Love to travel? Want to see the world? I can’t say enough about the benefits of travelling, but there can be side effects. A big one is jet lag. Whether it’s being tired, not being able to concentrate, feeling like you’re coming down with a cold, or just a massive lack of concentration, arriving at your destination with jet lag can really throw a wrench in your plans.
I’m very lucky to be able to say that I don’t seem to get jet lag anymore. There are tons of articles out there about how to conquer jet lag, so here are some of the less-than-scientific things that I do to help minimize that awful feeling.
This is a no brainer. Staying hydrated on an airplane is the first rule of flying, no matter how far you’re going. The funny part? This is a new one for me. I’m notoriously terrible at drinking water, and I’d often buy a bottle and only get a few sips into it. Since I’ve started forcing myself to drink up, I feel much better when I travel.
Get a Travel Pillow
Genius, I know. But seriously, I moved abroad (twice!) before owning one of these. I found that the trick is to get one that suits your head and neck…don’t just purchase the first one you see. The popular ones you find in the airports are often filled with little beads that won’t hold your head up for very long. The one I have? Memory foam. It’s tough enough to hold my head in place, and soft enough to bend and mould for comfort.
Grab the Aisle Seat
People are usually quite particular about this one. Some prefer the quick access of an aisle seat, others swear by the window with it’s semi-comfortable wall to sleep against. I’ve tried both, and I choose the aisle. Firstly, you’ve got your (properly selected) travel pillow to help you sleep. Secondly, most bigger airplanes have headrests that move up and down, and fold in at the sides. Find out if yours does and lock your head into place! Finally, when you’re not sleeping semi-soundly, get up and move around, pop down to the washrooms or duck in to the corridors. Whatever you can do to get the blood circulating in your legs will keep your body happy.
Try Reading a Book Over a Magazine
This may not work for everyone, but it’s worth a try. I love magazines and books equally, but I find I’m more stimulated by the gloss on the pages of a magazine. When I read a book on an airplane, I’m able to focus and get through quite a few chapters. Soon, I find that my eyes feel slightly strained from the small reading light above my head, and I get tired. Go on, try it.
Change your Watch at Every Stop
This is my number one. I really wonder how much of this jet lag business is in your head. The minute I land, weather on my first layover or at my destination, I immediately change my watch to reflect the local time. Even for a short stop before boarding another flight! If you’re transferring you’ll be constantly reminded to run faster to your next gate (bonus), but it will also help you behave accordingly. Suddenly hungry? Is it lunch time there? Go for it. If your final stop is in a similar time zone, it helps to think ahead as well. And once you land, stop talking about how it’s 4:00am where you’re from! This is the new present.
Oh, and bring warm socks for the airplane. It’s a great way to get comfortable on your journey without waving your travelling tootsies all over the cabin at meal time. Good luck!