Tag Archives: Travel

Frequent Travel Could Make You 7% Happier (Travel)

People dreaming of travel post-COVID-19 now have some scientific data to support their wanderlust.

A new study in the journal of Tourism Analysis shows frequent travelers are happier with their lives than people who don’t travel at all.

Chun-Chu (Bamboo) Chen, an assistant professor in the School of Hospitality Business Management at Washington State University, conducted a survey to find out why some individuals travel more frequently than others and whether or not travel and tourism experiences have a prolonged effect on happiness and wellness.

The results of his analysis show individuals who pay more attention to tourism-related information and frequently discuss their travel plans with friends are more likely to go on regular vacations than those who aren’t constantly thinking about their next trip.
Additionally, participants in the survey who reported regularly traveling at least 75 miles away from home also reported being about 7% happier when asked about their overall well-being than those who reported traveling very rarely or not at all.

“While things like work, family life and friends play a bigger role in overall reports of well-being, the accumulation of travel experiences does appear to have a small yet noticeable effect on self-reported life satisfaction,” Chen said. “It really illustrates the importance of being able to get out of your routine and experience new things.”

Previous studies have examined the stress relief, health and wellness benefits of tourism experiences, but they have tended to examine the effect of a single trip or vacation. Chen’s research takes these previous studies one step further by looking at the sustained benefits of travel over the course of a year.

Participants in the study were asked about the importance of travel in their lives, how much time they spent looking into and planning future vacations, and how many trips they went on over a year. They were also asked about their perceived life satisfaction. Out of the 500 survey participants, a little over half reported going on more than four pleasure trips a year. Only 7% of respondents did not take any vacations.

As travel restrictions due to COVID-19 begin to relax in the future, the research could have important implication for both tourists and the tourism industry. Based on the results of the study, Chen said travel companies, resorts and even airlines could launch social media campaigns, such as creating hashtags about the scientific benefits of vacation, to spark people’s interest in discussing their opinions about travel.

“This research shows the more people talk about and plan vacations the more likely they are to take them,” he said. “If you are like me and chomping at the bit to get out of dodge and see someplace new, this research will hopefully be some additional good motivation to start planning your next vacation.”

Reference: Chen, Chun-Chu, Zou , Sui-Wen (Sharon), Petrick, James F., “Would you be more satisfied with your life if you travel frequently”, Tourism Analysis, 2020. https://doi.org/10.3727/108354220X16072200013427 https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/cog/ta/pre-prints/content-2017-0010#Cits

Provided by WSU

The Psychology of Doom Tourism and Last-Chance Travel (Psychology)

Can we overcome the paradox of dark tourism?

The statues of Easter Island are as iconic as they are mysterious. Erected over 600 years ago, they also provide a cautionary tale for the present day.

Easter Island has been proposed as a model for the entire worldSource: Photo by Steven Weeks via UnSplash.

The small, isolated island in the South Pacific, known by its earliest inhabitants as Rapa Nui, was at one point home to a thriving community of over 15,000. However, through a gradual process called “ecocide,” Easter Islanders overharvested the island’s resources, and ultimately, themselves. As Jared Diamond explains in his 2005 book, Collapse: “Gradually trees became fewer, smaller, and less important. By the time the last fruit‐bearing adult palm tree was cut, palms had long since ceased to be of economic significance. … No one would have noticed the feeling of the last small palm.”

Archaeological evidence suggests that only a few generations after this environmental upheaval, the population dwindled and the civilization collapsed.

More recent work suggests a wrinkle to this story — that European diseases may have also contributed to Easter Island’s demise. And in addition, the Rapu Nui inhabitants may not have died off immediately following the environment’s collapse, but instead lived an adjusted lifestyle for a few more generations, feeding off of small rodents that infested the island.

These points remain controversial but the larger lesson remains clear: Humans are capable of destroying the finite environmental resources that our lives depend on.

