Humor / Travel / USA

Jet Lag and the Hula Lesson

Hula Lesson

It seems the only way to fly (cheaply) from Sydney, Australia to Honolulu, Hawaii is to fly through the night. Sigh. And this grueling, multi-time zone flight guarantees two things: a wicked case of jet lag, and arriving at your hotel at the absolute worst time.

When you arrive at 6:45 in the morning, no hotel in the world wants to see you. Last night’s guests are still in bed, the maids haven’t even arrived for work yet, and no matter how much sweet-talking you try, the bottom line is that it’s too early to check in.

We had arranged an apartment rental, and unfortunately, the building didn’t open it’s doors until 8 o’clock. So we did what any good Americans who’d been out of the country circling the globe for 6 months would do – went to 7-Eleven for a chili dog and Coke Zero breakfast! Nitrates and artificial sweeteners have never tasted so marvelous, and it was only sheer willpower that stopped us from getting a Dove Bar to top it all off.

At 8 o’clock sharp we wandered over to the apartment complex and discovered that the cleaners wouldn’t be finished until 1pm. Sigh again. What now? We could barely hold our heads up, and there was nowhere to wait. So we decided to use the tried-and-true traveler’s strategy – “Think Big and Blend In.”


Years ago we discovered that the key is to find a big, name-brand hotel with a nice lobby, join the throngs of tourists streaming in, and find a comfy place to sit for a few hours. We scoped the streetscape for recognizable names, and aahhh, there it was … the Sheraton; a veritable cornucopia of quiet corners with cozy chairs.

Luck was smiling on us and we found a couple of overstuffed armchairs, looking out over an emerald green lawn, Waikiki Beach, and the gorgeous, blue Pacific. The view was fabulous, but little did we know it came complete with entertainment.


Out on the grass a hula lesson was in progress. A beautiful young woman in an enticing sarong was trying to teach a group of stiff, awkward tourists the basic steps. She was a study in grace and poise, her long, dark hair blowing in the tropical breeze. While her hands told the story, the mesmerizing sway of her hips ensured that not only all the students, but a couple of jet-lagged gypsy interlopers paid close attention.

Hula Skirt

Needless to say, jet lag eventually descended and we took turns drifting off for a few minutes, but when our eyes opened, the view never changed and we couldn’t hope to find a more pleasant way to pass the time.

Terri & James

Last updated January 29, 2018

Golden Hula

Photo Credit:
1. Ron Ardis via Wikimedia Commons
4. Frank Kovalchek via Wikimedia Commons

17 thoughts on “Jet Lag and the Hula Lesson

    • Cindy, being able to travel the globe is wonderful, but until someone comes up with a real Startrek transporter, it means long flights and jet lag. But you’re right, there’s no doubt it’s worth it. ~James

    • Tracey, when I have jet lag, my body clock is so confused that it really can’t tell me if it’s time for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. And I must admit, after a while out of the country, a bit of junk food tastes nice – even if it means a dog for breakfast. 🙂 ~James

  1. Too funny….! I know from a cost point of view it is not great but usually what we do in these circmstances is book the Air B and B for the day before, and explain our arrival time will be in the early a.m. That way when you arrive, the place is ready for you and you can crash into a bed uon arrival. Little bit more expensive but way worth it when you are super jet lagged.


    • Peta, I’m with you on a bit more money for the comfort. For many reasons, which we can all relate to, these long-haul flights have gotten to be almost unbearable, and we’ve changed our strategy. If at all possible (and it isn’t always), we break the trip up into smaller hops, and we get a hotel for at least one night; even if it means just an airport hotel. Just getting off the plane, a good sleep, shower and change of clothes makes so much difference. I’ll leave the 14 hour flights to the 20 year-olds. ~James

  2. I’ve been traveling like this for a while; leave the office on time, go to the airport, take the midnight flight, and arrive at the destination in the morning — when last night’s guests are still in bed and the maids haven’t arrived for work yet. Fortunately some hotels did allow us to check in early, or at least store our luggage so we could explore the city — provided at least we had some sleep up in the air. Enjoy Hawaii, James & Terri!

    • Bama, as you know, these overnight flights can be considerably cheaper than traveling at prime time, but these early morning arrivals are tough. But we’ve found that early check-in is the exception, and most hotels won’t even consider it. So like you, we drop off the bags, load up on caffeine, and explore. The key for us is to keep moving: walking tours, museums, etc, as opposed to stationary activities. If I get seated for any length of time, the body clock takes over and it’s lights out. ~James

  3. Aloha James and Terri, I will remember your gypsy interloper strategy next time I am in that jet worn and sleep-deprived state. I do agree also that the best way to pass the time is a long walk, and avoidance of museums or anything else that requires mental concentration. Enjoy the islands!

    • Joe, I’m sure that everyone has a jet lag solution that works best for them, but for me, I use the keep active strategy. After arrival, a shower and a couple of hours sleep (I set the alarm so I don’t sleep too long), I get out in the sunshine, and keep moving as long as I can. This helps to reset the body clock and ensures that when I finally get back to the hotel, I’m so exhausted that I virtually go into a coma, and have a much better chance of sleeping through the night. ~James

  4. Aloha! This post had me in stitches! Similar story — we arrived at a hotel in Goa at 6:00 a.m. and the hotel staff smiled meekly as they handed us glasses of fruit juice as if to say … Good luck, idiots! You’re not getting in your room until 2:00! We did the same thing — found a couple of loungers and did our best to kill the time. And we love 7-11! Familiar enough to feel at home but stocked with enough stuff from whatever region you’re in to seem a little bit exotic at the same time. Ah, the glamorous life of travelers! 🙂 Thanks for the laugh.

    • Kelly, it’s good to hear from a kindred spirit. We were in Dublin recently and tried a derivation of this strategy. We arrived a couple of hours before check-in time and the taciturn, unmoveable receptionist absolutely assured us there was not one, single room available (total BS and hard to believe). So we took the two chairs that were closest to the desk and did our best to look like a couple of exhausted waifs (this didn’t take much acting on our parts). In about 15 minutes, we were in! Ah, the glamorous life indeed! 🙂 ~James

      • Ha! Love it, James! Sometimes you gotta catch the BS and toss it back. P.S. In extreme cases, you can unpack your luggage in the lobby too, and take that tactic to the next level! Thankfully I’ve never had to resort to this. But I’ve seen it done! And it’s not pretty. 😉 Thanks for the laugh!

    • Laura, you go girl! As Alan Jackon and Jimmy Buffett said: “It’ 5 O’clock somewhere!” And besides, we can’t let a mechanical device dictate when we kick back and relax. As for the hula, the mind is willing but the body rebels. 😉 ~James

    • Hi Rachel, It was such an unexpected experience … especially when you’re jetlagged and just trying to stay awake! And the woman teaching the class was the epitome of elegance and grace – encouraging all ages and abilities. So glad that you stopped by. All the best, Terri

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