Over the past few years of travel, I’ve been a serious victim of jet lag. My first day in Europe, I took a nap that lasted into an all day/all night coma and awoke at the ungodly hour of 4 am – a time where no sleeping pill will do the trick. My second time in Europe, I managed to take a catnap of only three hours. The real kick in the gut was when I traveled over to Australia from the USA. I had no intention of adjusting quickly, as I would be there for a year, and I’m pretty sure I fell asleep for three weeks straight (it’s times like these that make you happy that there are places like Leesa that make comfortable mattresses). So as I prepared for my journey back home from Australia, I knew I had to get it right this time.
After researching tips and tricks and putting into practice on my own, I think I’ve finally hit the nail on the head. After almost 30 hours of flying and layovers, I managed to not only make it through my first day at home, but also go out that night with my parents and stay up late!
I decided if I could manage to succeed over jetlag on my upcoming trip from home to Thailand then I would write about my own personal tricks to jetlag. And here I am, another 30 hours later of flying with four stopovers, and I’m alive and kicking.
So how did I manage to beat jetlag after being so defenseless just a year prior? I’ll let you in on my tips right now:
1. Do the math
The most important thing you can do to ensure you will ease right into the next time zone is to figure out what time it is in your final destination. Set your watch to the local time, and try your best to take a nap (or sometimes a very much needed sleeping pill) in sync with when it would be a normal time to sleep at your destination. If you can manage to sleep even a little bit at the local sleeping time, this will help so much.
2. Eat Breakfast
I know it can be insanely tough to wake up when the airplane lights turn on after a little snooze. Even if it is normally 2 am in your hometown, the airplane is putting on the lights for a reason – it’s morning time at your destination. If it’s a longer flight, they will serve breakfast, and although it may be an ungodly hour to eat breakfast, you need to get on a normal eating schedule. This will wake up your metabolism and get your eating habits in sync, as well.
For me, the best way to completely relax on an 8-hour plane ride is to have known I worked out at least 12 hours prior to my flight. You feel relaxed, refreshed and, at least in my case, very happy. Exercising will keep you body burning calories, your endorphin levels high and all around, keeps you energized for the long haul. Alternatively, I always love to exercise when I land. No matter how tired I am, I find if I get right to it, walk around the new city I’m in or even go for a run in the hotel gym, this will keep your energy levels high throughout the day. Also, staying healthy while traveling is vital to ensuring a successful trip.
4. Keep Moving
To go along with the previous point, as soon as you land, you have to keep yourself moving. I found that the reason I slept half the day away in Ireland was because I allowed myself to take a “cat nap.” I like to put everything away once I arrive, put on my waling boots and hit the town. Whether it’s a walk on the beach, a hike in the mountain or just grabbing a coffee with a friend, you have to keep both your mind and body stimulated.
5. Keep Those Lids Wide Open
I know this is the easiest advice to give and the hardest advice to take, but it’s imperative to just stay awake as long as you can. If you can keep moving throughout the day, it makes it so much easier to stay awake until a normal sleeping hour, than if you allow yourself to nap. The times I stayed awake the entire day, I woke up with little to no jet lag!
Now, I know it all sounds easier said than done, and trust me I’ve been there once, and I definitely will be there again. If you absolutely need to nap, no biggie! The most important thing you need to do while traveling is to listen to your body, but if you can follow a few of these steps, I promise it will be so much easier to transition into local time and enjoy your adventures.
ABOUT: Kelly Schwantes (otherwise known as KP) is an Outbound Ambassador. Florida-born, Sydney-based KP has traveled to 30 countries, studied in three and lived in two – all before turning 22. In between trips, KP likes to practice yoga, write, run on the beach and plan the next big adventure. If you want to read more, check out her blog on all things travel: www.whereintheworldkp.com