The Paradoxical Psychology of Doom Tourism

The earth is its own island. As Diamond predicted in Collapse, we’d soon find ourselves in an analogous situation with respect to the earth’s resources. As he describes, it’s the “clearest example of a society that destroyed itself by overexploiting its own resources.” And here we are.

If we’re to heed the cautionary tale of Easter Island, it’s crucial to understand why it unfolded. The key to this may lie in better understanding the biases in our consumer behavior. And while we can’t go back and study this in the Rapa Nui, we do have a live simulation of this in today’s world: Doom Tourism.

Fragile sites like glaciers have seen increased interest from touristsSource: Photo by Jonatan Pie via UnSplash.

While climate change poses a longer-term existential threat, it currently threatens specific geographies at a much faster timescale. The coastlines of the Maldives become more constricted as sea levels rise, threatening to submerge them entirely within the century. The glaciers melt further away each year. Animal species of the Amazon become more threatened and sparse each passing year.

Here is where Doom Tourism comes in: When a certain site becomes sufficiently endangered it actually increases the demand to go and see it. And as more and more people go visit this site, it further damages its ecology, making it more endangered, and in turn, increasing demand. This sort of “last chance” travel generates a vicious cycle, leading to the acceleration of an already environmentally dire situation. This dynamic is often referred to as the doom tourism paradox.

Our susceptibility to it is grounded in our own psychology. The scarcity principle predicts that as a good becomes rarer, its demand increases. And this is exactly what has happened with at-risk tourist locations. Sadly, the activity of seeing these last chance travel destinations also accelerates their demise.

This is why the increasingly fleeting nature of these tourist experiences only stimulates their demand. You can go see the Eiffel Tower anytime, but there may only be a narrow window to see the Glaciers of Antarctica in all of their majestic glory.

Another kind of psychological bias is also working against us. With hordes of people heading to at-risk sites each year, the contribution of any given individual seems less and less. And therefore, refraining from doing so is perceived as being trivial. It’s all too easy to think, “If thousands of people go each year, what’s one more person?”

Recent research found that nearly three-quarters of visitors to the Great Barrier Reef were motivated to see it before it disappears. However, one’s concern for the reef, and the beliefs about how much damage their visit would cause was completely uncorrelated. Even environmentally-minded consumers seem blind to the negative impact their individual visits can bring.

Together, these forces conspire to create a classic “tragedy of the commons” scenario, in an accelerated race to the bottom.

The Philosophy of Doom Travel

Where do we go from here? The issue of Doom Tourism is brought to the fore in philosopher Emily Thomas’ book, The Meaning of Travel. Her writing raises important philosophical and ethical questions about its practice. In examining these questions, we’re offered suggestions on how we might overcome them.

For example, she examines the prospect that doom tourism can be given an educational bent, and that people may come to appreciate these sites and become ambassadors for their protection. Unfortunately, these interventions do not seem to work in practice. Dr. Thomas points to research suggesting that visiting Antarctica either did nothing to change the tourists’ environmental beliefs, or more troublingly, found that these visits decreased environmental friendliness.

Has the environment been given a lifeline by COVID-19? As stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions have proliferated throughout the globe, these trends have been stemmed. People are locked indoors more and more; Doom Travel has been overwhelmingly replaced by Doom Scrolling.

There’s a lot to say about the human, psychological toll that the pandemic has taken. But on the prospects of environmental stability, Dr. Thomas is cautiously optimistic. “If the ecological reports are to be believed, the pandemic has been positive for the environment. It has dramatically reduced flights, and these may be lasting changes. For example, we’ve learned that in business, a lot of things don’t require in-person meetings and can be done virtually”.

And as she points out in her book, progress in this domain may accelerate. Just as deterioration accelerates demand, rejuvenation may quell demand. The Great Barrier Reef goes back to being simply beautiful, not fleetingly beautiful. She writes, “Looking ahead, if our attempts at protecting places like Antarctica or the Great Barrier Reef fail, these sites will continue to deteriorate. Unfortunately, as their at-risk status increases, so too may visitor numbers. Conversely, if we succeed in protecting these places, they may cease to be at-risk. That could lead to visitor numbers dropping.” (p. 186)

The slope goes both ways, and human behavior will determine the direction.

