How to make jet-lag a thing of the past

Today we have another guest post! Skeeter is a US based travel blogger at Happy-Travelers.net. She’s done some long haul flights recently so is the perfect person to be giving tips on how to avoid jet lag. Over to Skeeter…

how to avoid jet lag

Sometimes when I travel, it feels like I’m time traveling.

“What do you mean I’m going to arrive before I depart? You mean I get to live today twice?!”

All that, and I don’t even have a Delorean.

All that time traveling can have an impact on your body and make for some crazy jet-lag. The kind where you’re sleeping all day, and waking up at 11pm unsure of what day it is. Not only that, but jet-lag can also come with some other not so pleasant side effects. That can make it hard to go back to work or function like a regular human being or simply enjoy the trip that you’ve been dreaming of for ages.

Here are a few strategies that I’ve picked up over a few long haul trips around the world.

1. Hydration Station!

Drinking plenty of water is one of the tips I give for everything. “Want to lose weight? Drink water! Have a headache? Drink water!” Water is magic and can make all the difference in your life. But, seriously it’s so crucial to feeling good when you travel. If you’re properly hydrated, then your body is going to function better, which means better sleep.

2. Develop good sleep habits before your trip

If you have bad sleep habits now, you’re not going to magically be able to develop good ones during a 36 hour journey to Rome. Start by going to bed at the same time every night and getting up the same time every day. Getting your body used to having the same amount of sleep every night will be important for when you demand it to sleep when it’s not used to it. Which brings me to my next point…

3. Sleep when it is night at your destination

how to avoid jet lag

If you’re traveling a long way, chances are that at some point during your journey, it will be night at your destination. Sleep then. Even if it’s 3 in the afternoon where you are, make a big effort to sleep when it’s night in your destination. If you arrive at your destination during the day and you’re exhausted…fight through it. Stay up during the day until it’s reasonably close to night.

Do not, I repeat DO NOT take a nap on your first day.

I get it. You’ve just come a long way and suffered through one to many sassy TSA agents and schlepped your bags on buses and trains and shuttles and you finally made it. Is it too much to ask to take a tiny nap right now? Yes! Your body doesn’t think you’re taking a quick afternoon nap. Your body thinks it’s 2 am at home and that you’re overdue for bed. So when your head hits the pillow you’re going to pass out for a while, waking up at 10pm and jet-lag will have its grip on you.

So, how does one make themselves fall asleep on an uncomfortable coach seat in the middle of the day?

I’m glad you asked.

4. Don’t leave home without your sleep kit

how to avoid jet lag

My sleep kit has grown over the years as I’ve found new luxuries in airplane sleep. The 6 things I always take with me are:

Something warm and cozy: Even if you’re going to somewhere tropical and hot, the plane is probably going to be cold. Being comfortable is key to sleeping. And if the plane is hot and muggy, your comfortable sweater can double as a neck cushion or pillow.

Eye mask: Yes, you may feel like you look silly. Wear it anyways. It helps block out light and simulate a dark night = perfect for sleeping

Ear plugs: Sleeping in silence is the only way to do it. Block out engine noise, crying babies and the noisy guy next to you.

ZzzQuil: I like ZzzQuil because it’s not habit forming and makes me sleep well. I would recommend trying it before you fly, just to make sure it works well for you. I don’t have trouble sleeping at home, so I don’t use heavier duty sleep medications. Some of those can cause you to go “sleep driving” and other crazy stuff, so I steer clear of that. But this works great for me. I take it about 45 minutes before I want to fall asleep, slide on my mask, put in my earplugs and off I go.

Toothbrush: Recreating your bedtime ritual will help you get to sleep. So, have your toothbrush and toothpaste handy in your bag.

Water activated face wipes: For the same reason you’ll want some toothpaste, washing your face will help you feel better, wiping away all the travel grime from the day can help you relax before it’s time for dream land.

5. Don’t drink alcohol on the flight

I hate to be the buzz kill, especially when complimentary wine is involved. But alcohol causes a lot of people to not sleep well, and it dehydrates you. Too much of a good thing will cause you to have a headache and not have the endurance you need to make it through the next day.

6. Kill the screens

About an hour or so before you want to fall asleep, turn off the in-flight movies, and your laptop, and anything with a bright screen. Keeping your eyes peeled to the screen will make it hard for you to wind down and hard for you to get your body ready for sleep.

When I started researching for this article, I came across a stat that said:

“Recovering from jet-lag depends on the number of time zones crossed while traveling. In general, the body will adjust to the new time zone at the rate of one or two time zones per day. For example, if you crossed six time zones, the body will typically adjust to this time change in three to five days

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have 3-5 days to adjust. I have to say, that using these tips that I’ve provided works so well. The first day, I might be a bit more tired than usual. But by day two I am firing at 100%.

I got back from Japan a few weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon. The next morning I was up at 6 am and at work by 9. A few of my colleagues that had done that trip before were shocked that I was even coherent, let alone up and functioning. I’m not super human, although if I was, I would definitely choose teleportation as my super power.

I hope these tips help you on your next journey and don’t forget to travel happy!

. . .

Skeeter from Happy-Travelers.net started blogging back in 2009 when she decided to sell everything she owned to backpack New Zealand with her husband. After nearly a year of traveling and blogging, it became her passion and she’s been doing it ever since. She loves experiencing new things, meeting new people, finding reasons to eat gelato every day, and helping others achieve their dreams of travel.

4 comments

  1. These are great tips and I can not second your tip about NOT napping when you arrive enough. Fight through the first day and go to bed a little earlier and by morning you’re on the new time zone. I stress this to everyone I know making their way to Europe from the US for the first time.
    With that said I really, really wish I could sleep a little bit on the plane. Even with all the sleep aids you mention I still toss and turn for hours. I think I am finally going to break down and try some ZzzzQuil on my next trip. Good idea to try it out at home first just to make sure it doesn’t turn me into a sleepy mess. 🙂

  2. Thanks so much Stacey! I hope ZzzQuil does the trick for you. I hate tossing around on the plane when I know I need to sleep. Good luck, and feel free to stop by and let me know how it works for you! : )

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