One of the hardest parts of traveling abroad is the jet lag. As a person who highly enjoys relaxing in bed for a good portion of my weekend, feeling constantly under-rested is trying on my will to go on.
To be upfront, I’m never a good sleeper. I never have been. I pretty much always wake up a few times in the night, and often struggle to calm my mind enough to actually drop off to sleep. However, my body is pretty well adjusted to this everyday inconvenience. I know how to tire myself out enough to achieve sleep and I have managed to work out how to still wake up rested, with interruptions. I also have a very dependent relationship with coffee.
Mixing up timezones along with my preexisting proclivity for poor sleep, is a recipe for grumpiness and desperate homesickness. I definitely don’t envy those who travel with me in the mornings. This trip, I’ve had the glorious experience of being so exhausted by the time 9pm rolls around that I pass out immediately. The down side to this is that I am bright eyed and bushy tailed at 2:30am, ready to face the day. As the day is not yet ready to be faced at that point, it has led to lots of binge watching shows in semi-darkness.
It has also led to my homesickness being a real thing. While I’m always a bit wistful for home when I am away, home never seems more inviting, and less attainable, than at 2:30 in the morning when the exciting place that I am visiting is completely asleep. It’s often the time that I wonder why I ever bother leaving my comfortable life. I already live in an exciting city. I get to explore San Francisco in my free time. I wander around Berkeley. I can relax while wine tasting in Napa. Why go somewhere else? Why spend the money and cause myself the anxiety? Why put myself in the position to desperately miss home and all those who come with it?
It’s usually not until I manage to fall back asleep for another hour or so, and reawaken when everyone else is waking up, that I remember why I am there. I remember the exhilaration of getting to meander through beautiful new places and find delicious new foods. I remember how thrilling it is to hear a multitude of languages spoken around me and see cultures coming together to share in novel experiences.
So anyway, jet lag is not my friend. I really wish we weren’t even acquaintances. As it seems to be an unwanted carry on that accompanies me on all of my travels, I guess I’ll just have to persevere. Keep reminding myself that it’s all worth it in the end. Pursued relentlessly by drowsiness, I have seen 10 countries, and counting! I have seen many amazing things and had experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything. Even the comfort of home. Amsterdam awaits.