Final Words on the Psychology of Doom Tourism

In Doom Tourism, we can see how our psychological biases, in tandem with market forces, can accelerate the destruction of our own environment.

COVID-19 has clearly dealt humanity a difficult hand. But if there’s a silver lining, it may have given the environment a much needed break from human travel in general, and Doom Tourism in particular. In the best-case scenario, it has illustrated the capacity for us to come together as a global society, collaborate, and take on collective sacrifice for the greater good.

But while these events provide a glimmer of hope, today’s environmental challenges are as pressing as ever. Easter Island provides us with a tragic, cautionary tale; Doom Tourism provides us with a modern, small-scale simulation. Whether we’ll heed these lessons remains to be seen.

References: (1) Diamond, J. (2005). Collapse: How Societies Choose To Fail Or Succeed, Penguin Group USA. (2) Gates, B. (Aug, 2020) COVID-19 is awful. Climate change could be worse, Gates Blog. (3) Hunt, T. and Lipo, C. (2010) The Statues That Walked: Unraveling The Mystery Of Easter Island, New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. (4) Krulrich, R. (2013). What Happened On Easter Island — A New (Even Scarier) Scenario, NPR. (5) Piggott-McKellar, Annah E., and Karen E. McNamara (2016). ‘Last Change Tourism and the Great Barrier Reef’, Journal of Sustainable Tourism 25: 397–415. (6) Thomas, E. (2018) The Meaning of Travel: Philosophers Abroad. London, UK: Oxford Press

This post also appears in the consumer behavior blog PopNeuro.

Buzz Aldrin Claimed $33.31 In Travel Expenses For His Moon (Astronomy)

You know how work trips go. Do your business, save your receipts, and submit those expenses on a report for reimbursement. Why would astronaut biz be any different? Shooting up to the moon is just another day on the job, after all.

The Apollo 11 moon landing of 1969 was an instantly iconic moment in world history. So, it can be easy to forget that Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins were just fulfilling the duties of their job just like anyone on Earth — mundane tasks included.

In July 2015, Aldrin reminded us of that fact when he tweeted a photo of a forgotten souvenir from the journey: his travel voucher. The image outlines the unique points of travel: Houston, Texas > Cape Canaveral, Florida > Moon > Pacific Ocean (USS Hornett) > Hawaii > Houston, Texas. The grand total for reimbursement? Just $33.31 (for a rental car). Not bad for a round-trip ticket to the lunar surface. Anyone’s guess if Aldrin was reimbursed in a timely manner.

In August 2015, Aldrin tweeted another photo of a fantastically ordinary piece of history from the trip: a customs form. All three of the Apollo 11 astronauts had to sign a customs form upon returning to Earth in Honolulu, Hawaii, on July 24, 1969. The document declared that the “cargo” they had brought back included “moon rock and moon dust samples.” Also included on the form is a portion for “any other condition on board that may lead to the spread of disease.” Answer: “TO BE DETERMINED.”

But it wasn’t all quite business as usual when the Apollo 11 astronauts came home from their multi-day jaunt on and around the moon. The three men were quarantined when they returned from the moon, just in case. And it wasn’t just a short pit stop in the Mobile Quarantine Facility before heading back home; the astronauts were cooped up in there for 21 days. Hey, safety first, right?

The crews of Apollo 11, 12, and 14 were all quarantined, Robert Frost, Instructor and Flight Controller at NASA, explained on Quora. “[W]e didn’t know that the Moon was sterile. We hadn’t been there before, so how could we know? How could we know that there wasn’t some form of life that could form and survive on a body like the Moon? How could we know that there weren’t hibernating microorganisms in the lunar soil, just waiting to wake up and infect every living human, animal or plant on Earth?” said Frost. “To ensure we were taking safety seriously, we had to assume that there could be biological organisms in the samples returned and on the crew, their spacesuits and their vehicle, and we had to take reasonable measures to contain such life forms.”

