We all know that feeling, you step off the airplane after a 12-hour flight unsure of your surroundings, with no idea of what time it is, astounded at the feat of making it to your hotel bed. Upon waking up after an unexpected eight-hour nap, you find it difficult to sleep when it is actually dark outside, starting the vicious jet lag cycle. Jet lag, medically referred to as desynchronosis, can deter many from making the most of their travels abroad. However, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself and alleviate the awful affects of jet lag.

Tip 1: Drink water

As tempting as that in-flight glass of wine may be, make sure to stay hydrated during your travels. Refillable water bottles are a great travel accessory; you can bring them through security (empty) and fill at the closest water fountain once inside the terminal. Bringing your own water bottle can also help you avoid being stuck with overpriced water at the airport gift shop. During your flight, opt for water instead of sodas and juices, and hold off on caffeine until it is a complete necessity (possibly your first night on the town post-arrival).

Tip 2: Adjust ahead of time

Forcing yourself to take an earlier or later bedtime while still at home can help you adjust more easily to the upcoming changes in your routine. Adjusting your eating times can also help your body begin the adjustment process. However, this is not to be taken to an extreme; forcing yourself to stay awake for an unnatural amount of time can harm your immune system, which is something you do not want to do before traveling. So, gradually adjust your schedule by just a couple hours a few days before departing, working towards the eventual goal of your destination’s time zone.

Tip 3: Exercise

It is proven that healthy, active people can adjust to change easier. Granted you will probably be sitting on an airplane for an extended time, exercising and moving around pre-flight will expel energy, making your body less restless during the flight. Cardio-centered activities are ideal; consider taking a hike, running with your dog, or playing soccer with your friends one last time before your big trip. Pairing cardio with some simple yoga stretching and breathing pre-flight can alleviate aches and pains that you anticipate upon arrival (such as a sore back or stiff legs), as well as any travel-related anxiety.

Tip 4: Prepare in-flight activities (or non-activities)

Flight activities should be dependent upon what your plans are after arriving at your destination. Flights that arrive during the day are best for people who stand a chance of sleeping on the airplane. If you plan on site-seeing immediately, it may be best to dress comfy for your flight and bring any necessary sleeping accessories, such as an eye mask or neck pillow. However, if you don’t often find yourself in deep slumber while en route, consider choosing a flight that arrives at night. If you are arriving at night, you should bring something stimulating and time consuming, like seasons of that one TV show your friends swear you HAVE to watch. Then, when you arrive, you won’t be stuck awake all night while the rest of the city is sleeping.

While jet lag may be the hardest part of traveling for your body, there are simple steps you can take to lessen the effects of this annoying consequence. Most of all, it is important to listen to your body; if you need to take that quick afternoon nap, then do it, just don’t let it turn into an eight-hour snooze. Combating jet lag is an essential first step to traveling with ease, leaving more time to enjoy your destination.

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About Allison Palenske