Jet lag may be one of the unavoidable hazards of long-haul travel, but that doesn’t mean it has to ruin the first few days of your vacation. With a little planning and preparation, there are plenty of things you can do to minimize the symptoms of jet lag, adjust to your new time zone more quickly, and begin enjoying your vacation sooner.
Before you leave
Experts say that it can be helpful to gradually begin adjusting your internal clock a few days before you travel. If you’re traveling west to east, for example, try going to bed and getting up an hour earlier than you normally would. On your travel day, ensure that you’re well rested and relaxed. Many people believe that deliberately depriving themselves of sleep before a long-haul flight will make it easier to sleep on the plane when in fact it usually has the opposite effect.
On the plane
On a long flight, there’s only so much you can control about your surroundings. However, do make sure that you control what you can in order to give yourself the best possible chance of sleeping on the plane and arriving at your destination better rested. Bring a sleep kit on the flight that includes earplugs, a sleep mask, a pillow, and a blanket. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can overstimulate your body and make it difficult to relax. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Switch off laptops, phones, and in-flight screens about an hour before you want to sleep so that the light they emit doesn’t interfere with your sleep rhythms. And most importantly, reset your watch to the time zone of your destination rather than constantly referencing what time it is back home.
When you arrive
One of the best things to do when you reach your destination is to go outside and take a walk. The fresh air and exercise are great for your body, especially after spending hours cooped up on an airplane, and the light exposure will help your body adjust to the new time zone. If necessary, take a short nap of no more than 30 minutes partway through the day