How to choose the best time zones and countries to avoid jet lag

Want to get away, but don’t want to suffer the side-effects of a long-haul flight? Here are our top picks for destinations that will limit your jet lag.

Arriving in a new country for the first time can be the most exhilarating experience – but the downside is often the lost days of sightseeing while you’re getting over jet lag.

Jet lag refers to the symptoms you experience as your body clock adjusts to a new time zone, with different hours of daylight than where you’ve come from. So you feel generally lethargic during the day, irritable and can’t sleep well at night.

There are some tried and trusted ways to combat jet lag, including immediately adopting meal times and the bed time of the new time zone, and getting outside in the daylight to help you adjust.

But, if you suffer severe jet lag, you could just get to the root of the problem and opt for a holiday to somewhere in a time zone closer to Britain’s…

Go west

Jet lag is said to be worse when you’re flying east, compared with flying west across the same number of time zones. This is because your body clock is naturally wired to run for longer than 24 hours.

So if you’re flying to the US, for example, and gaining extra hours, you’ll just keep going. But if you’re planning a long-haul flight to places like Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, India and China, your day gets shortened and your body has to reduce its natural cycle.

Cross fewer time zones

Crossing just three to six times zones – so as far as the Maldives if you’re flying east or Jamaica if you’re heading west – results in less severe jet lag than crossing seven to 12 times zones (think Fiji), according to the NHS.

Whereas crossing one or two time zones shouldn’t cause you any problems as your body can cope with a couple of hours disruption to the natural rhythm.


A post shared by VillaGilGal (@villagilgal) on

Best countries for no jet lag travelling from the UK

- If you’re after somewhere exotic without the hassle of jet lag, Africa is probably your best bet. You could soak up the sun and surf of Cape Town in South Africa, which is just one hour ahead of GMT, so no problems there. Botswana is great for safaris and just two hours ahead of GMT.

-  Brazilian coastal capital Rio de Janeiro is just three hours behind GMT, so you shouldn’t lose any valuable party time over there.

- Or if you want a taste of Europe, with a little added lush greenery and volcanic excitement, the Portuguese archipelago the Azores is an often overlooked destination, slap bang in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and just two hours ahead of GMT.

More from BT