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Before you go:
- When booking your flight try to arrive at your destination in the afternoon/evening, this will allow you to stay up until a decent bed time and get you started on a regular sleeping schedule in your new time zone. Arriving between 7 and 10 pm, gives you time to get your baggage, get to your hotel, unwind, and go right to bed.
- If you’re unable to secure a booking that will have you landing in the afternoon, go for a morning arrival, this way you can sleep on the plane and trick yourself into thinking you’ve slept a whole night.
- Invest in a good neck pillow. I mean, this is a travel staple and no-brainer, but if you want to be comfortable on a plane, get a neck pillow.
- Buy a light blocking eye mask.
- Pack whatever pajamas you actually wear on a day to day basis into your carry-on luggage, this will ensure that your sleep isn’t interrupted when you arrive at your hotel simply because you don’t feel comfortable. I have tried to forgo PJ’s altogether in hopes of packing less but it messes me up every time. Get over the light packing in this department and pack your most comfortable pajamas to get on a good sleep schedule when you arrive. You’re body, and future travel plans will be all the brighter.
On the Plane:
- First and foremost, and this is probably the best tip I can give you altogether: change all of your clocks (phone, watch, laptop, tablet etc..) to the current time at your destination. NEVER think about the time difference. You are now in a new time zone. Think of your new life in your new time zone. No counting backward to see what time it is at “home”, if it’s 4pm where your going, it’s 4pm to you now, I don’t even care if you’re still on the tarmac and it’s midnight. It’s 4pm damnit!
- Drink lots and lots of water! This is paramount to combatting jet lag, keep your body happy and hydrated.
- If you’re arriving in the afternoon, DO NOT DRINK ANY CAFFEINE! I know this is a hard one, especially for hardcore caffeine fiends, but seriously, being in the air with filtered oxygen and such messes with our bodies, a long with the added stress of time changes. It’s really just not worth the caffeine kick. If you stay caffeine free for the flight, and when you arrive, by the time you get to bed that night chances are you’ll fall asleep ASAP and awake the next morning feeling refreshed and Jet Lag free.
- Also if you’re arriving in the afternoon, DO NOT SLEEP ON THE PLANE! I know this is a weird one, people want to sleep on planes to make the time go by faster. But if you sleep on the plane your body will be completely confused when you arrive in the afternoon/evening and chances are it will be very difficult to get to sleep that night. Also, nowadays there are excellent entertainment systems on most international flights so watch a movie, or three. Put a bunch of games on your tablet and read some e-books. You’ll be fine. Don’t sleep!
- If you are arriving in the morning, avoid caffeine on the plane as well. But get a coffee or a coke once you’ve made it through customs.
- And, if you are arriving in the morning, sleep on the plane, trick your mind into thinking you’ve slept a whole night.
Once you’ve arrived at your destination:
- No matter what time of day it is, do not take a nap. Wait until about 9pm and go to sleep. You might be dead tired, but that’s what you want. If you’re dead tired, you’re far more likely to sleep through the night and avoid waking up at 3am wide awake.
- If you arrive in the morning, now’s the time for caffeine.
- Have a beer, or whatever alcoholic beverage you prefer about an hour or two before you plan on going to bed. This will give you a chance to relax and try the local brew! If you prefer not to drink alcohol, eat some turkey?
- Keep drinking as much water as you can.
- Stay active and busy! Don’t head straight to the hotel to “relax” you wont “relax” you’ll take a nap and all hope of not being jet lagged will be out the window. Stay active, take a long walk, try some new foods, don’t sit down for too long or go on a long drive. Stay on your feet, don’t let yourself snooze at all.
- After you’ve had your beer, take a warm bath or shower. This could also make for a nice travel experience. For example, if you’re in Japan you can head to the local Onsen or Hot Spring, relax in the many pools. If you’re in the Czech Republic sooth your body in a beer bath, and have some more beers, you’ll definitely sleep sound later. In Budapest check out the baths. In most places there is some kind of local way to relax in warm water, check it out. You’ll be very happy that you did. But if you can’t find anything, take a long hot bath or shower and drink another glass of water.
- Finally, block out all the lights and go to sleep. Don’t think about what time it is at home. Don’t browse the internet (the blue light from the screen can trick your mind into thinking it’s daylight). Just turn out the lights, put on your eye mask if needed, put on your comfiest pjs and go to sleep.
You’ll thank me in the morning.
Do you have any tips for avoiding let jag?
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