How to Avoid (or at Least Diminish) Jet Lag

How to Avoid (or at Least Diminish) Jet Lag

Jet lag is the worst. At best, jet lag means a couple days of walking around in a fog and being tired at odd hours. But if you’re not careful it can last longer than your actual vacation did. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent the latter scenario. Or at least curb it somewhat.

Plan Accordingly

To the extent that you can, of course. Careful planning can really help you avoid jet lag. What I really mean here is if your flight lands in the morning, stay up all day. That way, you’re ready to pass out once bedtime rolls around. This’ll help you adjust to your new time zone. If you don’t have the option of arriving in the morning, it’s best to avoid sleeping for too much of the plane ride so that you can nod off once you arrive.

Avoid the Nap Trap

While under normal circumstances I fully endorse nap-taking, I absolutely insist that you eschew the urge to do so after a long plane ride. It’s a trap. I know that sounds obvious, but I’m always surprised by how many of my friends succumb to the post-trip nap and then have a horrible time getting back to their normal routines.

The absolute best thing you can do after jumping a time zone or four is stick to a normal schedule. For me, that means keeping busy. I often plan trips that require me to go back to work a day or two after my return. While this is by no means pleasant, it definitely helps me get back on track. Mostly because there’s no opportunity to nap while I’m at work.

On my recent trip to Uganda, the plane touched down at 4am. Instead of taking a nap, we got breakfast, then went to a rhino sanctuary, a waterfall, and finally, embarked on a lengthy game drive before going back to our hotel. While we were dead tired by the end of the day, this barrage of activity enabled us to acclimate to our new time zone much faster than if we’d taken it easy.

How to Avoid (or at Least Diminish) Jet Lag

Be Nice to Your Body

Traveling takes a real toll on your body. Plane air is nasty as hell, and everything you touch will expose you to rude germs. Flying is also incredibly dehydrating. On top of all this, switching time zones confuses your internal clock. So be nice to your body while you’re traveling and after you get home. Drink lots of water. Eat healthy, nourishing foods. Exercise (or at least be somewhat active). Regulate your sleep schedule. Honestly, these are all things that you should be doing anyway, but they’re especially important during and after travel if you want to ward off jet lag and illness (and who doesn’t, really?!). If you want to go the extra mile, load up on immunity boosting foods like garlic and citrus. Also anti-inflammatory foods like ginger and turmeric. I’m not saying you have to temporarily go raw vegan, but honestly, it might help.

How to Avoid (or at Least Diminish) Jet Lag

(Also, be kind to your skin. I know that doesn’t have anything to do with jet lag, but if your skin is anything like mine it’ll be pissed at you for getting on a plane. Keep it hydrated and happy. Use a sheet mask. You’ll thank me later.)

Avoid Vices

Specifically caffeine and alcohol. Ok fine, you don’t have to avoid them entirely. Just know that they’re not helping the situation and maybe practice moderation.

And that’s really it! While fact checking for this post, I did see other, more extreme suggestions. Things like preparing for a trip by eating meals when you would in the time zone you’re traveling to. But honestly that sounds like way too much work to me. And also a little silly. Diminishing jet lag is hard, but it’s not complicated. A little self-control goes a long way, and I find that these four practices help me quite a bit. Hopefully they help you, too!

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