your days and see where the road takes you. But definitely, I wouldn’t recommend doing it with the first day and especially if it is your first solo travel. Better not.
Plan the first day, have all information you need, written down somewhere (properly written, besides your phone, just in case you remain without battery or internet..or worse!), and try to follow your plan at least until you reach your accommodation.
3) Never suppose you already know things, just check
Been there, done that. Last year when I went to Japan, my flight was with the destination in Tokyo. At the airport in Tokyo (whichever), you can buy their special card that I mentioned, SUICA. You see, SUICA works almost for all service providers and you can pay nearly everything with it.
I wrongly supposed that if you find it in Tokyo, you can buy it all around the country. Nothing more than wrong.
In Nagoya airport (Chibu International), my destination this time, there was only Manaca, same thing, another brand. Manaca is not that spread among service providers, as I was to discover later, and mainly you cannot use it for buying tickets for the Shinkansen. You can imagine my face after I found out this information, especially as I had already popped up my Manaca with all the amount needed for two weeks of transportation.
Lesson learned. Check, don’t suppose.
4) Know your physical strength
If you are backpacking, don’t neglect this one. Again, don’t play Xena or Hercules thinking that you will be able to go around with your full backpack. Especially on the first day when your body seems not to listen to you anymore. Your trip will become more of a burden than a pleasure.
It’s really fun backpacking and practical; I couldn’t say anything else! But don’t jeopardize your health for that. Take care of yourself and your body. I’m telling you, it won’t be so much fun when your back starts hurting or you come home with knee pain because of all the weight of your clothes and devices.
Think about your health issues, how much can you carry and pack accordingly. Better to do two laundry machines than prejudicing your health.
5) Be ready to meet people
I am a mix between an introvert and an extrovert, but to be honest, that was one of the fun parts of my solo trip. Even if on the first day you won’t really feel like interacting so much with others, the people you will meet might be the ones that can help you throughout your trip. Or even become travel companions, if that’s what you’re looking for.
At least, that’s how it worked for me.
With travelers and locals alike, I had thoughtful and intriguing discussions about Japanese culture, their habits, politics, bullying issues, the image of Japanese people around the world in their eyes and the image foreigners have in Japan. Really, really fascinating subjects, directly from the source. What can you desire more from a solo cultural journey?
These were the people that helped me with pieces of advice all along the way and kept me virtual company during my adventures. Oh, and their karaoke is so much fun! (Thanks, A., for that!) With some, we’ve even decided to meet later on, in other places around the world!
So go ahead, and speak with people you feel you have some connection throughout the day! You will see the difference of having them when you’ll need it.
What are your best tips for a jet lag day? Would love to hear your stories! ♥️
Originally published at anabriard.com on December 4, 2018.