Let’s be very clear about one thing, there is no Jet lag cure or magic pill (too bad, right?). There are however, several Jet lag remedies that can help you get over the hump. Jet lag in babies and toddlers can be brutal. Jet lag as you get older can also be hard, but there are a number of ways to ease the transition.
JET LAG REMEDIES
It’s those odd in between years that seem to be the golden ages, about 8 to 28 years old. Those travelers seem to bounce back from jet lag with less complaining.
There are several jet lag tips to keep in mind as you plan your trip and start to pack. You can do a few before you leave, more while you travel, and several once you land in your new destination.
Stay positive, no matter how tired your body is, and you will have an amazing trip. The real Jet lag cure is all about your attitude. Don’t let it get you down.
THE NIGHT BEFORE YOUR FLIGHT
Make sure you get a good night sleep. Starting your trip well rested will help your body take on the coming days of wonky sleep. Exercise the week leading up to your trip as well. Even a simple walk around the block each night can get your blood flowing.
What to Pack for the Plane
- Compression Socks
- Water Bottle
- Bento Box dinner
- Oatmeal breakfast
- Neck pillow
- Eye mask
GET COMFY ON THE PLANE
Once you’re on the plane, it’s time to get settled and make your seat your happy place.
If you have kids traveling with you, make a sleep tent on the plane for them. This will block out the overhead lights and those seat back screens that can distract them.
You want your kids to nap, if only for a few hours. Babies and toddlers who normally sleep 12 hours each night, cannot skip these prime sleep hours. Jet lag in babies means extra jet lag for you.
Get as much stuff out of your way as possible. Put your big bag overhead. Stick your essentials in the front seat pocket. Your small purse or bag can go at your feet. Once you take off, tuck it up against your seat so you can stretch out your legs. Now you are getting cozy.
COMBATING JET LAG BEFORE YOU LAND
You can’t avoid jet lag, but you can help your body ease into a new time zone. Take a nap if you can, but don’t take a sleeping pill. That will only make you groggy.
Also, do not drink the free alcohol. I know you want too, especially that champagne on the Air France flight. Try to resist. Alcohol will dehydrate you. Dehydration is an anti-jet lag remedy.
The wine they serve onboard tends to be sweet. All of that sugar will turn your stomach, causing more jet lag nausea than you want to deal with when you land.
Drink water before and throughout your flight. Drink even more water after you land. Yes, you will have to get up to use the toilet, but you should be getting up to stretch every two hours anyway. Now you have a good excuse.
While you wait to use the toilet, do a few stretched. Touch your toes, reach for the ceiling, pull one leg behind you to touch your bottom.
Others may look at you funny at first, but then they will join you.
I’ve started stretching on more than one flight, gone and sat down and then seen my fellow passengers get up to stretch too. We all need that reminder to move out legs.
Moms, I’m looking at you. Our veins are a mess after having kids. Even if you aren’t pregnant, you need to keep that blood circulating.
Get your kids up to stretch every few hours as well. Don’t let them stay plugged in for hours on end. Everyone should be moving, no matter how long the flight.
PROTEIN PACKED DINNER
Bento boxes are my new favorite way to pack meals for the plane. I have long abhorred airline food. Most often, I’ll skip the hot entrée and just ask for a tray so I can eat the salad, cheese and crackers.
When I pack up a bento box, I like to cram it with cured meats, cheeses, vegetables (cucumbers, peppers, carrots), fruits (berries, grapes, apples) and crackers. I try to keep the sugary sweets and super salty foods to a minimum.
Again, you don’t want anything that will dehydrate you too much. I also want foods that are packed with protein and vitamins.
BREAKFAST IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL
Overnight flights tend to include dinner and breakfast. The breakfast offerings have become a meager affair, which is why I pack an oatmeal cup to eat before I land.
Every airline offers hot water on transatlantic flights. Oatmeal gives you a nice punch of fiber and is much better than those croissants and bagels they tend to serve.
Grab a yogurt and some fruit from the airline trays if they are offered. You will be powered up on protein and vitamins to give you energy to get to your hotel or next destination after you land.
JET LAG IN YOUR DESTINATION
You have arrived. Hooray! Now it’s time to get serious about your jet lag remedies.
You did a great job on the airplane. If you haven’t set your watch to local time already, make sure you do it so you start thinking on local time.
Do NOT even think about what time it is back home. That will not help you battle your jet lag today.
Take a Walk
As soon as you dump your bags, take a walk. Get to know the city, but more importantly, get some fresh air.
Sunshine and fresh air are one of the best jet lag cures out there, and guess what, it’s free.
If kids are traveling with you, head to a local park. Let the kids run around with other children, play on the monkey bars and swing for an hour. This will refuel their spirits and get them ready to face a new day.
Do not cloister your children in an old museum. That will get you nothing but whining and complaining. It’s just not how you want to start off your trip.
GET YOUR VITAMINS
As you wander, find a local fruit market to load up on fruits and vegetables. If there is a smoothie shop, buy everyone their smoothie of choice to get a burst of vitamins into your bodies.
Skip the Alcohol the First Day
If you can stand it, skip the wine, beer and cocktails today. Continue to hydrate with water as your body acclimates to the new time zone.
Remember, alcohol, as well as caffeine dehydrates. Now, we can’t ask you to skip your morning latte, but maybe you can skip that 5 o’clock wine just this once.
If you can’t, have two glasses of water per cocktail at the very least. You will thank us later.
SLEEPING IN YOUR LOCATION
Try to stay awake until as close to your normal bedtime as possible in your destination. Jet lag is all dependent on how fast you can adjust to local time. If you normally go to bed at 10pm, but can only stay vertical until 8pm, it’s OK. Go to sleep.
You don’t want to risk getting sick and running your body down. What you don’t want to do is go to bed at 2pm, wake up at 3am and be wide awake for the rest of the day. That’s not helpful at all.
If you must nap, do so when you first arrive. Set a loud alarm and sleep no more than two hours.
Once you get up, shower to really wake up, go out to eat and see the sights. I know I can’t stay up for 24 hours straight, so I do have to nap when I arrive in a new destination sometimes. But seriously, get up with your alarm or you’ll be sorry.
The Jet Lag Cure
While it’s true, there is no jet lag cure out there, you can do a lot to ease the symptoms that effect just about anyone who travels to a different time zone. Those who say they don’t feel the effects are either laying, or are 18 years old.
For the rest of us, the only cure to jet lag I can offer is water, healthy food, fresh air and a good nights sleep after you arrive. Good luck!