Practical Advice From A Serial Traveler
If you follow me, you’ve most likely seen a focused pic of me “walking with purpose” through the airport or some far flung city like a maniac.
I am determined to make the jaunt through the airport appear effortless. No lying around the gate for me. The objective is REAL. I must make it through the throngs of people gathered around the gate in fear they might not get onboard. Or the coughing child whose not yet learned to cover their mouth. Or, the 98 pound woman putting her life on the line attempting to claim her luggage on the belt as it drags her halfway around the route. Then, the final challenge…..the Alpha Dogs in line 1. Territorial and fiercely Type A they wait……largely men who guard their spot in line and stare down anyone who dares to approach the first boarding group. I am usually well-caffeinated by this time and swagger into line all teeth showing.
Oh wait! Let’s take a “cleansing” yoga breath and start anew. Sounding a bit fierce there…..
Wheww. Apologies for the rant. I really want to talk about jet lag (or is it urban legend?)
General description: Jet lag, also known as desynchronosis & flight fatigue, is a temporary disorder that causes fatigue, insomnia, & other symptoms as a result of air travel across time zones. It is considered a circadian rhythm sleep disorder, which is a disruption of the internal body clock. Sound familiar?
So let’s chat (grab your coffee here):
For the past decade, I’ve been listening to travelers talk about the mystery of “jet lag”. The Good Doctor and I have been fortunate in that we don’t seem to suffer this malaise. I am still in hot pursuit of a method of handling it for our travel pals. The tips I am sharing has been gathered over 20+ years of traveling to foreign cities and multiple time zones. The Good Doctor & I travel a lot for work and sometimes the turn around is quick. If we were to be jet lagged, it would affect the trip and ruin the experience of visiting some exotic locations. So, today I want to provide some value by sharing how you might avoid jet lag on your next trip.
10 Sensible Tips to Beat Jet Lag:
- Prep before you leave: If you are traveling from the US to Europe try to keep your sleep time consistent. We are VERY lucky and sleep on the plane….so, ready to cause trouble the moment we land. I know this can be an expensive option but, if you read our blog regularly, there are some tips about how to “lie flat” using miles, etc. Take a peek. It’s truly worth it.
- No Caffeine: The day of the flight do not drink any coffee or caffeine. There is a long lasting effect in caffeine that will make it difficult to sleep when you finally need to. I am NEVER going to give up my coffee….but, I have heard this tip from countless others traveling.
- Stop Looking at “Home” Time: Once you’re done battling the hoards at the airport and get on your flight, set your watch to the time zone you are traveling to. Completely stop thinking about your current time zone. Don’t do the “what time is it at home” thing. Just set your watch to the destination time and tell your body and mind “this is what time it is.”
- Limit Alcohol: If you are going to have a drink on the plane, limit it to 1. Focus on drinking lots of water. You may want to buy additional bottles prior to boarding. I recall asking an attendant for my own bottle….you would have thought I was asking for the keys to the plane. When you are at a high altitude and you drink too much alcohol in the friendly skies, it tends to dehydrate the body. You may end up with a meaningful headache and destroy the quality of your sleep, which just adds to your jet lag.
- Don’t Sleep: When you are on the plane resist sleeping at the wrong time. Since you set your watch to the time zone you are traveling to you can now tell if it’s the right or wrong time. If it says 3pm in the time zone you are traveling to. Do not sleep. Gut through it. Work on your computer or, scroll through your Social Media. That weird blue light will keep you awake.
- Rest: The Good Doctor has rest/sleep time all calculated by the time we board (It normally falls into that time AFTER the Hot Fudge Sundae cart goes by – just saying). If you’ve not managed to get any sleep, now would be the time to shut your devices down (about an hour prior to landing) and start relaxing. Just like the previous tip, the artificial light from these devices will keep you awake. We want to shut down and give the body the best chance to get some rest. ( Hack: use noise canceling headphones to get rest and get rid of the galley clatter. We always get the flight attendants who are “catching up” and chat, without breathing the.entire.flight.)
- Hot/Cold Shower: Once you are on the ground, get checked in to your hotel (or, if you land and have a layover, there are now more spa/showers in foreign airports. I am a super freak about showering anywhere but my own shower but, I have succumbed a few times and loved it. Very, very clean…you just feel better and more refreshed) your first priority is to unpack clothes for the day/night and take a hot/cold shower (we like to have an “arrival” toast of Champagne). First, a nice hot shower is super relaxing, get the airport cooties off your body and then SHOCK your body with some freezing cold water. This is guaranteed to wake you up and get you ready for whatever is next on the agenda. I absolutely must brush my teeth first. I’m the wierdo onboard running up to the bathroom with my toothbrush…..if you were on the plane, thanks for smiling quietly……and, for tolerating my “Clorox Wipes” addiction……definitely a story for another time:)
- Eat: Whatever time of day/night it is, go have a meal that corresponds with that in the local time zone. If it’s breakfast, go have breakfast. Hydrate. I have 1-2 cocktails at this point as well because I feel like it helps to let my body and mind know that it’s not bedtime. This does not work for everyone and may make you sleepy. If you don’t drink don’t worry about this part. It’s personal preference.
- Get Outside: A walk is a great way to digest and check out the new surroundings. If it’s daylight, get a minimum of ten minutes in the sun. It just makes you feel better! If you are going to be in the sun longer…..apply sunscreen.
- Sweat: Get to the gym and work out for at least 30-45 minutes (yes, a slow, steady jaunt on the treadmill counts). If there is no gym, exercise outside or take a swim in the pool. Explore the surrounding neighborhood. There are so many spots in the world you would never know about if you don’t get out and find them.
Well, there you have it…..try these tips and let me know how they work for you.
Travel well and enjoy the trip!
Do you have any travel tricks we missed? Jot them down in the comments below….we love new ideas!