Beat the Clock: Proven Tips for Preventing Jet Lag and Enjoying Your Destination

No matter how magical your destination may be, nothing diminishes the wonder of travel like jet lag. 

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You know the feeling—you land in an exciting new locale only for fatigue to flatten you right into your hotel bed mid-day. Then there’s the curse of arriving in the middle of the night to your dream getaway, full of energy but fully knowing that a jet lag crash is biding its time around the corner.

Jet lag can be a stressful side effect of travel, especially when trips are short and every minute counts. Luckily, everyone is capable of preventing jetlag. In this guide, we’ll share the pre-flight and mid-flight strategies to help you leave jet lag on the runway and arrive at your destination feeling well-rested.

Jet Lag for Dummies: The Science Behind the Sensation

What is jet lag, and what exactly are the causes and symptoms of the condition?

Jet lag is a short-term sleep disorder that mainly affects travelers crossing multiple time zones in a short period.1 Some of the most common jet lag symptoms include:

  • Feeling foggy and exhausted during the day
  • Trouble falling asleep or waking up reliably
  • Reduced ability to concentrate or focus
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Erratic mood levels
  • General unwell feeling

Jet lag happens when your body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, is at odds with your new time zone. Generally speaking, the more time zones you cross, the worse your experience of jet lag can be. Flying east and “losing” time is usually more challenging than traveling west and “gaining” time. Lastly, older adults may take more time to adjust fully and shake jet lag.

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How to Beat Jet Lag Before Wheels-Up: 3 Pre-Flight Tips for Success

You have a meeting in London that has to go perfectly. But it’s a long flight, and it’ll be 9:00 AM local time when you land at Heathrow. The problem is, your body believes you’re in Los Angeles, where it’s 1:00 AM. How do you adjust your sleep schedule and avoid sleep deprivation beforehand?

Keep these strategies on beating jet lag in mind before you fly, and you’ll be able to crush that meeting or enjoy your sightseeing tour while mitigating the dreaded jet lag.

  • Rest for success – In the week or a few days before your big flight, get a healthy amount of rest each night. Traveling in an already sleep-deprived state can make the effects of jet lag worse and can prolong your adjustment time. Improve your overall sleep quality by avoiding caffeine, blue light, and large meals in the hours leading up to bedtime.
  • Give yourself time – No matter how hard we try, sometimes jet lag is inevitable. When scheduling your trip around a significant event or activity, try to arrive at your destination with plenty of time before it starts, perhaps even a few days early. Doing so gives your body clock the time it needs to adjust to a new time zone allowing you to be on your A-game for the wedding, pub crawl, or night at the in-laws.
  • Tweak your sleep schedule ahead of time – Try incrementally adjusting your bedtime to your new location’s time zone in the days preceding your travel. For example, you can go to bed earlier or later than you typically would each night and rearrange your eating schedule so that your body has fewer adjustments to make upon arrival.

So what if you’re already on the plane, reading this in a panicked state as you wonder if you prepared thoroughly enough before you left? Don’t worry—we still have tricks to make your in-flight time as effective as possible to fight jet lag.

Defy While You Fly: 3 In-Flight Strategies for Beating Jet Lag

The decisions you make while on your globe-spanning voyage can increase or decrease the severity of your jet lag when you land. Whether your flight is three hours long or thirteen, here are some strategies for a happier landing.

  • Act like you’re already there – You’ll want your body to adjust to the new timezone as efficiently as possible upon arrival. To that end, if it’s nighttime where you’re going, try to sleep on the plane with the help of flying essentials, even if it’s daytime at your point of origin. Ear plugs or noise-canceling headphones, a comfortable eye mask, and pillows or blankets are great items to help ease you to sleep on a plane with loud noises and bright light emitting from the windows. If you find yourself wide awake, consider taking a sleep aid such as a melatonin supplement or an herbal sleep medicine.
  • Take time to set the time – You may rely on your phone to automatically reset its internal clock upon arriving and connecting to mobile data. If possible, set it to your destination’s local time when you get on the plane. It’s the same if you wear a watch. Seeing the local time when you check your clocks on the plane will help reinforce your gradual adjustment to when you’re supposed to be awake, eat, and sleep.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – No one wants to be that person who gets up to use the bathroom constantly during a long flight. However, according to experts, dehydration can worsen jet lag symptoms.2 So perhaps skip the caffeine and alcohol and drink water regularly to arrive in peak travel-ready condition.

With these international travel tips, the hardest part will be over once you’ve arrived, and you can enjoy your destination well-rested and ready to experience somewhere new!

Shed Travel Anxieties with Maya Mobile

Jet lag can be a significant stress while flying across the world, but with the right preparation, it doesn’t have to consume all your focus. Similarly, figuring out how to use your phone internationally and avoid huge roaming fees can be burdensome—but it doesn’t have to be with Maya Mobile.

The best eSIM for international travel completely erases phone-related hassles that have hindered travelers for years. Before, getting a SIM card prepared for your trip or buying an additional international phone were unavoidable annoyances. 

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  1. Mayo Clinic. Jet lag disorder.
  2. Healthline. 8 Tips to Help Get Over Jet Lag.