I have done countless killer journeys in my travels around the world. For example, in 2012, I traveled from Fairfield, Iowa, USA to Bodrum, Turkey. It took me 42 hours and 5 flights to get there! Even though this was a mega long travel time, I didn’t experience jet lag. From 10 years of trying all kinds of different things I have now got it down so that I avoid jet lag symptoms almost altogether. Follow these 15 tips below and I’m sure you’ll feel much better when you get to your destination making your trip more enjoyable.
1) Eat hot food & avoid cold things
My favorite thing to eat while traveling is a Japanese miso soup or a butternut squash soup from Wolfgang Pucks. Warm or hot food calms the body and makes it easier to sleep on the plane. I recommend avoiding salad and ice cream because the coldness makes it harder for the body to digest and settle down for the long flight ahead.
2) Bring a pillow
I love to sleep. I can’t do that unless I have a comfortable place for my head. Airline pillows don’t count. If you have a window seat then a pillow can make that corner spot rather comfortable and I’m able to sleep quite well because of the pillow. The added benefit is that when you get to your destination you don’t have to get used to a new unfamiliar pillow. Another trick on this point is to bring a second pillow case over the other one so that when you land you already have a clean pillow.
3) Use aromatherapy – essential oils
Lavender calms the mind and body and makes it much easier to sleep. Since the olfactory is such an accessible pathway to the brain using essential oils can be a fantastic way to prevent jet lag and help fix it upon landing. Other oils which are very good are Vetiver, Marjoram and Sandalwood.
4) Stretch or do Yoga
Being cramped up in a tiny seat without moving for hours on end makes the body tense up. This affects the mind and digestion which in turn increases the symptoms of jet lag. Stretching and especially doing yoga can help tremendously because it quickly relaxes the mind and body. I usually bring a silk shawl specifically for laying out in the airports to stretch before and between connecting flights. Some airports even have yoga and meditation rooms where it is nice to go and chill out.
5) Try not to watch movies
As difficult as it is, I highly recommend you try abstain from watching more than one movie. See how by just doing that your jet lag is much less. I think for me it is because of the glare from poor screen quality that makes me feel dazed and difficult to sleep, even though my flight is overnight. So I also recommend avoiding anything that has a back light e.g iPads and computers. I do best when I don’t watch movies at all during flights.
6) Instead, enjoy a good book
I find that reading helps pass the time in a therapeutic way as long as its from a book or a non back lit Kindle. This is a much better choice than movies as long as you can read without the need for a light which causes eye strain. It’s also nice to have the book for your waiting times in the airports between flights. I find that when I read a good fiction book I’ll sleep better on the plane.
7) Stay hydrated & avoid alcohol
This is a simple point that most people know but it can’t be overlooked. Hydration makes all the cells in the body happier and less fatigued. Alcohol is a diuretic meaning that it makes the body get dehydrated faster and therefore increasing the chances of getting jet lagged. I personally make sure to buy water before getting on the plane because the airlines don’t provide enough.
8) Get a massage at the airport
Massage has endless benefits such as: stress relief, improved relaxation and sleep, better circulation, lower blood pressure and stronger digestion & immunity to name a few. These days there are day spas in many of the major airports and I make it a point to get a massage every trip. On a recent trip to Sydney from San Francisco I had a 1 hr full body massage at the SFO airport. This lead me to sleep almost the entire 14 hr flight to Sydney and was a big factor in my prevention of jet lag.
9) Drink hot herbal tea
I usually drink peppermint tea or some other soothing herbal tea. This helps calm the nerves, improve digestion, stay hydrated and helps me sleep. Iced drinks have the opposite effects and definitely won’t help with getting over jet lag.
10) Listen to relaxing music
Sound is the most subtle and primordial sense. Listening to very relaxing music helps you to unplug, relax and chill out for the flight. I find that it helps me transcend time and allows me to enjoy having my eyes closed for long periods of time. This rest often leads me to sleep and makes me fresher when I get off the plane.
I practice Transcendental Meditation and this meditation is a wonderful thing to do during your flight. It is so relaxing, enjoyable and also has countless countless mind and body benefits. If I have a long journey I can do my meditation 2 or 3 times over the space of 10 hrs.
Obviously a major cause of jet lag is lack of sleep. If you can possibly get any sleep on your flight then you’ll be much better off and less likely to have symptoms when you arrive. All the above tips will help make it easier to sleep but I find having the intention to sleep is a big part of it. Also going with the sun helps. What I mean by this is that if the sun sets then you can try to go to sleep even if it is only 5 o’clock in the afternoon. The Pineal Gland plays a big role in the bodies circadian rhythms and so when it is dark, make the most of it because it probably won’t be dark for the entire International flight. For example a flight from the US to Europe typically leaves in the afternoon or early evening and arrives in the mid morning Europe time so it is a very short night. In this case I would try to sleep soon after boarding in order to maximize my sleep. The last tip which is easier said than done is to claim more than one seat so that you can stretch horizontal for the entire flight.
13) Adjust to your timezone
Often times a major reason people get jet lag is because they don’t adjust to their new timezone. I highly recommend that you make this adjustment as soon as you land so that your body quickly changes to the new environment and you get back on your feet faster. For example, if you arrive at 10am after 20 hour journey, don’t go to sleep until at least 8pm so that you will be able to sleep through the night.
14) Take a hot bath upon arrival
If it’s possible to take a hot bath at your destination. The health benefits of hot bathes are wonderful for instance: improved blood circulation, better lymph circulation, detoxification, increased metabolism and a calmer nervous system. It also helps to nourish the dry skin caused by the flight. I put some of the essential oils mentioned above which ground you and settle down your entire being.
15) Ground to the earth
Last but not least, ground to the earth in your new location. Often when you travel you go from one environment and weather system to a completely new one. This confuses the body so that it doesn’t really know what going on and this is a part of the cause of getting jet lagged. A way to speed up the adjustment is to ground to earth. This can be achieved by going out in natural, walking barefoot, swimming in the ocean or local lake or just light exercise in general. For example, if you go on a beach vacation then go for a swim as soon as you can upon landing. You won’t believe how refreshed you’ll feel.
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