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How to Prevent Jet Lag

Updated on January 26, 2017
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Don't let your next vacation get spoiled by annoying jet lag symptoms. Learn about simple steps you can take to reduce jet lag when you fly through multiple time zones.

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For most people, taking a tropical vacation in another hemisphere or jetting off on a business trip on the other side of the world results in a case of jet lag. The most common symptom of jet lag is feeling sluggish when you arrive at your destination. Depending on the direction of your journey, on the other hand, you may feel overly alert and restless because your internal sleeping and waking clock is out of synch with the local time zone. Jet lag can also affect your digestion, your mood, and your ability to concentrate.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take before, during, and after your flight to reduce the effects of traveling across several times zones.

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Booking Your Flight

Prevent jet lag by choosing a smart travel schedule and book the best flight possible. One of the easiest ways to curb jet lag is to make efficient flight reservations that get you to your destination as quickly as possible. The faster you get to where you are going, the faster you can start adjusting to your new time zone and start making the most of your trip.

  • Direct flights and flights with short layovers are usually more expensive than flights with multiple connections and long layovers. Sure, you may save $150 by stopping in three cities with a combined layover time of eight hours, but are the savings really worth it? If you're exhausted from a long day of traveling, it will take longer to get into the groove when you get to your destination. If you're out-of-it for a day and not enjoying the first few days of your trip because you're so tired, how much money are you really saving by choosing a cheap flight?

What is the point of saving money on airfare if it means you have to spend hours and hours of your precious vacation on layovers.
What is the point of saving money on airfare if it means you have to spend hours and hours of your precious vacation on layovers. | Source

Before You Get on the Plane

Get ahead of jet lag before you step out the door. Start your trip off on the right foot by reducing stress triggers before you go to the airport.

  • Avoid arriving at the airport cranky and frazzled. Getting a good amount of rest before your flight is important. If you're stressed out and feeling harried before you get board the plane, it will take longer to settle in and relax on your flight. Pack and get organized for your trip well in advance of heading to the airport.
  • If you can, take a day off of work before your trip so that you can relax a bit and get into vacation mode before you get on the plane. Rushing out the door at work to catch a plane to an exotic destination may sound exciting and adventurous, but it doesn't give you time to mentally switch gears from work mode to vacation mode. Being irritable because you were overwhelmed with last-minute at work details will only aggravate jet-lag symptoms.
  • Don't party hard the night before your flight. Although you may want to celebrate the fact that you're going on a fantastic trip by having a bon voyage party, don't overdo it. Being hung-over on a flight is not fun. Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine 12 - 24 hours before your flight. If you get caffeine withdrawal headaches when you don't have your morning cuppa joe, drink just enough coffee to keep a headache away. Try drinking half a cup instead of your regular one or two cups.

Travel with comfort in mind.The clothes you wear and the foods you eat can impact the quality of your flying experience.

  • Dress comfortably for your flight. Loose, breathable clothing that can be put on and taken off in layers is ideal for a stress-free flight. Wear comfortable shoes. Pack a small toiletry kit of comfort items such as facial and hand wipes, hand sanitizers, some touch-up make-up, a travel toothbrush, eye mask and any other flight-cabin approved items that will help you freshen up while on the plane.
  • Avoid eating a rich and spicy meal before your flight. Big meals can make you feel stuffed and bloated. Spicy meals drenched in salt, garlic, and onion will leave a lingering taste in your mouth. Spicy foods can also contribute to embarrassing body odor a few hours after consumption. Do yourself and your fellow passengers a favor and eat a light and refreshing meal instead of a heavy, rich meal before you take-off.

Watch the video clip below for more great tips on how to avoid jet lag by getting to the airport on time!

When You Get to Your Destination

You made it! Now that you've arrived at your destination, take time to ease into vacation mode.

Settle in. When you land, try to adapt your schedule to your new surroundings as soon as possible: Eat, sleep, and exercise based on the local time, not your usual home time programmed into your head.

A shower, change of clothes, and a light walk around your vacation destination can give you a boost of energy to stay awake for the rest of the day and then go to bed at local time.

How many time zones do you have to cross before you start feeling jet lagged?

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© 2017 Georgina Jones

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