How to Avoid Jet Lag & Enjoy Your Trip

Photo of beach from drone

Jet lag. That annoying feeling of drowsiness that you can’t seem to shake even though you’re so excited to start your adventure. It feels like you need to sleep for hours even though it’s the middle of the day.  No one wants to deal with jet lag when they travel.  So here are some tips to avoid jet lag and start enjoying your trip right away!

Preparing For Your Trip

I am rarely able to sleep on a plane, no matter how tired I am.  So making sure to get a good nights’ rest before my departure ensures that I will have a more enjoyable flight and feel better when I arrive at my destination.

Some people try to slowly adjust their sleep schedule a week in advance, by either going to bed an hour later or getting up an hour earlier.  However, I feel like this is not a reasonable solution for most people.  Instead, I find that I feel better if I maintain a consistent sleep schedule and get plenty of rest before my trip.

Also, when booking your flight, I would recommend you book a flight that coincides with your regular sleeping hours.  So for example, a flight that leaves between 6-10 p.m.  This way you can eat dinner and then try to sleep during the long flight over.  Then when you arrive, you will be ready to go out and explore as it will coincide with your regular schedule back home.

Another option I like to choose when booking my flight is a window seat.  It gives me something to lean against for sleeping, and it also means I won’t be disturbed by my seat partner whenever they need to get up to use the restroom.

sleep on plane play when you land

During the flight

Eat as little as possible.  I like to pack some nuts and apple slices for my flights.  Once I’m past security, I purchase a bottle of water or bring a refillable water bottle and fill it up before boarding my flight.  Research has shown that if you can avoid eating on the plane and instead start eating when you reach your destination, that this will help you avoid the effects of jet lag. So for example, you eat at your regular time before your flight, but then during the flight, skip the meals and instead eat some light, healthy snacks and drink plenty of water.

Upon Arrival

Then upon arriving at your destination, you will eat according to the local time zone (if you land in the morning: eat breakfast, afternoon: eat lunch). If you land in the evening, even if it is later than your usual dinner time, go ahead and eat dinner and then you can head to bed. Eating tells your body to set its clock to the current destination. Adjusting your internal clock is key to avoiding jet lag.

In addition to eating after you land, I recommend you drop your luggage off and immediately head out even if it is only for 1-2 hours (more if it’s an earlier arrival).  The best thing you can do to avoid jet lag is to adjust to the local time zone as quickly as possible.  I know that this seems hard, especially if you haven’t slept on the long flight over, but it pays off during your trip. Plus it is exciting being in a new place, and going out, even just for a short time, really sets the mood for the rest of your trip.

Cheesy Burger at Burgermaster

Sleep Aids

I pack ZzzQuil; it is a non-habit forming sleep aid that helps you fall asleep.  I have also used melatonin, and it works the same way.  So if you have a hard time switching off your brain and falling asleep, you may want to consider a mild sleep aid.

If you have any concerns about sleeping or flying and any medications you might need, please talk to your doctor ahead of time, they can also give you some tips for adjusting to the new location and avoiding jet lag. I tend to experience the phenomenon where I am utterly exhausted and yet wide awake.  It can be frustrating, but usually taking some melatonin or listening to some relaxing music helps me drift off to sleep.

And speaking of music, make sure you pack headphones.  These are useful on the plane too.  You can use them to help block out noise as well as listen to music or watch movies during the flight.

And then finally I would recommend you pack an eye mask.  I like the Alaska Bear eye mask. It is comfortable and adjustable and great for blocking out light and eliminating distractions.

items to bring to help avoid jet lag

Final Tips to Avoid Jet Lag

Make sure your first day isn’t packed too full since you will still be adjusting to the new time zone.  I like to pack it full enough to keep me busy from morning until dinner, with small breaks in between.  Then I won’t be so exhausted that I can’t enjoy the sights. I also won’t be tempted to come back and sleep at the hotel during the day.

When you are traveling, you have a limited amount of time to see the sights, and you certainly don’t want to spend your whole vacation trying to adjust your sleep schedule. So whatever you can do to avoid jet lag and sync to the local time zone the better!

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need any further advice.

Read Trip Planning 101 to get you on your way to that next adventure! Or if you’ve already decided where you want to go, make sure to check out How to Book Your Flight & Get the Best Deals.

Here’s to traveling while you’re awake!

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