Travel is one of life’s most enjoyable pursuits. There’s one part of every trip however that often isn’t much fun – getting on that plane!
Don’t get me wrong, the actual flying part is amazing. I still find the fact that humans have conquered gravity and overcome the limitations of our feeble wingless bodies to take to the air to be truly mind boggling!
But that said, let’s be honest, flying – especially long-haul journeys – can be exhausting!
Firstly there’s all that queuing to check in, those pesky security checks, being squashed into tiny seats and screaming babies to deal with.
Then there’s jet lag! Oh, how I hate jet lag. You rock up at your dream destination only to be too tired and out of sync to enjoy anything for the first three days. Damn you jet lag!
I’ve always wondered how people who travel for work manage to function successfully. So I did a little research and well, it turns out that while jet lag is unavoidable, there are a few little strategies you can adopt to mitigate its impact and save your trip.
Read on below and I will let you in on these flight hacks…
1. Get your Pre-Flight Right
As with everything in life, preparation is the key to success. Getting one over on jet lag is no different. Making sure you are in tip top shape both mentally and physically before you board the plane is key.
If you step into the plane feeling even a little under the weather, then chances of you stepping off the plane in a terrible state is greatly increased.
So take extra special care of yourself in the days and weeks leading up to your flight. Eat healthily and make sure you get a good dose of vitamin C. Drink a lot of water to make sure that you are extra hydrated (more on this below).and avoid alcohol which tends to dehydrate the body.
A farewell party the night before your trip may seem like a good idea, but believe me it isn’t. Hangovers and plane travel don’t mix. Instead, say your goodbyes to your friends and family a few days before your scheduled departure date.
Most important of all, make sure you get enough quality sleep. Websites like SleepAdvisor.org explains the health benefits of a great night’s rest, and this cannot be overstated when you are travelling. Nothing can prepare you more in coping with jet lag than having a week of perfect sleeps under your belt before you even turn up at the check-in counter.
2. Get Synchronized
Jet lag occurs when a change in time zone collides with your personal body clock. It would be amazing if we could simply change our circadian rhythms just as we do so with our watches. But alas we can’t.
While there’s lots of helpful gadgets to help make plane travel smoother, there isn’t one to help us beat jet lag. We can however adopt a few little strategies to help us get better synchronized with the timezone of our intended destination before we even arrive. One way is to adjust your bedtime incrementally by say half an hour a day during the week preceding your departure. You will be amazed with the results of this simple step when you get to your intended destination.
Another strategy is to start your adjustment to the new timezone the second you step on the plane. Adjust your watch to display the time of your destination. Then just start the adjustment process by carefully adjusting your activities on the plane. If it is night time at your destination, skip all those in-flight entertainment, don an eye mask, draw the window shades and try to go to sleep even if it may be daylight outside the windows.
Or it could be the opposite. If its daytime at your destination, try your hardest to stay awake. Make use of those entertaining in-flight movies, arm yourself with a book, down a few cups of coffee and do whatever it takes to remain awake until you are aligned with the new timezone.
3. Skip the Free Booze and Keep Hydrated
This one isn’t going to be popular, but one of the best things you can do to make sure you arrive feeling as fresh as possible is to say no when the drink cart comes around. I know it goes against every instinct you have, but alcohol is a diuretic and it will dehydrate you. This is the exact thing you don’t want to happen when dealing with jet lag.
Dehydration is jet lag’s best friend and what few people realise is that the cabin atmosphere is extremely dry. Consequently, the mere act of sitting in a plane causes our body to lose a lot of moisture. One expert even drew the similarity between the lack of moisture in the cabin with the conditions in the Sahara desert.
So to counteract the effects of dehydration, drink as much water as your can instead of reaching out for those free booze, Keeping yourself hydrated will ensure you stand a better chance of beating jet lag more efficiently.
Well, there you have it, my travel buddies, three top tips to help you defeat jet lag and get the most out of your much deserved trip. Here’s wishing you a safe flight and happy travels!
This article is contributed by Sarah Cummings from The Sleep Advisor.