how to beat jet lag
Updated: Aug 24, 2021
If you've ever traveled to a different time zone, you've probably experienced jet lag. From feeling slightly nauseous to wanting to sleep in any remotely-comfortable location (i.e. park benches or, well, the ground), it's something that's not easy to shake while traveling to a new place.
The worst part about feeling this way is that it can keep you inside once you get to your destination. When you feel groggy and have a migraine, it's incredibly hard to leave the comfort of the fluffy, white duvet covers on your hotel bed and explore a new place.
However, no need to fear. Below, I've compiled a list of ticks and tricks to nip jet lag in the bud before it takes a toll your trip.
1. Get sleep the night before you travel!
It's super easy to get the travel-bug jitters the night before you fly. If you can, try to pack earlier that day so you have little to worry about before going to bed. I've spent many-a-nights rushing from room to room, frantically packing my suitcase and hastily scratching things off of my to-do list.
If you finish your travel prep early, you can spend more time before bed partaking in relaxing activities that can lull you into sleep, whether that's taking a shower, meditating, reading a good book or drinking a caffeine-free cup of tea before bed. The more prepared you are, the more time you have to settle into bed and ~hopefully~ fall asleep faster.
If you can manage to get seven to eight hours in before you travel, I can almost guarantee that you will have a much more pleasant traveling experience than running on little to no sleep.
2. Spend as much time outside as possible
This rule is especially important once you arrive in your destination. Being outside and spending time in the sunshine will adjust your circadian rhythm at whatever time of the day it is. So, instead of rushing through checking in at your hotel, drawing the blinds and hitting the hay, drop your bags off in your room and take a walk outside. For the best results, experts recommend being outside for at least 30 minutes, according to TravelStrong.net.
3. Drink plenty of water
Whenever you are traveling, hydration is key! Traveling takes a pretty large toll on your body, whether it's lugging bags through security and across terminals or sitting in a confined space for hours, with uncomfortable seats and little leg room!
Between running around the airport (and probably sweating, if you haven't worked out in a while) to sitting in the dry air of an airplane, sipping on water will keep your body rejuvenated and hydrated.
4. Pack a pillow (and other cozy items) for the plane
If you could make your travel experience more pleasant, why wouldn't you? Unfortunately in my case, it's very hard for me to fall asleep anywhere but a bed. I am a finicky sleeper and have only very rarely fallen asleep on planes.
However, when I have fallen asleep on planes, it was probably because I had the whole row of airplane seats to myself and I had a pillow and free blanket from the airline. The more I can make my airplane seat like my bed at home, the easier it is for me to fall asleep.
If you have extra room in your carry on, I'd highly recommend bringing a nice pillow and some other items that may help make the ride a bit more bearable for you.
Some items I'd recommend bringing—besides a blanket and pillow— include:
A decent pair of headphones (I would personally choose earbuds because I find them more comfortable to sleep with)
Eucalyptus oil or Vicks VapoRub—these items help relax me and clear up my sinuses (that typically get clogged on long plane rides)
A meditation app for your phone (i.e. Breathe)
Earplugs—if you don't like listening to music when you sleep, earplugs could be a good alternative to tune-out the screaming babies and side-conversations that occur between passengers
5. Adjust your eating schedule
Getting on the right eating schedule of wherever your destination would be a good way to "trick" yourself into adjusting to a new time zone. This will help prevent you from waking up from 2 a.m. from food cravings or waking up earlier than you have to in order to grab breakfast.
Also, if you can, try to make your first meals at your destination as healthy as possible. Greasy and fatty foods are known to make people more sluggish and lethargic, but eating superfoods packed with nutrients can help you gain the strength you need to bounce-back from jet lag.
6. If you can, avoid caffeine
If you are waking up at 5 a.m. for a 7 a.m. flight, if you are anything like me, you will be craving caffeine the minute your alarm goes off; whether that's black tea or a piping mug of coffee, the satisfaction is speedy, but is it worth it? Depending on where you are traveling, drinking a lot of caffeine can impact your sleeping schedule; from trying to catch a few more hours of sleep on the plane or trying to sleep in your destination that same night, caffeinated beverages can throw your sleeping schedule for a loop—especially if you are dealing with jet lag already.
Again, that's why tip No.3 is so important—often times, water can revitalize you in ways you wouldn't expect. I'm actually traveling on a plane while I am writing this post, and I can attest to this—the more water I drink, the more awake I feel. And unfortunately, that also means the more trips to the loo...no solution is perfect, I suppose!
Those are my favorite tips for beating jet lag. Did I miss anything major? Comment below and let me know how you effectively switch from different time zones! And, as always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog.