But there are ways of minimizing the effects of jet lag so that you arrive at your destination (relatively!) refreshed, adjust quickly, and keep your energy levels where they need to be for a week or more of exploring an exciting new place. Below we’ve compiled a list of some of the best strategies we employ for avoiding jetlag when we travel.
• Think gradual: If your schedule can accommodate it, the week before you travel, slowly move your body towards the new time zone. That may mean going to bed a bit earlier or later and eating meals on a slightly different schedule.
• As soon as you’re on the plane, set your watch to your new time zone, and act accordingly. If it’s night-time, do your best to sleep. Comfortable clothes, an eye mask and earplugs can help. (Of course this is a bit of an acquired skill: we've written a whole other blog post on “How to Sleep on an Airplane”!)
• While you’re in transit, make sure you stay hydrated! Dehydration will give anyone a headache and fatigue, and it doesn’t help that airplanes are extremely dry environments. If you’ve forgotten to fill up a water bottle once you’re past security, don’t be afraid to ask the flight attendants to bring you extra drinks of water in between the routine drink cart stops.
• Avoid caffeine while flying. True, it will help keep you up until bedtime in your new timezone, but it also leads to more frequent wakes up once it's time to sleep. Alcohol is another one to avoid while in transit, as it easily leads to dehydration.
• The debate over whether melatonin helps or hinders jet lag is unresolved, but personally we find it helps to settle sleep rhythms. Take it a half-hour before you plan to go to bed for a less interrupted sleep. Other popular remedies include homeopathic treatments such as No-Jet-Lag, a popular product which has a reported 87% success rate.
• If it’s daytime when you arrive at your destination, don’t cocoon yourself in a hotel room: spend your daylight hours outside. The natural light will serve to remind your brain what time zone you are now in.
• When you wake up after your first night’s sleep at the destination, eat a good, protein rich breakfast and consider some light exercise to get your energy levels up for the day ahead.
Do you have any great tips that you use to minimize jet lag? We’d love to hear them! You can post your suggestions on our Facebook page: ToursByLocals Facebook Page.