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Saturday, March 18, 2023

Avoiding the Worst Part of Long Distance Travel

Long distance travel can be a pain. Depending on which way you travel, you lose time getting to your destination, or getting home, it's tiring, you  have to pack more strategically than usual, you need different things if you're going to an international location, and the worst part, it can cause jet lag, so you miss a good chunk of your trip. 

How do not get jet lag? There are ways of doing it. Here's how I go somewhere with an 8 hour time difference and hit the ground running.

So, how do you keep from getting jet lag? Because there are ways of doing it. Here's how I go from a destination with an 8 hour time difference and immediately hit the ground running, stay for a week or more, then come home and go to work the next day:

Eat Healthfully

I try my best to eat healthy when I'm getting ready to travel, because heavy meals contribute to feeling sluggish and tired. It's important to eat lighter at least the day before, the day of, and the day after your long flight. It boosts the vitamins your body needs, improves hydration, and gives you good energy. I find that eating light and flying helps me sleep better as well. 

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 eating too many carbs and opt for chicken or fish, because you don't need extra carbs for sitting. Avoid excessively salty or sweet foods. You'll feel better while traveling.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

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 30,000 ft.

Skip the 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.

Tip: bring along a reusable water bottle and fill it before getting on the plane. Remember the ice, because warm water sucks. If your flight is extra long, bring a bottled water to refill it with. I say this, because the water on the plane is not something you want to drink, unless it comes from a brand new bottle or box of water, it probably came from the water tanks, which are notoriously hard to clean and harbor bacteria. It's why I also avoid getting ice in my drinks on board. You can then save money at your destination with your reusable water and toting it around with you during the day.

Get On Local Time

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. 

The sooner you can get on your new schedule, the better. If you can do so before you leave home, that's optimal, but if you have to work and can't really do that, then start on your plane ride. Immediately figure out what the local time is and do what you normally do at that time. 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. 

When you get to your destination, stay on schedule. If it's daytime, do some sightseeing. If it's nighttime, then go to bed. Simple! And don't forget to eat on time. Have problems getting on a new schedule? Try a time adjusting app!

all my important airplane things: water bottle, travel pillow, and large wrap

Have a Sleeping Plan

This sounds stupid, but after losing a day and a half on a trip, I have planned very hard to make sure that never happens again. Sleeping your entire flight or staying awake your entire flight will not be your friend. I promise. On our flight to France, we had a bit of a split trip. We left in the evening, ate dinner before we boarded the plane, then slept as much as possible, then touched down in Baltimore early in the morning. 

We had most of the day to sightsee, so we dropped our carry-on bags at a local UPS Store through Bounce, an app that finds you places that will store your bags for the day, and did a bunch of things until it was time to head back to the airport. We picked up our bags, got the train back to the airport, changed clothes, and checked in for our flight that took off in the evening. This part of our trip had two legs: Baltimore to Reykjavik, and Reykjavik to Paris. My plan for this part was to sleep the entire way to Reykjavik, then grab a light breakfast (we got coffee and a yogurt with fruit and granola) and maybe take a quick nap on the flight into Paris.

We arrived in Paris around 12 pm, which gave us time to get lunch, check into our rental, and get a bit of sightseeing, then get dinner and head to bed early to get a good night's sleep in an actual bed to start refreshed for the next day. I find that if you get about 5-6 hours of good sleep on the plane, then you have enough energy for that first day and sleep comes very easy that night, getting you on local time pretty easily.

Tip: Invest in a great travel pillow. I have never gotten good sleep with a crappy pillow. Having neck or back pain is not what I want to go into a trip with. Eric and I both have the FaceCradle. You can lean forward into it and it allows me to sleep like I would at home. Everyone is different though. If the FaceCradle isn't for you, maybe the Turtl, the twist memory foam, the evolution from Cabeau, or the Somniwrap from Travelon will work for you instead.

Use A 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 (gummies or the powder are easily transportable), 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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