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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Combating Jet Lag

It's happened to us all and jet lag can really ruin a trip, especially when you have limited time. My first trip to the UK, I was not prepared at all for the 8-hour time change and jet lag set in on day 3 and I slept for something like 17 hours. I missed half a day in Paris and had to skip a second day in Disneyland Paris, since we were only in town for 3 days. I vowed to never let that happen again, so I learned how to sleep and eat and recover from a long flight.

Adjust your schedule
The best thing you can do to not get jet lag is to get on your new schedule as quickly as possible. If you're going from work to plane to destination, like I usually do, this can be more tricky, but I like to figure out what the time in my destination is, and then sleep on the plane as soon as I can to adjust my internal clock. 

If your flight is on a different schedule than your destination, figure out the time difference and figure out what you'd be doing if you were already there. If it's time to sleep, then sleep, but if it's not, make yourself stay awake as much as possible. I take a quick nap, but occupy myself reading, watching a movie, playing a game or coming up with new post ideas (maybe you journal instead). If you are traveling with someone, break out a card game and make them play with you. In other words, keep your brain busy.

On this next trip to Edinburgh, we'll be flying from 6:30pm, which means it's technically the wee hours of the morning in the UK. We arrive at noon in London, so my plan is to get comfortable on the plane, take my allergy pill and possibly drink a packet of Dream Water right before dinner service, and then eat and close my eyes. I'll be bringing my own snacks and drinks, so I don't need to be awake for the drink cart. If I can sleep for at least 6 hours, that means I'll be awake early enough to be on a new day schedule and also get my breakfast on board. Not only does sleeping help you rest up for  your destination, but it also helps your body fight off germs

After we arrive in London Heathrow, we should be able to grab a quick lunch after customs, then we'll head to Luton Airport to get our flight to Edinburgh, which leaves at 7pm. (We originally had a flight from Heathrow to Edinburgh through British Airways, but the BA pilots are striking on some days and our flight was cancelled.) This means we will also be able to sit down to a light dinner before our flight, get to Edinburgh, meet up with everyone at our Airbnb and go to sleep, so we're ready to get bright and early the next day for a full day of sightseeing. 

Luckily, travel days make me tired, so getting to sleep in a real bed should make it easy for me to just conk right out. The point is, if I'm awake around 8 or 9am, land at noon, and go to sleep around 10 or 11pm, that will easily set me up for success for the rest of my trip. You may not get a lot of sleep before your first day of vacation, but not sleeping in is key to me, because it'll make sure you're exhausted early in the evening, making you head to bed early and resetting your body's schedule. 

Stay hydrated and eat light
Staying hydrated is always important, but make sure you drink as much water as possible on the day before, the day after, and during your flight. Being dehydrated saps your energy, and that can easily lead to jet lag or sickness, neither of which is good. If you get tired of water, add a flavor packet to your bottle of water or ask for tomato juice on your flight, which gives you extra veggies, plus the altitude changes the taste to your body, so if you don't think tomato juice sounds too yummy, you'll find it more tolerable at 30,000ft.

Avoid the water on flights, unless they give you a bottle that is sealed, since the water on planes all come from the same water tanks, which are notoriously hard to clean and are known to harbor bacteria in a good majority of them. This means, coffee, tea and ice are pretty suspect. If you see flight attendants pouring water from a water bottle into cups for passengers, assume that those have been filled up onboard. In fact, many resources suggest you shouldn't even wash your hands in the bathroom and should instead just use antibacterial wipes or hand sanitizer.

Another thing that can help you sleep well when you need to sleep is by eating light meals that are also healthy. I tend to try to eat veggie-packed meals up to a week before my trip, as well as lighter meats if I have any. I skip too many carbs and opt for chicken or fish. This is especially important on your travel day, plus those days on either side of it, because you don't need carbs for sitting. You'll want to eat meals that aren't too heavy, which rob you of good sleep, and give you extra vitamins as well. 

Skip alcohol
I know a lot of people like to get a drink on the plane or at the bar before their flight, but that's not always conducive to a good travel experience. It might be fine for short flights, but when you're traveling long distance, alcohol can dehydrate you and disrupt your sleep pattern. It robs you of good REM sleep, which you need in order to feel rested. I would suggest skipping alcohol for the same time period that you're drinking extra water and eating extra well.

Use an light sleep aid
If you know you need a bit of a push sleeping on the plane, or at your destination, using a sleep aid is nothing to be ashamed of. I use Dream Water (as I linked above), but you can also take melatonin or use lavender oil to invoke sleepiness. I have a great pillow spray, which you could spray very lightly on your travel pillow or a scarf, probably before you leave home, so the smell has a chance to dissipate a little bit before you board the plane, because if the smell is too strong, everyone around you will hate you, especially people like me who have allergies. It also comes in a roll-on bottle

Now you have the knowledge and tools to get your best sleep and get on your new schedule as quickly as possible, so don't worry about losing time when you get on your vacation. You just have to figure out where you're going! 

Have you ever had a terrible trip because of bad jet lag?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that could result in monetary compensation for me should you make a purchase through them. This also allows me to keep this blog running, so thanks in advance!

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