Jet lag… ugh! We’ve all been there, dealt with the annoying 4am waking and had that horrible ‘spaced out’ feeling after a long flight. Many people have claimed to beat jet lag before this piece and I surely won’t be the last but after a series of long flights recently, I felt it was time to share some secrets of my own. Let me preface this by saying that this is, by no means, a definitive list… This is merely what works for me and what works for me may just work for you too.
- No nap time
Maybe one of the biggest keys to beating jet lag is to get your sleeping patterns down straight away. You know what this means right? NO NAPS! Once you arrive in a destination you are committed to staying awake until at least 8pm local time. Napping throws your whole body clock out of whack and it is the quickest way to earn yourself a bout of jet lag. Sometimes this is easier if you can fly during the day, so at least when you arrive you can collapse into bed and be done with the whole affair. If this is not possible then you just have to soldier on!
- Shhhh, quiet time
Ear plugs. One of the most useful travel items around, they cost no more than 50c at your local supermarket and they will save you time and time again. Research has shown that the noise experienced during flights has a direct effect on the jet lag experienced by the traveller so by blocking some of the excess noise out you may just be saving yourself a day in bed on arrival. Anything will work, if you don’t like the idea of ear plugs when you’re flying, then use a good pair of noise cancelling headphones, you don’t even need any music on… Just block as much of the incessant droning aircraft noise as possible.
- Daggy clothes
The days of dressing up to travel are sadly long gone. This is no longer a glamorous affair as it once was – unless you are flying first class of course – these days flying is simply a means to an end. So ditch the heels ladies and pick up a pair of thongs (jandals/flip flops – whatever you call them where you’re from) and scuff away! My most comfortable and long-favoured travelling clothes are a pair of black cotton pants and a plain black piece of material that was probably referred to as a casual scarf in some past fashion trend which serves as a blanket, a scarf and a pillow on long flights. Be comfortable, that way you will sleep better and ultimately be much less irritable when disembarking.
- Nectar of the Gods
WATER! You can never get enough on long flights when your body is pumped full of dry air and those lovely hosties just never seem to have cups big enough! Flying at high altitudes in combination with the recirculated air you experience on planes is a known cause of dehydration, just ask all the lovely folks who charge for water like it’s gold at every airport! Sadly this is one expense I think we should all endure and don’t stop when you disembark either. I am in no way a health freak, but in these circumstances water is simply required to help your body recover.
- Eye masks
I know they sound ridiculous and they look even more absurd than that, but an eye mask will help you sleep on long flights. For a long time I only thought that rich women from the movies used them, but on a short connection through Kuala Lumpur I gave in, and it was one of the best things I could have done! I have always had trouble sleeping on planes; if it’s not the noise, it’s uncomfortable and if it’s not that than the person next to you always has their reading light on, but somehow with my 11MYR eye mask, this all fades away so I can at least get a couple of hours of sleep in. You may feel a little ridiculous wearing your eye mask but it’s dark and besides, how silly can you look when every other person is carrying around one of those silly neck cushions!
- Upgrade for comfort
As far as I am concerned the traveller myths of free upgrades to business and first class are exactly that… Myth. If you know how to get them then power to you (and the rest of us would appreciate some pointers on how to go about it) but the vast majority of us are usually stuck in economy with every other person on the planet. If you have a bit of extra cash to spare or frequent flyer miles to burn, then I would suggest that you look at the option of upgrading your seats for a bit of extra comfort. Even Premium Economy can make all the difference, especially on the long haul flights! But if not, then simply consider asking your friendly check-in person if there are any exit rows available. Not all flights give these away these days, but this is well worth a try. The few extra inches of leg room will change your life!
With the world becoming more affordable and more accessible, flying and jet lag are now simply a necessary evil. The more we fly, the more we learn what works for us all individually but if any of these tips can help a fellow traveller from that horrible 3am wide awake feeling then you’re welcome!