vid Whitley wakes bolt upright at 4am and realises that it’s not so bad after all

One of the oddities of jetlag is that after a long haul flight you’ll often find yourself waking up at a ludicrous time for a few days. Somewhere between four and five in the morning is about usual and, yes, this can be really annoying. 

But instead of lying there in bed, wide awake, hungry and really annoyed, you can look at the phenomenon as an opportunity. It’s not often you get to be wide awake and sober when everyone else is asleep, and there are few good options for using those rare hours.

1. Do some reading – preferably guide books
If the book has sat in your bag, briefly skimmed over before departure, now is the time to have a proper plough through it – learn about the customs and the history of the place you’re in, find some things that you didn’t know about that you may fancy doing over the next couple of days, start formulating a more coherent plan.

2. Have a good nose through the tourist board’s website
For similar reasons that you should use the time to go through the guide book – the tourist board site might have some cool new stuff that isn’t in the book.

3. Go on a Wikipedia safari
Start on Wikipedia page, and keep clicking through to different topics. It’s amazing what sort of stuff you can learn...

4. Go for a run
There never seems to be time to do exercise while you’re travelling – now’s the time to go and get some.

5. Go for a walk
However, if you do go for a run, you’re probably going to miss out on the sight-seeing due to puffing and panting too much. But the dead hours of night are often the best time to aimlessly meander around city streets, with no crowds to jostle through, and a completely different array of sights on show. The streetlights illuminate shuttered shop windows, the few people who are out at this time all must have a reason for being so and everything looks very different. It’s a fascinating way to see a city. It’s worth taking the camera too – you’ll get some really unusual perspectives for photos.

6. Watch the sun rise
Of course, this can be added as part of the walk, but even if not, it’s worth doing. If you can position yourself in a nice park with a good view just before dawn, sitting down and watching the sun come up can be pretty magical. And you may as well do it now than when you’re not having to force yourself to get up.

7. Schedule an early tour
Be warned: this may backfire massively. But you know those tours that require a really early start? Like five or six o’clock in the morning? Why not do them when you’re waking up at four in the morning anyway? By the time you get back, you’ll be knackered, of course, but that surely doesn’t matter all that much...