The jetsetting lifestyle isn’t always as glamorous as it’s always portrayed to be. Unless you’re fully prepped in celebrity ways, armed with oversized sunglasses and a mini toiletry kit for landing, you’re likely to end a long-haul flight looking and smelling like you’ve been dragged through a bush.
The bad news is, this feeling goes more than skin deep and it can last for days. No matter how exciting the destination you’ve just arrived in, no matter how many plans you’ve made to tour the sights; you may ultimately not have the energy to do so.
Even worse if you’re travelling for business, when you’re expected to be ‘on form’ upon arrival. At times like these, you may have trouble remembering your own name, let alone the key points of that important presentation.
Follow these handy tips to beat jet lag and you’ll soon be high-flying with the best of them.
Stay fit before you fly
It may be a boring one, but it’s important to remember. Because even though you’re tempted to stay out all night before your early-morning departure, saying goodbye to friends and basically tearing up the town before you leave, it really isn’t going to make that long journey any more pleasant.
So the night before you fly, make sure to get to bed early and get as much rest as you can. In the days leading up to your flight get plenty of Vitamin C in, too. After all, planes carry a lot of germs – and if you’re rundown before the flight, you’re more likely to get ill. (Having once arrived in Japan only to be sick and jetlagged for a full two weeks after landing, trust me on this…it pays to be at your healthiest before you get on that plane!)
Adjust your body clock
As someone wise somewhere once said, “Prevention is better than cure”. So in addition to staying fit in the week before you fly, take active steps to prevent jet lag from hitting you too hard.
Try going to bed half an hour earlier each night. Then, by the time you land in your destination, you’ll be that much closer to the rhythm of your new timezone and less likely to be revved up at 3 in the morning.
Set your watch
When you fly, your sense of timing goes out the window. You get onboard at 1am and they’re serving breakfast, you get to the airport and it’s 8am there so hey – breakfast time again! It’s a confusing thing and while it is fun in terms of mealtimes (since you get to eat whatever you want, whenever you want), it can also be a fast way to jet lag.
A quick solution for this is to get on your destination’s timezone as soon as you board. That way, you’ll know when you should be getting some shut-eye (rather than watching movies all night) and when you land, you won’t be as tempted to crash into bed straight away.
One of the main reasons why we feel so tired and lethargic after flying is because we simply don’t drink enough water. All that cabin pressure causes a lot of dehydration; that, combined with a new climate and the effort involved in getting through the airport and to your first guesthouse – on the back of a 30+ hour journey – is enough to wear you out for days.
That’s why it’s so important to drink plenty of water in the week leading up to your flight, and on the flight itself. While I’m at it – and you make not like this – skip the coffee and the alcohol offered by the nice flight attendant and opt for a juice or water instead. Because unfortunately alcohol and caffeine are jet lag’s best friends…and if you can avoid both for a day or two after you land it’ll make your recovery much, much quicker. (Then you can celebrate with a well-deserved drink!)
You’ve had a long journey. You’re exhausted. So why would you book yourself into a dorm room for your first week?! You know that dorm rooms are where good sleep goes to die. And while hostels are handy for meeting fellow travellers, no one will want to swap tips with a grumpy, jetlagged mess (that’s you, FYI).
My advice? Splash out a few extra dollars and book a hotel for your first night or two – or, if your budget’s too tight, at least take a private room in a hostel. Get some good sleep in when you first arrive and you can move down the ladder to bunk beds later. However you sleep then and whatever you snooze with, is up to you. 😉
Another way of treating your weary body could be to go for a massage the day after you land. Untangle those haggard limbs from whatever position the plane has tied them into and feel your tiredness melt away. If you can find a spa that has a sauna or steam room too, that’s a major bonus; then you can simply sweat out the jet lag. Yay.
Don’t forget to accessorise
Sometimes a couple of props can go a long way in combatting jet lag and the sleep deprivation that goes hand in hand with it. That’s why a sleeping mask and a pair of good earplugs should be part of everyone’s travel kit.
Packing these items does not make you any less of an adventurous traveller; rather, a more practical one. They help you get enough sleep in those first few nights when you need it most. And if jet lag has you waking up at 5am, at least the sleep mask will block out the light for a little longer; allowing you to turn over and get back to snoozy town.
It’s as simple as that. Try out the above tricks and you’ll be ready to hit the ground running, whenever and wherever you land. Happy travels!
This post is brought to you by The Sleep Advisor