My transatlantic 1o1 travelguide

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This week I was the guest at SpeakingInTech podcast. It was just the result of Greg Knieriemen flying in through Brussels and we had a good day of watching some American Football in Belgium. I did give him some tips for transatlantic travelling, which he of course all dismissed as irrelevant so you’ll see him tweeting stuff at 3am local time for a few days. Because sharing is caring, here is my 1o1 on transatlantic travelling.


Going East

Scheduling: as you are shortening the day by 6 to 9 hours, book an overnight flight that leaves around 6PM. This will bring you on the other side between 8 and 10 am if you are coming from the East-coast, around noon if you come from the West-Coast.

The day before: don’t get a good night sleep or even go have a good night out because you want to be tired by the late afternoon. Just make sure you were packed on time 🙂

On the flight:

  • You want to sleep as soon as possible and as long as possible. Use a soft eye-cap and noise-canceling headphones and just shut yourself off as soon as you are on a decent altitude. It doesn’t matter that it’s still 6PM, on the other side we have crossed midnight already!
  • Because it is midnight, you should not be eating anything during your entire travel time. The last meal you want to have on your departure day is LUNCH! This is the most important trick of all. It makes sure your body is not digesting food while you should be sleeping (see LINKS below). Inform you flight attendants friendly that you will not take food. They will respect that.
  • Don’t drink anything else but bottled still water. But do drink enough of it. Small sips is good so you won’t have to go to the bathroom 20 times. Just make sure you keep hydrating yourself as you are not eating.

After arrival:

  • Eat what you are supposed to eat where you are and when it is appropriate. If you arrive before 9am, take breakfast. If you arrive after 10am, wait for lunch.
  • Adjust sleep to the local time! Do not take naps in between because they will keep you body in departure time. What you can do is adjust the time you go to sleep by about two hours or so but do that throughout the trip then. Example: at home I go to bed between 1 and 2 am, when I’m in the US, that’s between 10PM and midnight.

Going West

Everything we did in going East is pretty much the same as going West but the other way around. The biggest difference is that instead of extracting 6 to 9 hours we are adding 6 to 9 hours on that day. So here it goes for going West:
Scheduling: take a late morning flight. This way you’ll probably arrive after 3-5PM giving you enough time to get settled on the other side.
The day before: instead of being tired the day before to get a good night rest in the redeye, this time you want to have had a really good night sleep going West as we are enlarging the day and you want to stay awake.
On the flight:
  • If you have an 8am flight, that’s 2am or earlier on the other side of the Atlantic. I don’t recommend going back to sleep as that will most definitely not work since your body is on European time.
  • As you are flying while the arrival time is night, you shouldn’t be eating again. Not even breakfast before you left! So your last meal should have been a good dinner the night before. The rest of the meals on the flight are never decently adjusted to arrival time and the food is most probably horrible so keep starving yourself, it’s worth it after arrival.
  • Water, water, water. 
After arrival:
These tips are exactly the same: eat what you ware supposed to eat, sleep when you are supposed to sleep. Here the sleeping part will be the worst. You will want to go to bed at 7pm and you will wake up at 3am. Stay awake as long as possible and stay in bed as long as possible. Even if you are awake. Give your body the rest it deserves.

Timing Tips

  • Reserve a seat as close to the door as possible. You’ll thank me for that when you face the line at customs. Being in front of the plane versus at the back can save you 2 hours!
  • If you are not boarding in group 1 or 2, leave your your luggage in an overhead compartment a few rows in front of your seat. You don’t want to be the one that has to wait till 50 people have passed you on leaving the plane because your carry-on is in the back.
  • If you are a frequent traveller, a wristwatch makes a lot of sense. Set it to arrival time as soon as the plane sets off. Keep your smartphone to adjust to local time automatically. This method helps a lot when you have layovers in different time zones.
  • Take your time for everything! Go to the airport as early as possible, it gives you plenty of time to not care about traffic, you can have a decent chat at check-in with the airline staff, you can relax in the airline lounge if you have access, … the worst stress is travelling stress. 
  • Save work that has no deadline: I always have blogposts or whitepapers to write that don’t have deadlines. I save enough podcasts for during the flight or during waiting time. So take your time and make that time useful. If you do this, you’ll even be able to embrace delays because they made you finish that work that had no real deadline and would never had finished otherwise.


As this is my 1o1 that works for me. I would love to hear yours as well. Have you tried this methods? Did they work? What are your adjustments? 


  • I wrote a “work hard, party hard” part with tips and tricks for being smart with your body during tech conferences. It’s the second part of my post of the VMworld 2013 parties. LINK
  • I’m still looking for better tips on Connectivity Abroad. Roaming don’t work, local WiFi is equally expensive and not trustworthy and buying local SIMs is labour intense. LINK
  • I have brought a few tips and tricks especially with apps in my Travelhelp post. Don’t hesitate on helping me with more tips!
  • Stephen Foskett has been using the same method for a while and wrote the backround information here: Fasting to mitigate Jet Lag
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  1. For connectivity I used a Droam ( the last time I visited the US. It is a MiFi adapter which you “rent” from Droam, so you don’t have the hassle of getting a local SIM (and phone?). It is a decent solution, the only downside is the batterylife which can be a bit short when traveling a lot.

    I still consider this solution as a workaround, but for me the best one. It is about time, that data costs will lower.

    1. I’ve heard of ‘droam’ before or at least that type of service. It’s still quite expensive though if I compare it to buying a local SIM. If I look for one week, Monday to Friday which is usually the minimum that I am abroad, it still costs €60 ($85) for only 1GB of data. It almost matches the prices of roaming (€75/month/1GB).

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