How to avoid jet lag in 7 easy steps

Traveling long distances with several connecting flights and stopovers can be an exhausting start to your well-earned holiday; or return home after a great trip.

Fear no more! Here are some tips on what to do before, during and after your flight that will leave you saying ‘so long!’ to the most unwelcome travel partner of all: the dreaded jet lag.

1. Do your homework

When traveling to a place multiple time zones away, it pays to prepare a few days in advance. If you are headed west, gently dupe your body before for a few days by staying up an hour later than usual so you’d be closer to your travel destination’s bedtime hours, however, if you are traveling east, apply reverse tactics and tuck yourself in to bed a bit earlier.

2. Plane time is destination time

Reduce your jet lag symptoms by adjusting your body clock and getting some shut eye.

Reduce your jet lag symptoms by adjusting your body clock and getting some shuteye.

First of all: get there mentally. This means you set your watch to the new time zone as soon as you board the plane. It also means you should always try and sleep if you are on a night flight, landing in the morning. Whether traveling backwards or forwards in time: settle yourself into the new rhythm.

3. Drink water, eat light and exercise

Take good care of your body. It is going through a rough time. Drink lots of water and eat something light before the flight. Prepare light snacks like nuts or fruits, and don’t force yourself if you’re not hungry by the time the in-flight meal arrives. If drinking a glass of alcohol helps calm your nerves before a flight, go ahead, but go lightly. Over-drinking will contribute to more dehydration.

If your legs feel restless, don’t worry, you have company. Join many other passengers walking up and down the aisles. Exercising your muscles will help relieve tension, get your oxygen flowing, and keep your mind off drinking and eating (at least for a couple minutes).

4. Freshen up

When you get to your destination, take a shower or a dip in the pool if you are lucky enough to have access to one. Freshening up will invariably make you feel better. This also applies to any stopovers you might have on your journey. You may not be able to take a shower or go for a swim, but taking a long stroll, washing your face and brushing your teeth will make you feel more comfortable for the next flight.

5. Let there be light

Soak up the sun and and get rid of your jet lag symptoms.

Soak up the sun and and get rid of your jet lag symptoms.

By controlling your exposure to daylight at your destination you can trick your brain into beating jet lag faster. As soon as you arrive make sure to spend some time outdoors in the daylight if possible. This will help stabilize your body clock.

6. No napping before bedtime

No matter how tired you feel, you should try to stay awake until late in the evening to have the best chance at beating jet lag. Allow the time to reach at least 9pm local time before putting your head on that comfortable-looking pillow.

7. Use remedies: with caution

Airline staff often take melatonin for jet lag, a hormone formed by the body in darkness. The pill does nothing to help you adjust naturally to a new sleeping pattern, it merely sends you to sleep like a horse-kick. Consider only taking it if all else has failed.

… Is it really jet lag?

Be aware that not all symptoms are jet lag related. Dry eyes, headaches, irritated nose and sinuses, dizziness, swollen feet or limbs, bloating and earaches are often caused by the dry air, pressurization, and cramped quarters of an airplane. If you suffer from sinusitis because of flying, then it can help to drink lots of water – up to two 8-ounce glasses per hour.

Once you’ve learned to follow our jet lag cure tips, all that’s left to do is enjoy your well-earned vacation, and we think you will definitely be able to manage that one all on your own.

Check out the ‘News & tips’ section of the momondo blog for more expert travel advice.