When Jules Verne wrote Around the World in Eighty Days in 1873, circumnavigating the globe in less than two and a half months was still a questionable proposition. But nearly a century and a half later, it is now feasible to traverse Earth in exactly 52 hours and 34 minutes – thanks to modern commercial aviation. Of course, the achievements of passenger air travel are not without their side effects, chief among them jet lag. Cross it with culture shock and you end up with another affliction that nobody in the 19th century could have predicted –what the jet set call place lag.
According to airline pilot Mark Vanhoenacker, who coined the term in his memoir Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot, place lag is “the imaginative drag that results from our jet-age displacements over every kind of distance; from the inability of our deep old sense of place to keep up with our aeroplanes.” Where jet lag leaves travellers wide-eyed at midnight because their circadian rhythm has yet to adjust, place lag is drawing the curtains open the next morning to suddenly realize you’re not in Kansas anymore. It’s saying merci to a cashier in Bangkok because your mind hasn’t caught up with your manners. Or waiting for your Uber on the wrong side of the road in London because it arrived on the right side in Toronto yesterday morning – or was it this morning?