Only 3 People Know How To Make Rarest Pasta On The Earth (Food)

Imagine yourself on a pilgrimage. Traveling by foot, you and hundreds more make a rugged journey uphill in search of a singular experience. You’re not having a religious awakening. You’re just trying to get some pasta. But not just any pasta: it’s the rarest pasta on Earth.

Sufilindeu goes back at least 200 years — possibly as far back as 300. However old the recipe is, it’s a family affair. For centuries, the secret has been passed down from mother to daughter in the remote mountain village of Lula. Today, the recipe is kept by three women: Paola Abraini, her niece, and her sister-in-law. These are the only people on the planet capable of creating the dish, which consists of impossibly thin strands arranged in an intricate, gauzy lattice. It’s that incredibly skinny, fine structure that gives the pasta its name, which translates as “threads of God.” Angel hair, eat your heart out.

To try su filindeu, you’ll have to do a couple of things. First, you’ll have to wait until one of the biannual Feasts of San Francesco, in May and October. Those are the only times that the women make their pasta available to the public. Next, you’ll have to travel to the island of Sardinia, and then head towards the mountainous inland. The final part of your journey you need to complete on foot. It’s a 20-mile (32-kilometer) trek uphill with a couple hundred fellow travelers. At the end of it, you’ll be rewarded with a footbath and a bowl of rich but delicate su filindeu.

Actually, we might be exaggerating the secrecy of the secret. It’s not necessarily that the masters of su filindeu refuse to share the recipe. It’s probably more accurate to say that other would-be pasta-makers just can’t master it. In 2016, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver attempted to learn the technique but gave up after two hours. Abraini was willing to try to teach him, but he was in for an uphill battle because he didn’t grow up learning how to make the pasta. As Abraini told the BBC, “Many people say that I have a secret I don’t want to reveal. But the secret is right in front of you. It’s in my hands.”

The World’s Rarest Pasta Is Made Entirely by Hand

The Grand Tsingy In Madagascar Is A Deadly Forest Of Limestone Needles (Amazing Places)

Not unlike the movie of the same name, Madagascar is a wild, unique place. (Great flick, by the way.) The African island nation is home to a slew of endemic species and breathtaking natural landscapes to match. All that considered, it shouldn’t be too shocking to hear that the country boasts the world’s largest stone forest. It has a smaller one that’s bright red, too. Yes, we’re sure this isn’t Mars.

Img credit: gettyimages

The fourth largest island on Earth, Madagascar is home to plenty of double-take-worthy sights. The country developed independently, which sets the culture apart from the rest of Eastern Africa. Because the country was under French rule until 1960, there is evidence of French architecture throughout the cities. Mixed in with the old colonial vibe, the island’s original wooden architectural tradition can also be found, a tradition that was added to the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2003. But let’s talk nature too. First of all, lemurs. Second, tsingys. Third, lemurs on tsingys. Just keep reading.

What’s this tsingys? In Malagasy, “tsingy” means “where one cannot walk barefoot.” And that’s no joke. The word refers to tall, thin, needle-like rock formations that can be found throughout the country. Not to freak you out, but just one misstep through a tsingy forest could impale somebody.

The Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the largest example of a tsingy forest on Earth. How big? The reserve, which includes the veritable cathedral of limestone, stretches 375,600 acres. But the height is the really scary part; some of the rock pinnacles can reach 2,600 feet. Not only a stunning and/or terrifying sight to behold, this Tsingy in central west Madagascar is also a hub for endemism, as it’s home to many unique endangered flora and fauna (including — you guessed it — lemurs).

