You’ve created your major travel bucket list, booked your flight, packed your bags and now you’re off on a major adventure. You fly half-way across the world, ready to take on the adventure, but your body unexpectedly shuts down, it ain’t having it. Oops, there’s this one little thing I failed to advise you on, jet lag!
Every frequent traveller has experienced this sleep phenomenon known as jet lag at some point in time. Jet lag is an actual sleep disorder which is a result of our body’s natural ‘biological clock’ being thrown out of wack when we travel to different time zones. When you travel to a city like London, which is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), but live in a city that is on Eastern Standard Time (EST) your body will take some time to adjust to the new change.
But, let’s face it, we’re not here for the down time and adjustment period. As travelers, we don’t want to wait two days to adjust when we only have five days to explore and discover a city. Time is of the essence, so how do we prevent jet lag from causing us a few days of precious vacation time? The truth is we can’t prevent it but we can minimize it.
Here are a few of my major tips & tricks to combatting and beating jet lag:
- Factor In Jet Lag: Many travelers ignore jet lag, but that is neither a wise or healthy decision. If you are driving or have an active itinerary, you need all of the rest and sleep you can get. When you are booking your trip, account a day for jet lag. Use that “free” day to do light activities, make a restaurant reservation, take a walk around the city, nothing too strenuous or overwhelming, then get some sleep. Planning light activities will ensure that you still feel like you’re making good use of the day, but you’re also not overdoing it.
- Booking Flights: Booking the right flight can drastically help you to cope with jet lag. My favourite flights when traveling are always late night flights that get me to my destination in the a.m./afternoon. I find it easier to sleep on the plane and arrive to my destination refreshed and adjust to my new time zone.
- Skip The Coffee & Alcohol, Drink Water: It’s a sin to skip the free wine, but it’s a necessity. Coffee and wine do more harm than good for your body when trying to combat jet lag. Caffeine can be counter-productive because it prevents you from getting the necessary sleep needed to battle jet lag. If you must, ensure that you put down the cups a few hours before bedtime to ensure you can get a little sleep. Opt for water during your flight; stay hydrated by drinking lots and lots of water!
- Sleep: Sleep is a major key. While it may be tempting to stay up the entire flight and watch in-flight entertainment it is paramount that you get some sleep. What I usually do is take naps after watching a movie. I also ensure that I get as much rest as I can before my flight in the event that the flight is filled with crying babies or extra loud and drunk travelers. You just never know what you’re going to encounter. So please, don’t party or get drunk the night before.
- Stay Awake: When you land in your new time zone, fight the urge to fall into your normal time zone routine. Do not take a nap at noon. Force yourself back to bed at 1 am. It will take you a much longer time if you do not immediately fall in line with the present time. Force your body to stay awake. Take a walk, explore the neighborhood. Sunlight and fresh air does wonders for jet lag.
There are so many other tips for dealing with jet lag but these are the ones that work best for me. I’ve also heard about eating light, setting watches and clocks to your upcoming time zone before your travel as well as popping sleeping pills (I’m not a major fan of this).
What are your major tips for dealing with jet lag?