Beating jet lag: how to travel smart across time zones

Businessman in front of a wallwith clocks of different country - Jetlag concept

Anyone who’s taken a flight which spans several time zones, whether west to east or east to west, can tell you about jet lag. Jet lag is essentially a condition caused by the disruption of what is called your circadian rhythms, the 24 hour daily cycle during which you distribute your waking and sleeping hours.

If you’re accustomed to waking at 7am and going to sleep at 11pm, local time and suddenly disrupt this cycle by getting on a plane and traveling to a destination that changes your normal 7am wakeup to 4pm, while matching up your normal bedtime to 8am, you will experience jet lag.

The symptoms of jet lag are much like that of a hangover. You’re utterly exhausted, dehydrated, suffering from indigestion and a bit disoriented. This is no way to start a vacation! Here we give you some practical tips on how to travel smart and beat the jet lag syndrome.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that ordering a drink on board, or taking a sleeping pill will help. According to The Lancet medical reports, almost 20% of deaths on board long flights are attributed to blood clots, particularly in the lungs, induced by travelers who have used an alcoholic beverage or sleeping pill in an attempt to side-step the lack of sleep factor! This strategy is a loser. What you should do instead is to make sure that you keep your circulation intact. Walk around, or just stretch your legs periodically.

As with a hangover, jet lag is a condition of extreme dehydration. One of the best things you can do to moderate the effects of jet lag is to drink water. So simple, yet effective. Typically, the airplane cabin is drier than the least humid places on earth – you’re losing, on average, 8 ounces of water per hour through your skin. You’ve got to replenish this lost water! Drinking water throughout the flight goes a long way towards avoiding the worst of jet lag. Travel smart! Avoid alcoholic beverages and drink at least a cup of water every hour you’re in flight.

Here’s another travel smart tip to reduce jet lag symptoms. To combat indigestion, as well as nausea, pack a few packets of ginger tea to sip during flight time.

The air you breathe during your flight is recirculating air, leaving you open to every cough and sneeze on board. This travel smart tip is of a preventative nature. A couple of weeks before you get on board, load up on vitamin C and an herbal supplement of echinacea, a super immune system booster. This is a good way to ward off the colds and other illnesses that might be traveling on board with you.

Dressing comfortably, in loose clothing is another travel smart way to ward off the effects of jet lag. A pair of warm socks and a neck pillow can help you catch a few z’s during your flight.

We’ve saved our best travel smart tip for last. Contrary to popular wisdom, setting your watch to your destination’s local time the minute you leave for the airport, is about as close to a magic trick as you can get. The trick to this travel smart anti-jet lag tip is to convince your mind, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that your watch is correct. On a long flight, by the time you arrive, you’re convinced! This little trick has stood me in good stead for many a trip. Mind over matter.