Don’t let jet lag ruin your vacation experience

Travelling long distances across the globe can throw your body’s cycle and rhythm out of the window. As you fly in and out of different time zones, your body’s sleeping and eating patterns will start showing changes. Before your go full throttle on your vacation planning mode, make sure your read about of the one important travel phenomenon – the infamous ‘jet lag’.
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What is jet lag and what causes it?

As described by Mayo Clinic, jet lag is “a temporary sleep disorder that can affect anyone who quickly travels across multiple time zones.” When this happens, the body’s circadian rhythms (internal clock that signals you when it’s time for you to sleep or wake up) changes. Now, this body clock is synced as per your original time zone. But when you enter a new time zone, the body’s clock gets confused and starts showing symptoms like insomnia, daytime fatigue, difficulty in concentrating, digestion problems, mood changes, and a general feeling of discomfort.
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How to not let jet lag ruin your vacation experience?

Book a red-eye flight

A red-eye flight is an overnight flight that will make it easier for you to reset your internal body clock. This way, you can eat your dinner on time and catch up on some good night’s sleep, as opposed to a morning or an afternoon flight. Moreover, also make sure to move around inside the aircraft as much as you can, if and when you can. This will keep your muscles from getting stiff which can result from sitting in one position for a very long time.

Plan ahead and adjust your internal clock

At least 3 days before your flight departs, start incorporating new sleeping habits in your daily routine. This will not put your body in shock and will help you be prepared to adjust well to the new time zone. For the ones going eastwards, start your snooze an hour earlier than your regular timing, but if going westwards, hit the bed an hour later. If the time change is going to be drastic, you might want to start preparing a week before your departure.
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Stay hydrated

Make water your potion. Before, during, and after the flight, drink plenty of water and keep yourself hydrated. The air inside the flight cabin is pressurized and extremely dry which will leave your feeling dehydrated very quickly. So even if you do not feel thirsty, keep sipping on some water at regular intervals.

Cut down on coffee & alcohol

Tempted to grab a cup of coffee at the terminal while waiting to board? We say don’t! Try to avoid ingesting caffeine at least 12 hours before the flight. The coffee will cause your blood sugar levels to drop and rob you of your energy levels.

Soak in the sunshine:

Sunshine helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. If you are travelling eastwards, exposure to the morning sun can help adjust your sleep cycle, but if you are travelling westwards, you need to expose your body to adequate evening sun. A light exercise will also help you adjust to the new time zone faster.
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Jet lag is a very common phenomenon and is experienced by even seasoned travelers. But these tips will surely help you take corrective measures to help you overcome the jet lag while on your vacation. Trip on your mind already? Take a look at this online trip planner.

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55 thoughts

  1. This is critical. When I flew from Ottawa to Frankfurt, four years ago, I followed the lead of a Turkish family, who covered their faces with towels, during the first hour of the flight and again, in mid-flight. Somehow, that worked well for us all, and I was ready for the day, when we got into Frankfurt.

  2. Nice. I think we underestimate how much alcohol messes with our heads and bodies. I cut it out for two weeks and don’t miss it in the least. I can’t imagine how it can affect jet lag.

  3. Im afraid I wont be much able to adjust upfront hahah we have our friends wedding just two days before our plane leaves for a long 16h journey. But I will try to follow the rest of suggestions 😉

  4. These are some great tips, especially the one about alcohol and coffee. I made that mistake once on my journey from Europe to Australia and let me tell you, I did not sleep for 32 hours! I will make sure to try some of these next time I’m flying long-haul, thanks a lot!

  5. What a great post. This is a good read at a good time as I am currently suffering jet lag after crossing 9 time zones. I am on day three, which is probably the most difficult, waking at midnight and not being able to fall back to sleep is rough…especially when you have to work in a few hours. Your points are well taken, and depending on how many time zones you cross, can depend also on how long it takes to reset that clock. I have heard it is usually one day per time zone crossed, meaning an entire vacation can be affected.

  6. Great post. We always plan on getting to our destination during the day. As our flights from Australia are long. Like 20 hours or so we put our bags in our hotel and then go out sightseeing. This way we are on the time zone of the country.

  7. When I travel westwards from Germany to the USA the jetlag is minimal. It is much more developed when I fly back eastwards. Melatonin helps me a lot to minimize the effects of jetlag. 😉

  8. Excellent tips! I’ll remember moving around inside the aircraft. That was pretty interesting, I haven’t thought about it. Now, regarding the “new” habits before the flight, I would say it’s the most difficult advice to follow, especially if you already have a set of everyday routines (going to work, for example) that you need to do as part of the organization of your day, that not always depends on you. I have a friend who is a free-lance photographer, and he has to have lunch whenever it’s possible!

  9. As an avid traveler and someone who has a lot of experience this is a really important thing to remember! Too many times novice travelers forget the basic concept of time zones and end up too tired to enjoy the first couple days of their vacation! Really great post with some helpful tips 🙂

  10. We also had some problems with a Jetlag during our holiday in Sri Lanka last year! Not that it ruined our entire holiday, but the first days we needed to recuperate … So, these tips are welcome, thank you! 🙂 Fortunately, this year we only have to fly for two hours. 🙂
    Warm regards, Heidi

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