How to Beat Jet Lag: 10 Tips from a Travel Expert

jet lag

How to Beat Jet Lag: 10 Tips from a Travel Expert

If you’ve ever flown halfway across the world, you know the feeling all too well: that groggy, sluggish sensation known as jet lag.

It’s a perpetual struggle, especially when you’re on a tour that’s only a week long. By the time you’ve adjusted your internal clock to the new time zones, it’s time to go home!

Luckily, there are ways to minimize the effects of jet lag and help your body transition to a new time zone. Here are 10 tips from a travel expert on how to beat jet lag.

plane - jet lag

Tip # 1: Get plenty of rest before your trip

Unfortunately, there’s really no way to cure jet lag.

When you’re crossing time zones, you’re going to feel a little groggy. That’s why we always recommend you get some solid sleep before you travel so that you’re not starting your tour on a sleep deficit.

Try to depart on an evening flight, and try to actually sleep on that flight. If you can arrive in the morning, that’s even better.

Tip #2: Do what you can to fall asleep on the flight

For whatever reason, it seems that it’s easier on your body when you’re flying East — so if you are making a decision to upgrade one leg of your flight to business or first class, we’d upgrade the leg that’s flying West.

Even with a lie-flat seat, you still might also need to take a sleep aid or sleeping pills to help yourself fall asleep on the plane. Long flights can have their own excitement — the movies! The food! But we suggest being sure you’re still saving at least 5 hours for sleep.

You might also consider sleeping with the help of sleep aids — but please always talk to your doctor before taking any sleep medications.

Beating jet lag and getting into the right circadian rhythm is a full-on effort. Do what you have to do to keep yourself in some version of your time zone, at least while you can, on the plane!

Tip #3: Drink lots of water

There are so many factors to jet lag, but the biggest one of all is hydration. Staying hydrated is key to feeling your best, and that’s especially true when you’re traveling.

From the flight to the tour itself, drink plenty of water throughout your trip, and avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can dehydrate you.

We also suggest bringing packets of electrolytes and rehydration salts, which can help you to add water back into your body after being on a plane for many hours.

Bring a sun hat and drink water, as much as you can, even if that means you need to make several bathroom breaks on your tour! Your body will thank you and the group will understand.

Tip #4: Get natural light

Having some natural light exposure will do wonders for your body, particularly after hours of being in airplane cabins!

When you land at your destination, spend some time soaking up the sun, whether at the pool, or just by standing outside for a few minutes.

Sun is a natural jet lag buster: it can help you stay awake, reset your body clock, and help you naturally adjust to a time difference.

Morning light in particular is so important after that first night. Try to find a few minutes to be bathed in that glorious light before you begin your day! But remember to stay hydrated.

Tip #5: Adjust your watch and phone to the new time zone

As soon as you board the plane, adjust your watch to the new time zone. This will help your body start to acclimate to the new time and make it easier to adjust once you land.

Of course, smartphones will do this on their own!

On that same note – be sure you’re setting an alarm clock for the morning after you arrive! Sleep aids can make you feel groggy – so be sure you set your alarm to help you be on time for breakfast!

time zone - jet lag

Tip #6: Wear comfortable clothes

I know it seems silly, but wearing clothes that your body can move and breathe in can really help you to stay present after crossing multiple time zones.

Moving your body is so important in beating jet lag, and being in comfy clothes will also help you to wind down faster in the early evening when it’s sleep time!

Tip #7: Avoid napping

I know! It may be tempting to take a nap after a long flight, but resist the urge if you can.

Napping during the day, especially during the first few days, will only make it harder to adjust to the new time zone and may leave you feeling more jet-lagged.

I always force myself to make it a few hours to nightfall when I’m in a new place. Even if that means I’m asleep by 7 pm. It’s much better than falling asleep at 3 pm and waking up wide awake at 2 am!

Tip #8: Eat light meals

Eating heavy meals can make you feel sluggish, so stick to lighter fare when you’re trying to beat jet lag. Eat them according to the local time – so don’t eat breakfast until it’s breakfast time (not at 4 am!).

Choose foods that are easy to digest, and avoid alcohol, which can further disrupt your sleep.

light meal - jet lag

Tip #9: Go to bed early

Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial when you’re trying to recover from jet lag. So even if you’re not tired, try to go to bed at a reasonable hour in the new time zone.

Since you’re in a new environment, you’ll want to do everything you can to make it comfortable.

That might mean that you use earplugs, a sleep mask, or melatonin supplements. Maybe you need white noise to drown out other sounds, in which case, you’ll want to download an app for that before you travel (the one I use is literally called “white noise app” and it’s free). All of these things will help you beat travel fatigue.

Tip #10: Get up when you get up

Once you’ve had a good night’s sleep, get up and start your day. The sooner you can get into a rhythm of a new time zone, the better you’ll feel.

Some of my favorite moments in travel are the ones that are just for me – waking up to the sunrise on the rooftop of my Moroccan riad, before the rest of the world has woken up, sipping a cup of hot tea.

There are times you’ll be up at 3 am no matter what you do. In these cases, don’t fight it.

Just wake up, do some soft movements or write in your journal, and wait for your body to catch up. We can’t always get a glorious 10 hours of sleep a night while traveling – there’s too much to see and do!

#11: Final Tip for Beating Jet Lag — Be Patient

There’s no real way to avoid jet lag, and it takes time for your body to change to a new time zone, so don’t expect to feel 100% right away.

Most people feel a little groggy in the first couple of days of international travel. That’s totally normal!

Give yourself the time to recover from jet lag, and honestly, do what you need to do to get that sleep in those first few days (no judgment!) so long as it doesn’t negatively impact your brain or body.

I have been known to take a Benadryl or a Tylenol PM to help myself fall into a deep sleep on the first few days of travel, and it really does help me to wake up rested and change my internal clock.

 

Following these tips can help you minimize the effects of jet lag and make the transition to a new time zone a little bit easier.

So next time you’re planning a long-distance trip and know you’ll be crossing time zones, keep these tips in mind to arrive feeling refreshed and ready to go.

What are your best tips on how to beat or avoid jet lag? Share with us in the comments below!

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