I love living in Europe, I really do. And I love going home to visit, I really do. But, I loathe making the trip between the two locations.
I don’t travel well.
My Mom would say that this comes of no surprise. I was the squalling infant who would scream louder when put in a car seat. Seriously. It was so bad that one of my Mom’s aunts insisted that I must just hate my hand-me-down car seat. Said Great Aunt of mine bought me a brand new car seat with the latest bells and whistles and even had it’s own sunshade which was apparently revolutionary in 1985. It didn’t help. I still started screaming the instant I was put in the car seat and wouldn’t stop until I was taken out of it.
This translates to today. In the last year I have taken 7 transatlantic flights. Each flight takes approximately 15 hours travel time. I think I have slept for a combined 7 hours during these flights. 4 of those came on the most recent flight when I doped myself up with a double dose of sleeping pills. Even those 4 hours where broken up by crying babies, lights coming on and off, and breakfast being served.
There’s a major time zone difference.
Every one of our trips, after the original flight here, has taken us through Texas. That’s a 7 hour difference from my day to day. Which means that the trip there isn’t that bad, though I’m dead on my feet when I arrive. This resulted in me being in no mood to party when I went to a bachelorette party during this last trip. I had barely been in the States for 24 hours, my body was still on German time and was pretty put out with me for staying out until 0700 it’s time, who cares if that’s as lame as heading to bed by midnight. Still, I can typically push through, because I do get to sleep soon. And it’s awesome for traveling afterwards because sleeping in until 0800 local time means that my body thinks it’s mid afternoon and it’s ready to go.
Coming back though? It’s brutal. The flights are typically mid-afternoon to early evening. Though we rarely get a direct flight, so that means a full day at the airport prior to the long flight. The catch is that they land first thing in the morning for us. This last time, we left the States at 1600 EST and landed in Germany at 0600 local time. Then we had to deplane, get luggage, clear customs, find our shuttle, and drive home. I took a one hour nap this last time and woke up crankier and groggier than when I went to sleep. We went to bed at 2200 that night and slept for 14 hours.
It’s hard to right the schedule.
Like I said, it’s easy enough when traveling to the US to get back on the same schedule. Waking up early doesn’t come naturally to either one of us, so we adapt rather quickly to not getting up at 7 or 8 in the morning. Unfortunately, that makes it even harder to get up back here at home. Going to bed the first night is easy, but waking up the next morning? It’s tough. Because, my body is still on time 7 hours later, so noon for me is reading like 0500. Sleeping in that late though, makes it harder to go to bed the next night, which makes it harder to get up the next morning. And as easy as that, I can reverse my sleep schedule.
Last year, that wasn’t such a big deal. I never taught before 1400, so sleeping in was no biggie. This year? I teach morning lessons on both Monday and Tuesday. So…I can’t sleep for all hours.
Aren’t I a horrid person for complaining about jet lag?
It feels like one of those things that I shouldn’t complain about. I mean, jet lag means I’ve gotten to visit family back home and highlights the fact that I’m getting to live it up in Europe. But the fact is, it’s probably the second suckiest part about living over here.
Still, I’ll take it. I get to make great memories when I travel home. That’s totally worth wanting to squall like a baby when I put my seatbelt on during the flight.