Tips to limit your travel fatigue
No matter how often you fly across time zones, there’s one thing that’s common to all travelers: Jet lag. It’s an ever-present side-effect which intensifies the further you fly. The greater the number of time zones you cross, the more you’ll suffer. Plenty of people even report symptoms occurring following a long-distance journey within a single zone after a long flight.
Fatigue, disorientation, headaches, irritation – not the ideal cocktail for a celebration on arrival. There are steps you can take to prepare yourself, as well as in-flight and post-flight measures that diminish the effects.
We’ve prepared a list of 10 you ought to consider…
Tip #1 – The 1:1 Ratio: Most people find that every hour of time they lose or gain adds one day to the time it takes for them to feel fully recovered. Therefore, a flight from the East coast to the West will typically require three days until you’re fully adjusted.
Tip #2 – Set your body clock: The more regimented you are, the more you’ll suffer, but you can adjust before you fly. If you rise from and head off to bed at the same time each day and night, push your schedule backwards or forwards as much as possible in order to fit in with your destination.
Tip #3 – Before you fly: Make sure you travel in the best of health. Eat, sleep and exercise regularly before you go, and make sure you avoid stimulants like alcohol and caffeine the day before. All these factors will affect your adjustment upon arrival.
Tip #4 – In the airport: Remain active and get your blood flowing before you board the plane. Avoid escalators or moving sidewalks – walk up the stairs or to the gate instead. Fitting in a workout on a layover at the airport is becoming more popular and accessible, too. If you’re taking off from San Francisco, try the Yoga Room in Terminal 2 for some quiet reflection and relaxation.
Tip #5 – Get comfy: Plan your stay in the plane well. All the things that come naturally to seasoned travelers are those which will ease your transition to a new time zone. Wear loose, breathable clothing and comfortable shoes that allow for the swelling of your feet as you fly. Neck pillows, arm rests, headphones – whatever you need to help you relax on-board should not be sacrificed for carry-on allowances. You’ll thank yourself later.
Tip #6 – Stay hydrated: Again, once you’re in the air consume plenty of fluids, preferably non-alcoholic, un-caffeinated and no fizz. Flight attendants should always oblige you if you ask for more water. Taking an empty water bottle in your carry-on and filling it from a water fountain once you’re inside the secure area will provide you with a steady source of water. Sleep-inducing herbal teas are an excellent choice.
Tip #7 – Move around: Deep vein thrombosis is a well-documented if comparatively unlikely side-effect of remaining too static on a flight. However, making sure you get up and move around to get your blood flowing at least every 2-3 hours is an essential aspect of remaining healthy in transit.
Tip #8 – Melatonin: A naturally occurring chemical that regulates sleep patterns, some people report success in treating jet lag with melatonin tablets available at drug stores. However, used incorrectly they can do more harm to your rest cycles than good, so read the instructions, consult your doctor and try it out beforehand.
Tip #9 – Light therapy: Another remedy said to aid adjustment to travel. Airlines are adopting mood lighting in the new airplanes to provide better sleeping conditions. Private companies offer sessions that help you get back in sync or there are smartphone apps available. Other people simply suggest exposing yourself to a few minutes of direct sunlight after you’ve touched down.
Tip #10 – Eat right: The jet lag diet became popular a few years ago but it’s a lot of hassle and its effects are unproven. What isn’t is that eating a healthy diet high in fiber prior to a long flight will prepare your body and limit jet lag.
Try to limit your first day activities in your new destination to avoid those that are extremely physical or stressful. Although a bed may look like a great place for a nap (a quick snooze in a chair may help revive you – but set your alarm to limit your nap to about 20 minutes; a shower upon arrival is also good for feeling refreshed) try to stay awake as long as possible during the day to help adjust your body to your new timezone.
More information is available in this article on the Independent Traveler.