With only one or two weeks of vacation, every day counts to make the most of your trip. Jet lag and all its effects on our energy and mood can made us waste one of our precious exploring days. I have gathered in this post, 7 practical tips to reduce the effects of jet lag.
In the past 10 years I have traveled very frequently for both work and pleasure. Don't tell my boss but when I travel for work, I actually don't really mind the jet lag. It is actually a good excuse to come in a bit later, plus most colleagues are taking care of me 🙂 However when it comes to vacation, there is no way I am going to be sleeping or dragging my feet on my first day. I am not wasting any time.
So, how can we avoid Jet Lag?
Many articles will give you tips that are good in theory (well most of them) but not practical at all to implement. Here is what I found:
- simulate your new schedule before you leave - sure I will go to bed at 2PM…
- take melatonin - as if we were not taking enough drugs already...
- carry with you a special lamp which mimics 'natural light' - seriously???
- have a stopover - of course, let's waste more time and spend more money...
- or my personal favorite: upgrade to a flat bed seat!!! - why didn't I think of that???
No, let's get real. Below are 7 tips that will reduce the effects of jet lag and can actually be implemented:
1. Be reasonable on the plane
Because of anxiety or, like for me, because of the excitement from 10 hours of no responsibilities, people on plane tends to go overboard with everything. Moderation is key:
- Do not drink alcohol or just one glass
- Cut down on coffee
- Eat light - do not jump on everything they offer
- Do not spend the whole flight watching movies. I know the entertainment systems now offer many movies you have missed or have always wanted to see but give your brain a rest. Even if you can't sleep, spend some time resting with your eyes closed. Jessie on a Journey gives you tips and products to help you sleep on a plane.
Plus the first thing to do when on board is to change your watch to the time of your final destination.
You can also check out Joanna's tips to make a long haul flight more comfortable
2. Take in some day light
This is the most important tips of all.
Go outside and let your brain realise it is the day. Even if it is cloudy, the natural day light will be effective. And it you are lucky and it is sunny, spend a lit bit of time without sunglasses to really get the full impact.
Of course if you arrive at 11PM it might be difficult (unless you are lucky to be vacationning close to the poles and get the midnight sun). However this is still the first thing you should do in the morning.
3. Walk barefoot in grass or sand
This tip was given to me by a friend (the author of OneLove Livity, a website to connect with nature) and I have been implementing it with good results.
I know this is not the easiest to implement (if you are not at the beach) in our society where image is very important but for the sake of enjoying your vacation, forget about the other people and what they are thinking, remove your shoes and walk bare foot.
In Kyrgyzstan, I walked barefound around the hotel's garden and did not get that many strange looks...
And I agree, this is not practical if you are going to a snowy place, sorry.
4. Drink plenty of water
Well, this is something we should do all the time but it is especially critical when traveling:
- the plane environment is very dry
- even if you don't really feel it your environment's humidity conditions are changing
Your body needs fluid!
So jump on the water - but don't forget that in some country tap water is not drinkable and you will have to purchase a bottle of water.
5. Walk or Exercise
Once again it is a general advice but very important when traveling. It is especially beneficial is you do it the first morning and even more effective if this is your classic exercise routine.
While walking or exercising, you are clearly telling your body this is daytime and you will get the daylight we talked about in tip #2.
John Donnelly talks especially well of how he runs away from jet lag on the Wahington Post.
And if you do not exercise ever, simply walking will help.
6. No nap allowed
If you arrive in the morning, keep busy! Do not go to bed and do not nap.
Sometimes we decide to take a nap with the best intentions, like 'I will just recover a few hours sleep from the flight'. However what really happens is that the clock rings 2 hours later, you turn it off and keep sleeping.
Your brain has not processed the time change and it jut won't wake up. A better option is to avoid napping and going to bed early (8 or 9 PM). This way, even if you wake up early the next day because of the time difference, you have started shifting your body's time zone.
7. Take a hot bath or hot shower before bed time
If you are like me, you might prefer to shower in the morning.
However for the sake of reducing jet lag and insomnia, I recommend you enjoy a hot bath or a hot shower just before going to sleep. It will help your body relax and get ready to sleep (even though it is maybe 2PM for for it where you left).
Do you have your own original tip to avoid jet lag?
Please, share in the comments.