Img credit: gettyimages

NASA notes that the formation of the Tsingy began some 200 million years ago when layers of calcite at the bottom of a lagoon formed a thick limestone bed. Later, “tectonic activity elevated the limestone, and as sea level fell during the Pleistocene ice ages, even more of the limestone was exposed. No longer underwater, the ancient sediments were carved by monsoon rains, which washed softer rocks away and left tougher rocks standing. Meanwhile, groundwater carved caves below the surface. As cave ceilings gave way, canyons formed between rocky towers.”

Need something a little more Instagrammable? Tsingy Rouge is another stone forest you can find in the country. Oh, but this one is bright red. This Mars-like Madagascar landscape is the beautiful result of erosion.

Img credit: gettyimages
Img credit: gettyimages

Why Does The Return Trip Always Feel Shorter? (Psychology)

Whether on a road trip, a flight, or a bike ride, you’ve probably experienced the feeling that the way back is shorter than the way there — even when you know the actual time elapsed is exactly the same. What’s going on there? A number of researchers have looked into the phenomenon known as the “return trip effect,” and the explanation isn’t as obvious — or as straightforward — as you might think.

It might seem strange that two identical periods of time could feel vastly different, but in fact, your sense of time is incredibly flexible. Fear, excitement, and awe can all make time seem to slow down, while repetition or being “in the zone” can make it seem to speed up. The return trip effect seems to be another instance of your time perception being all loosey-goosey — it’s just that researchers can’t agree on what exactly that return trip does to your brain to make it feel so short.

There are a few different hypotheses, and we’ll explain them one by one.

Our hunch was that the return trip feels shorter because you know it better than you did on the way there, and a study published in 2015 bears this out. Researchers from Kyoto University had participants watch videos of a person walking two of three routes: one from what we’ll call point A to point B, another from point B back to point A, and a third on a completely different route — point C to point D. They consulted a map of the route as they watched their video. Only those who watched a round trip — point A to B and back to A again — felt the second trip was shorter. That was despite the fact that during the videos, they estimated that the exact same amount of time was passing. That suggests that the return-trip effect is a matter of your brain revising the past, rather than experiencing time move faster in the moment.

A 2016 study published in the journal Hippocampus sheds a little more light on what the brain might be doing to shrink the return trip. Researchers asked first-year college students to sketch a map of their campus, complete with travel time estimations between various points. They found that the more familiar a student was with the area, the larger the spaces they sketched and the shorter the travel times they estimated.

This might seem like a home run for the familiarity theory — but science is rarely that neat and tidy. A 2011 study published in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review contradicted those familiarity studies by switching the routes up. Researchers from the Netherlands and the U.S. had participants estimate the travel time in three real-life scenarios: a bus trip, a bike ride, and a lab test where they watched videos of someone else traveling. In all three experiments, people said the return trip felt shorter — even when the return trip was on a completely different but equidistant route.

These researchers thought this might be because you underestimate the time it’ll take to get to the destination — leaving you disappointed when it takes longer than you thought and likely to overestimate the time it’ll take to get back. When that overestimation of the return trip proves to be overblown, it feels delightfully shorter. Indeed, the participants who most reported feeling like the initial trip took longer than expected experienced the greatest return-trip effect.

Researchers for a 2016 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology had another hunch: Maybe the initial trip feels longer because you don’t know what to expect when you get to your destination. To find out, they brought students into one room of a lab, took them to another room one floor down to do a letter-search puzzle, then took them back to the first room. Half of the students were told where they were going and what they’d be doing, and the other half were kept in the dark. Those who didn’t know what to expect when they left the room judged the initial trip to be longer than the trip back.

All of these hypotheses — familiarity, overestimation, and anticipation — match up with the idea that time seems to move more slowly the harder your brain is working. For example, in 1975, Robert Ornstein showed participants either a circle or an irregular polygon and asked them to remember it. Even though the same amount of time passed before they were asked to recall the shape, those who were assigned the circle felt less time had passed than those who were assigned the polygon.

