Wrangling with the mind bending effects of jet lag, can leave you losing your first day of travel to a flight hangover. Although some handle it better than others, staving off the effects of a long flight across timezones is never a simple fix. If you’re headed off exploring or on your way home here’s how to keep the lag beast at bay.
Choose The Right Flight
Timing is everything, it’s time to whip out the ol’ clock and do the maths before you lock in a departure. Sure that 9pm flight may be cheaper, but pulling into Dubai at 2am is no good for your body clock. Sacrifice a dollar here or there for a little extra sanity upon arrival. This is even more important as you make your return journey, the jet lag is always worse on the way home.
Having your going away soiree the night before a 6am flight is asking for it. Instead make sure you adjust for your destination a little before. Set either your watch or your phone to your new time and eat, sleep and bathe as such. This will help you get in the swing of things before you land, and avoid having to battle through that 24 hour flight with eyes stretched open from exhaustion.
West Is Best
If you want to put yourself ahead of jet lag, heading west is better for your body’s rhythm. Jet-lag experts say, by travelling west you’re flying into a longer day as opposed to losing time as you head east. It’s easier to force yourself to stay awake (hello caffeine) than force yourself to sleep.
Fidgety flyer? Exercise will cure you of the restlessness. After you’ve checked the time in your first stop, exercise to tire yourself out according to local time. Before your flight if you need to sleep and right off the plane if your battling the pangs of jet lag, a little sweat will sort you out. In flight too, become one of those people that strolls at regular intervals. Perhaps not the type that does yoga mid flight, but you do you.
Light is our body’s way of understanding what time it is, so block it out. Often on flights they dim lights according to meal times not what’s best for your arrival. Eye masks, sunglasses and a rolled down window blind will help set your body to the right time in advance.
In flight meals in economy class are nothing to brag about, but with a little pre planning you can fuel your way through jet lag. Opt for proteins if you need to stay alert and carbs if you plan on nodding off during the flight. Unless you’re a nervous flyer, make sure to avoid alcohol and extra salty options. They’ll mess up your sleep patterns like nothing else, making shut eye a real pain. Make sure you eat as close to local time as you can too, breakfast at 7pm is doing you no favours at all.
Break Up Your Trip
Stopovers may be the bane of your travelling existence, but by breaking up your long haul into smaller portions you’re easing your body into the new timezone. You don’t even have to leave the airport, thanks to a bevy of travellers cruising through day in and day out Singapore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuala Lampur or Hong Kong, all make for an entertaining pit stop. Often these flights are cheaper too, so it’s a win win.
Ride It Out
If you’re not one to prepare, embrace the craziness that jet lag brings along with it. Take to the streets for late night eats, stay out til dawn with a new found energy or spend the evening and early chatting to other travellers in your hostel. It doesn’t have to be a total burden. When you can’t beat your body’s routine, let it take you to corners of the city your usually regimented self would never venture. Unless you’re coming home, in which case take a sleeping tablet and prepare for the worst.
Image source: Harper and Harley, Visual Therapy, Virgin Airlines, Expedia, Journey Era, The Every Girl.