Jet lag can spoil the first few days of a vacation, and for some, it’s difficult to avoid. However, there are some simple steps you can take to mitigate it.
Here is what we do to avoid jet lag symptoms:
Tip #1: Book a Jet Lag Friendly Good Flight
If we know that we’ll be crossing several time zones, we always try to book a flight that arrives at the destination in the early evening. By landing early in the evening, we’re able to get to our hotel, have a quick shower, dinner, and then go to bed. We found this to be incredibly helpful to avoid jet lag symptoms.
While booking flights that land early in the evening are not always possible, we always try to avoid late-night departures as we found those flights are the toughest for jet lag. (Check this for more tips on booking a good flight).
Start Preparing Five Days Before Departure
Five days before departure, we start taking melatonin 5mg every night before bed. Our favorite one is the chewable quick resolve melatonin. You can easily find them at your local health store, or online. We found this works well for us. The key is to start taking it at least five days before departure. We continue taking it until we’re adjusted to the new time zone (usually 4-5 days after arriving at our destination).
Check-in Online as Soon as Possible
What does this have to do with avoiding jet lag you might ask? Well, the sooner we check-in, the better the seats we can get. A good seat on a plane is essential, as it allows us to have a nap on the flight.
Further, we discovered that it’s better to sleep at the beginning of the flight. By contrast, if we slept toward the end of the flight, we would find it difficult to go back to sleep again at the hotel.
Also, this is a great time to start packing for the trip. We always pack in the early afternoon, the day before, this way we are ready for our trip the next day.
Pro Tip: Before we pick a seat on a plane, we always check SeatGuru to be sure it is a good seat.
The Night Before Departure
We usually go to bed early and try to have a good night sleep the night before departure. We’ve found that a good nights sleep before a long flight helps us get over the jet lag much faster.
The Day of the Flight – Prepare Yourself to Avoid Jet Lag
We pick what to wear on the plane very strategically. To relax and sleep during the flight, we need to be comfortable. For that reason, we usually pick comfortable, warm clothes. Loose pants or jogging pants are a great idea. Comfortable shoes and socks are very, very important as well.
We will stop drinking any coffee at least 4 hours before the flight; this way, our caffeine level is nice and low for our flight.
We always have some flight essentials packed in a zip-top bag ready to go so we don’t forget anything:
- Wax earplugs: these are very natural and comfortable plugs, and they block noise quite well.
- Sleeping mask
- Travel toothbrush and toothpaste
- Some extra melatonin pills
- Aspirine or a mild pain killer (you never know when you might need it
We like to get to the airport early to avoid the stress, that way we have time to relax before our flight and calmly board.
Homeopathic Remedy: No Jet Lag – These Work!
A friend of ours introduced us to the “No jet lag” pills a while ago. These are a homeopathic remedy invented in Australia for a rugby team. We were quite skeptical of those, but we tried them on a recent trip to Asia, and believe it or not, we were able to avoid all the symptoms of jet lag altogether!
The key is to take one pill one hour before boarding and then chew on one tablet every two-hour flight (when awake). Sure, this product may be just a placebo, but we had great results using them, and now we always take them before traveling.
Once we get on the plane, the first thing we do is remove our shoes and wear comfortable, warm socks. Plane cabins can be very cold, so we always bring a sweater or a hoodie just in case. A good travel blanket can be helpful, as well.
We adjust our watch the destination time immediately. We read that this will allow our mind to be set to where we will be headed. I don’t know if it is true or not, but it doesn’t hurt to do it.
At mealtime, we try to avoid sugar and limit alcohol consumption. We try to pick a meal that is rich in carbs, like a pasta dish and lower in protein. Due to the dry and pressurized air in the cabin, one drink on the plane equal to two drinks on land. After the first meal, we try to have a nap right away. Ideally, I try to sleep for the first half of the flight. If we are not able to sleep right away, we take another melatonin, and this is usually very helpful.
A couple of hours before landing, approximately when they serve the second meal, we will have a cup of coffee. This way, we are awake when we arrive.
After landing – Key Things To Do to Avoid Jet Lag
After landing and getting to the hotel, the most challenging part is staying up until bedtime. Ideally, we try to stay up until 10:00 pm or 10:30 pm so that we can wake up refreshed and quickly adjust to the new time zone. This is rather easy to do if the plane lands early in the evening (6-7 pm).
By contrast, if the plane lands in the early afternoon, and your body is thinking it’s the middle of the night, you will want to nap. If you take a nap, chances are your body will be even more confused, magnifying the jet lag symptoms.
A nice shower and coffee help us a lot. And, while coffee is good, It’s never a good idea to have too much. Otherwise, we’ll have the opposite problem at night.
Getting out into the fresh air and sightseeing are usually very helpful, and we try and do it as much as possible. It also helps a lot to have meals at regular mealtime, even if you are not hungry.
If we can stick with the plan, we go to bed around 10:30 pm. We take melatonin before going to sleep and try to sleep all night. If we wake up in the middle of the night, we take a second dose of melatonin – as directed.
The Day After
The next morning, we try our best to wake up at the same time we would wake up in our natural time zone. Further, we try our best to get adjusted to the new time zone by having meals at our regular mealtime and go to bed at our usual bedtime.
We found that if we follow (most of) these simple tips, we’re able to avoid most (if not all) of the jet lag symptoms. And best of all, we’re fully adjusted in just a couple of days.
Did we miss anything? Let us know what you do to avoid the symptoms of jet lag by leaving a comment below.
-Rick and Andrea