March 30, 2018
Ten Ways to Avoid Jet Lag while Globetrotting
Everyone wants to enjoy their vacation destination as soon as they arrive. Unfortunately, jet lag only gets worse as you spend more time in the air and cross more time zones. Everyone has their own tricks and tips for dealing with this. Here’s ten tricks I use to minimize jetlag.
While you should always drink plenty of water, it’s even more important when flying. Oxygen in airplanes is dryer than on the ground. The dryer air combined with the cabin pressure increases fatigue and can lead to headaches if your body isn’t hydrated properly. Try to drink a lot of water the day before your flight, during your flight, and the day after your flight. I always bring a bottle of water on the plane.
Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine
You should definitely be drinking free champagne if you’re flying in international First Class. Other than that, I usually avoid alcohol on flights because it dehydrates your body and hits you harder at higher altitudes. The goal is to minimize the negative effects on your body in order to arrive at your destination in the best shape possible.
You should avoid caffeine (coffee & tea) immediately before and during your flight because it can keep you awake longer or wake you up in the middle of your flight. The only exception is in-flight breakfast. I’ll drink coffee or tea when I’m arriving at my destination in the morning and the flight attendants are serving breakfast. This helps wake you up and adjust to the local time zone.
Adjust You Sleep Schedule Before Flying
Adjusting to your destination’s time zone before you even leave home is a great way to avoid jet lag when you land. For example, west coast time is three hours behind east coast time. You could start going to bed three hours earlier than usual, and waking up three hours earlier than usual, a few days before your flight. That would set your body’s sleep cycle to west coast time so you’ll have no adjustment period when you arrive in Las Vegas.
Take Connecting Flights
I used to obsess over finding direct flights, but nowadays I prefer connecting flights in many cases. A connecting flight is a great way to reduce the negative effects of long-haul flying and recharge yourself between flights.
For example, if you’re taking a 14-hour flight you’re stuck in a pressurized cabin with recirculated air for 14 hours. You’re breathing everyone’s germs, you’re in a cramped seat, there’s minimal blood flow through your body, and you’re eating salty and oily airplane food.
You get a break from that nightmare if you split it up into two 7 hour flights. You can breath fresh air on the ground, eat decent food at an airport restaurant, take a shower in a lounge, and relax a bit before continuing. Your total travel time increases but you feel much better when you arrive.
Move in the Airplane
Siting for hours is terrible for your circulation. Always get up and walk around at least every couple hours when you’re flying. That’s one of the reasons why I usually prefer aisle seats. Some heavy travelers even find creative way to exercise while flying. I don’t personally go that far though 🙂
Don’t Stress Yourself Before Flying
You want to make flying as easy and low-stress as possible. Your luggage should be fully packed the night before you fly, you should be checked-in with boarding pass ready 24 hours before your flight, you should be well-rested, and you should arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare. A Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check membership makes this process easier. I’ll usually arrive at the airport with enough time to relax in the lounge a bit before my flight.
Time Your Flights Right
I pretty much avoid red eye flights in Economy Class with a passion at this point. This is when you depart late at night and arrive early in the morning. These are particularly difficult if you can’t easily sleep on a plane. If I have to fly overnight I’ll make sure to book a Business Class flight with miles & points.
I have mixed feelings about sleeping pills. One the one hand they definitely help knock you out on overnight flights. I’ll usually bring over the counter sleeping pills from CVS or an airport store when I’m flying overnight. On the downside, if the dosage is too high you’ll wake up feeling groggy and it can take a frustratingly long time for the effects to wear off. Start with small dosages and work your way up till you find what works for you.
Go Outside ASAP
It’s important to get fresh air when you arrive. You’ve been cramped in a metal tube or a dirty airport for hours. Breathing fresh air outdoors will help wake you up and clear the new germs sitting I your sinuses and lungs. Roll down the window if you’re taking a taxi, leave your hotel room asap and walk around a bit etc.
Adjust to the Local Time Zone ASAP
Adjust your sleep and eating habits to the local time zone as soon as you arrive. For example, most flights to Europe get there early in the morning. Force yourself to stay awake as long as possible even though you may not have slept on the overnight flight. If you take a three-hour nap in the middle of the day you won’t be able to sleep that night.
I usually adapt to local time in about a day by forcing myself to stick to the local sleep schedule. It’s taken me 3-4 days to adapt when I’ve napped whenever I felt tired.