When you’re seeing new landmarks, wondering what the destination will be like, or repeating “are we there yet?” to your parents’ dismay, your brain is doing more work than when you’re seeing the same landmarks or thinking about what’s in the fridge at home. Regardless of the exact scientific explanation for why the way back feels shorter, it’s obviously your brain playing with your perception of time. In the end, maybe it’s best to just be happy you’re finally home.


You Can Kick Back In Pamukkale, Turkey’s Natural Travertine Bathtubs (Amazing Places)

Here’s a thing that you didn’t know you needed to add to your travel bucket list: an ancient spa city. That’s exactly what you’ll find in Pamukkale, Turkey. After seeing the photos of this spectacular site, it won’t be hard to believe that it is one of the country’s most visited tourist attractions.

The valleyside of Pamukkale, Turkey has grown naturally pristine white tubs of travertine filled with mineral-rich, warm water. And that’s all you need to know for your Instagram photo opp, but there’s way more. This village, whose Turkish name translates to “cotton castle,” has a storied history that makes the views that much more idyllic. The photo-worthy terraces sit on the hillside near the Roman city Hierapolis. (UNESCO declared both Pamukkale and Hierapolis as a World Heritage Site in 1988.)

The “spa city” was established at the end of the 2nd century B.C., and it became a go-to site for Romans seeking a soak in the thermal pools both for health and relaxation. When you’re not admiring the cliffside pools—which may be flooded with tourists in the daytime, explore the many ruins of the city that are less visited and still intact.

We promise the glistening basins of Pamukkale are not sculptures commissioned by Turkey’s tourism board. These hot tubs (the water is about 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) are all-natural, baby. The travertine terraces form over years and years of hot, mineral-rich waters that flow down a long canal. The high concentration of calcium carbonate in this water is what builds up into soft, white formations. Given enough time, these doughy shapes harden into the strong travertine reservoirs.

Tourists bathing in the pamukkale travertine pools and terrace’s

Because of the squishiness, tourists aren’t allowed on some of the lower parts of Pamukkale. Walking there will be damage the formation and whiteness of the terraces. Oh well, better just kick back in a different natural hot tub.


Why Does Boarding An Aeroplane Take So Long? Is There Any Better Way? (Travel)

In the long list of airline travel headaches, the boarding process has to be right up there with paying bag-check fees and finding just one freakin’ Starbucks, please. Why does it take so long? There has to be a better way. Well, it turns out that there is — many, in fact. The one thought to be the most efficient was conceived by an astrophysicist, and it’s called the Steffen Method.

HOW IT WORKS?

Jason H. Steffen, an astrophysicist at Fermilab, decided to come up with the method when he was in a familiar place — in line, waiting to board. “If the process was efficient,” he told the New York Times, “there would be no line.” He solved the problem using a computer program called a Markov chain Monte Carlo optimization algorithm, but the important part is the solution: It’s most efficient if you board passengers in every other row, back to front, window seat to aisle seat.

For example, let’s say you have a 30-row plane. The first passenger to get on would be the one seated in the A window seat of row 30. The next would be the window seat in row 28, then 26, and so forth. Once you hit the front of the plane, you start in the furthest back F window seat, those on the other side. When that’s full, the middle seat of row 30, 28, and so forth boards, then the same on the other side, then you move on to the aisle seats. Only when every other row is full do you move on to the odd-numbered rows.

BENEFITS AND DRAWBACKS

It’s that buffer between rows that’s the genius part of this system: There’s enough room between boarding passengers that nobody would ever have to stop. There’s a pretty glaring drawback, though: planes aren’t full of solo passengers. Couples and families, often with children, usually want and sometimes need to board together. Unfortunately, most novel boarding methods involve some form of this approach, which makes them impractical in the real world.

According to Thrillist, two airlines may have found the closest thing to a practical solution. One is Southwest, which has open seating. Instead of walking all the way to the seat on your ticket, you take the first seat that looks good to you. Then again, you’ll also frequently board the plane to see every aisle and window seat already taken. You and your loved ones will then be scattered in middle seats wherever you can find them.

