5 Tips for Beating Jet Lag
After months of planning and saving, time during international travel can easily be lost to the silent menace known as jet lag. Visiting a country with a significant time difference can mean that a good deal of time might be spent acclimating to a new schedule and routine, which can lead to many wasted hours and missed opportunities while abroad. With no time to spare, these rules will help minimize jet lag and help smooth the transition.
Know the Time Difference
This first step is the easiest, and it only takes some simple math or a quick Google search to complete. Almost any flight three hours in an eastern or western direction will land in a different time zone, and knowing the local time in your final destination will allow you to create a schedule beforehand that you can use to adjust your body before you’re even in the air.
Make Use of Pre-boarding Time
Airlines today require that you check-in at the airport with at least three hours to spare before your departure time, but while that time might seem like a complete waste, it certainly doesn’t have to be. After determining the local time of your destination, you can begin to acclimate to eating and sleeping at the proper times in the waiting area.
For example, if you’re flying out early in the morning, but it’s already afternoon in the country you are visiting, make sure to eat a meal even if you don’t feel like it. Your hunger will soon transition into a cycle that is more in line with what you’ll be forced to follow when you land.
Avoid Long Naps Mid-flight
While it may be tempting to recline your seat as soon as the seatbelt sign turns off, it may not be the best idea for international flights. You may have had to wake up early to make your trip, but chances are everyone is already wide awake in your destination country, which means you should be too. Read a book, watch a movie, strike a conversation with your seatmate, it doesn’t matter—just don’t let yourself fall back immediately into the schedule you are leaving behind you on the tarmac.
Hit the Ground Running—or Walking
With what is likely a lengthy flight behind you, you’re likely to feel like you could sleep for days. But just like when your flight began, it’s important not to let yourself crash when it ends too. Try some light exercise to boost your energy levels; go on a short walk after you drop your bags in the room; ask the porter about any nearby parks.
If it’s already after 7 p.m. local time, then feel free to relax, just be sure to set the alarm at a reasonable time. Remember, if you let yourself sleep in later on your first full day you’ll start a trend that will likely continue for the entire trip.
Can the Caffeine
It might seem like a quick and easy fix to just down an energy drink or a few cups of coffee if you start to feel a lag, but it’s usually not the best choice. For most people, a heavy dose of caffeine only leads to a crash that comes on sooner than it would have if left alone.
This rule is more of a play-it-by-ear sort, as everyone will have a different tolerance for caffeine, but just keep in mind that you want to function as normally as possible while abroad. This means if you wouldn’t survive on four cans of Monster while at home, you probably shouldn’t on vacation either.