Your next adventure is right around the corner, and you’ve already taken the first step in preparing for how to avoid jet lag when traveling. You want to have a plan in place so that jet lag doesn’t drag you down as you venture from fabulous city to city. To help you prepare for the impending possibility of jet lag and its side effects, we have created a helpful guide. Learn how to avoid jet lag during your overseas travels, so you don’t waste any precious time enjoying yourself abroad and you can truly have the time of your life.
What is Jet Lag?
Jet lag is what happens when your body is trying to readjust to a new time zone. For example, if you leave Seattle to travel to Singapore, you are going to be crossing more than 8,000 miles. As for time zone difference, Singapore is 15 hours ahead of the time in Seattle. This means you are losing an entire day, which can really mess with your body’s sleep schedule. And let me tell you, it’s hard to have a good time when you are half asleep. This is the common denominator in jet lagged travelers, as they find it difficult to adjust to the new time zone, literally having lost a day or night.
For many travelers, this may be your first experience with such a time difference. Your travel plans likely allow for a week or two of adventures, so you’re limited to the amount of time you have for adjusting to the new time zone. As most international flights take multiple hours, you are very likely to be exhausted as soon as you step off the plane, simply from the trip itself. Your goal? Find a way to overcome the time zone and loss of days or nights, so that you can arrive at your destination ready to take on anything that comes your way. Rather than being groggy and exhausted as you take on sightseeing tours and walking excursions, you will be fresh as a daisy with these simple tips to avoid jet lag.
Reset Your Body Clock
The best way to overcome jet lag is by preparing in advance. How, you say? Reset your internal clock so that it can adjust to the timezone of your destination. We have our own sleeping and waking schedule that coordinates with our body. It takes time to change this, as you need to readjust gradually. Here’s how to do this effectively: One week before you leave for your world adventure, start shifting your sleeping and waking schedules to the timezone of your destination. Each night, go to sleep an hour earlier, until you are sleeping closer to same schedule as you will be when traveling. Do the same with your meal routines, as this will help you reset your internal clock. It might not be entirely possible to shift everything completely, but adjusting even slightly can help minimize jet lag when traveling.
Slow Down on the Caffeine and Alcohol
You might be one to drink multiple cups of coffee daily, or to imbibe in an alcohol beverage or two to relax. Avoid both of these substances when traveling to help your body find its natural relaxation point. While caffeine can certainly help you pack your bags, face the security lines at airports, and be alert, it also creates travel problems. You are already likely to be geared up simply by the fact that you are getting to go on your dream vacation. Skip the caffeine so you will be able to rest during your flight. As for alcohol this can cause the opposite effect of caffeine, making you overly tired at all the wrong times. Simply put, avoid both substances when traveling to combat jet lag’s effects. Instead of these beverages, drink plenty of water so that your body doesn’t feel dehydrated, which can lead to headaches, muscle cramps, and other undesirable effects.
Get Plenty of Rest
You are putting your body through some stress when traveling abroad. Along with the hectic pace of travel and high altitude of airplanes, come the need to give your body a break. So get plenty of rest before you go, by packing your luggage at least a day in advance so that it’s ready to go when you are. Also, rest when you are hanging out in airport lounges. Grab a travel pillow and blanket, a pair of earplugs and a sleep mask. Then, simply relax. Take naps and attempt to sleep on the plane. Consider asking for a cup of chamomile tea to aid in your relaxation and ease you into sleep. This way, even though your sleep may be spotty, you will have, at the very least, given your body a break from technology, movement and other energy zapping activities.
Live Like the Locals
You probably are well familiar with the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. Well, once you arrive at your destination, do as the locals do, in order to avoid jet lag when traveling. If it is their breakfast hour, when your feet touch foreign soil, go out for breakfast and start your day. If it’s night time, take to your hotel bedroom for a little relaxation. Make sure to bring and use an alarm clock, set to the local time so you don’t get completely off kilter by oversleeping. Also, if you feel like taking a nap when you first arrive, that’s completely normal. Just limit your nap to 30 minutes so that you don’t mess up your already irritated internal clock. You also want to avoid thinking about what time it is back home. Just leave it be and live like the locals on their time zone.
Go Out and Get Moving
If you arrive in style, but are feeling jet lagged, try your best to keep moving, unless you are getting in late at night. By moving in the sunshine, you give your internal clock a boost of energy. You are likely going to feel sluggish and out of sorts on your first day in a new country. Regardless of whether you have jet lag or not, this is normal. Don’t beat yourself up if the effects of jet lag are causing you to feel less than your usual self. Talk to those in your travel group to see if they are also experiencing jet lag. Support each other as you get into the swing of things on your trip.
Boost Your Immunity
Being jet lagged has the undesirable effect of making you more prone to illness. Given that you are traveling outside of your country and continent, you are going to be interacting with all sorts of people with all types of illnesses that are new to you. Protect yourself by boosting your immunity before you travel. This will help you avoid getting those travel sick blues on top of your jet lag. Ways to boost your immunity, include eating a diet primarily of mixed fresh fruits and vegetables, along with lean proteins and whole grains. Lots of foods with vitamins and minerals will help protect your health most effectively. Not able to improve your diet? Give your body a boost with a good quality multivitamin that includes an array of immunity-boosting goodness. Start taking the vitamins at least one month before your trip so you can start to feel the immunity protection.
Ask Your Travel Guide
When it comes to what to expect in terms of jet lag possibilities, every destination and trip is different. Find out exactly what times you will leave and arrive at your destination, as well as noting your itinerary for the day you land. This information will help you prepare in advance for when you will most likely be experiencing jet lag. Ask your travel expert what other travelers, on the same trip, have experienced in the way of jet lag. You will often hear of first-hand accounts and tips of what worked and what didn’t, depending on where you are traveling to. For example, if you are traveling to Sweden in January, when there is 24-hour darkness, the tip on staying out in the sunshine to set your internal clock simply will not work for you. By taking into consideration your travel plans and destinations, you will better be able to prepare in advance to avoid jet lag when traveling.