There might be another reason that Southwest planes board more quickly: It’s the last major airline that doesn’t charge for bags, meaning, at least in theory, that fewer people are carrying on their suitcases.

The other airline that has a working method is Spirit Airlines. They charge more for carry-on bags than they do for checked bags. That means people won’t try carrying on their bags to save money, and the boarding process goes more smoothly. But then you’re stuck flying on Spirit, which is only slightly more glamorous than being flung into the air in a cardboard box from a trebuchet. On Spirit, they won’t give you water unless you pay for it and the tray tables aren’t even big enough to hold a Starbucks cup, provided you found that elusive Starbucks in the first place.

These aren’t the only methods out there, however, and perhaps one day, some airline genius will do humanity a favor and solve our boarding woes once and for all. And remember, it makes zero sense to fling off your seatbelt and stand in the aisle for 15 minutes while waiting to deplane, but everyone does it anyway.


This Military-Tested Diet Is Designed To Prevent Jet Lag (Travel)

When the Wright Brothers invented the airplane, they accidentally invented a new ailment, too: jet lag. Flying across multiple time zones can leave people sleepy during the day, wide-awake at night, and unable to concentrate ever, really. Luckily, there’s a military-approved solution, developed in the 1980s and still in use today: the Argonne diet.

WHY THE MILITARY LOVES IT?

The Argonne diet was created by Charles Ehret, a scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, back in the 1980s. So although it was initially pitched as a lifehack for vacationers, detailed in Ehret’s book “Overcoming Jet Lag,” it started in a government context, and it’s since been formally tested by the military.

Soldiers do really need to minimize their jet lag — they’re often deployed many time zones away and have to land ready for combat. So in 2002, the researchers ran a controlled study of the Argonne diet with 186 soldiers. Those who didn’t follow the diet were between 7.5 and 16.2 times more likely to experience jet lag symptoms than those who did. The study was small, but the differences are still striking. It’s no wonder the Argonne diet has been used by the Army, the Navy, and the CIA.

The diet hinges on alternating feasting and fasting for the four days leading up to your flight. It also hinges on breakfast, which is surprisingly important to your internal clock — it tells your stomach the day has officially started.

Before you even start your diet, figure out when it’s breakfast o’clock at your destination. That’s when each of the diet’s “days” will start and end. For example, let’s say you’re flying from Berlin to Seattle. Since 9 a.m. in Seattle is 6 p.m. in Berlin, each 24-hour “day” of the diet would run from 6 p.m. to 6 p.m., Berlin time.

(You’d still eat at normal Berlin mealtimes, though — each “day” of the diet would start with dinner, and end with lunch.)

Then, eat like this:

Day 1: Feast! This means high-protein meals like bacon and eggs for breakfast and lunch to keep your motor revved, and a high-carb, low-protein meal like pasta with red sauce for dinner to make you a little drowsy. You should only consume caffeine between 3 and 5 p.m. in your home time zone.

Day 2: Fast! This means eating only light foods — broths, salads, toast, et cetera — for every meal. Again, you should only consume caffeine between 3 and 5 p.m. in your home time zone.

Day 3: Feast a second time!

Day 4: Fast a second time! This is the day of your flight, so you’ll fast at least partially on the plane. When the clock strikes breakfast time in your destination — so at 9 a.m., Seattle time, to stick with the Berlin to Seattle example — eat a high-protein breakfast. Then stretch, surround yourself with as much natural (or unnatural) light as possible, and above all, stay awake! When you land, you should be feeling fresh as a daisy (that just took a transatlantic flight).

If you’re traveling for pleasure instead of a life-or-death work trip, though, you can try a modified version of the Argonne diet It’s basically just Day 4, but with a true, albeit shortened, fast. You can’t eat or drink anything but water for 15 or so hours. It hasn’t been as rigorously tested as the Argonne diet, but anecdotally, it checks out.