This blog post was updated on May 5, 2020.
Applied for leave. Check. Scored cheap flights. Check. Excited about your trip abroad. Check. Dealing with your jet lag … wait … what? Depending how soon you get over your jet lag can determine whether you’re going to have a trip worth remembering, or one that’s truly forgettable. Just follow these simple tips on how to beat jet lag and you can be assured you won’t lose even one day of your precious holiday to fatigue.
Get Some Rest Before You Board Your Flight
Rest is important for the body at all times, but especially when traveling. While crossing numerous timezones your body may struggle to adjust, and this could make the effects of jet lag even worse. You might be one of those travelers who can’t contain their excitement before a trip, or maybe you’re a really last-minute packer who’s up all night before your long international flight ahead of you — whoever you are, it’s important that you plan accordingly so you can get some rest. If you do have trouble sleeping, resort to what works for you to relax — whether that’s reading a book, doing some knitting, or taking a nice long bath with scented candle — just go for it!
Adjust Your Sleeping and Eating Patterns Before You Leave
Shifting around the times you eat and sleep about a week or so before your date of departure can actually make a huge difference in helping you sync up better with your destination time, thus mitigating jet lag as well.If you’re hopping on an international flight that’s going to take you toward the west, make sure you push your bedtime back by about an hour. If you’re traveling east, make sure to go to bed an hour earlier than usual. You can also move your mealtimes so that your body has a total prep for the new timezone it’s going to be experiencing.
Sneak in a Layover on Your Flight Itinerary
Most travelers scouring the Web for cheap round trip flights for their international vacation will often opt for an itinerary without any layovers. While getting to your location as soon as possible to use up your time off is important, you should also consider booking a flight with a small layover. The benefit? Having a small stopover midway through your journey can help your body adjust a bit better when you arrive at your final destination and help you gradually take in all those timezones you’ll be crossing. Plus, you can also plan to make a mini adventure of your stopover; many popular stops will offer a few hours worth of enjoyable sightseeing options for those in transit.
Keep Drinking Water
It goes without saying that the time-tested travel tip of staying hydrated during your flight is still quite an important piece of advice. So why do you need to keep drinking water so often? The low humidity levels in a aircraft cabin can seriously dry up your nasal passageway, making them more likely to let through germs that could eat away at your immune system to make you tired or sick. According to the Aerospace Medical Association, you should make sure to drink at least 8 ounces of water for every hour of your flight to make sure you don’t leave room for jet lag to affect your body.
Go Easy on the Booze
One benefit that passengers on international flights usually take advantage of is the free alcoholic beverages that are available. However, if you really want to clear that jet lag hurdle, it’s something you’re going to have to control carefully. Alcohol can dehydrate you quite fast because you end up going to the toilet more frequently when drinking. If you still can’t say no to those free drinks, then at least balance out each of your alcoholic drinks with a big glass of some good ol’ H2O.
Make Sure You Move Around
For those of you aren’t fans of the aisle seat, you might still need to get around and walk. Why? It’s because the less oxygen that moves around your body, the more tired you’ll feel once you get off that long international flight. Plus, moving about can have another benefit: the prevention of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is the formation of dangerous blood clots in your veins. Just make sure to do some light stretching exercises while in your seat or walk around as much as possible. Not only will you reduce your chances of being affected by DVT, you’ll also have more oxygen flowing in your system, which in turn will alleviate the effects of jet lag.
You may also like: Travel Hacks for International Flights
Know When to Get Enough Sunlight
Exposure to sunlight plays an important role in how fast your body adapts to a new destination. Knowing when to expose yourself to sunlight, and when not to, can go a long way in reducing your fatigue at odd times of the day. Remember: if you’ve traveled toward a location in the west, then try avoiding too much exposure in the morning by wearing sunglasses and gradually let your eyes get more as the evening draws near. If you’re flying toward a city in the east, then get as much sunlight to hit your eyes during the morning and avoid too much in the evening. Following this rule can make you a savvy traveler who knows how to beat jet lag!
Monitor Your Sleep at Your Destination
If you’ve hopefully followed some of the steps we’ve mentioned above before and during your flight, you’ll hopefully be in a good position to monitor your sleep once you’ve stepped off that tiring long-haul flight. It’s very important to try and get as much normal sleep as you would on a regular day (and during regular times) as you would when you’re back home. While this may prove to be challenging, you can get a good start by following the recommendations of the World Health Organization, which say you should aim to get at least 4 hours of “anchor sleep” during your destination’s night time. This sleep will help you rest your internal clock and get you in sync with your new surroundings during the day time.
Got any other tips to overcome jet lag when on an international flight? Share them with us in the comments!