I’ve become fond of adding quotes to posts in recent weeks so I’ve decided to just go with that and use a quote for every post for a little while. Keeping with the theme of jet lag…
Jet lag last night was like bad ‘shrooms. When my dad asked what that meant I told him its like being in a musical you don’t want to be in.
– Lady Gaga
I can honestly say I know nothing about “‘shrooms” (good or bad), and I certainly don’t travel as much as Lady Gaga does, but I get where she’s coming from.
As much as I love to travel, I am not fond of travel days that involve time zones. It means that the first day in the country you fly to is pretty much a blur of tiredness and mostly a write-off. That being said, jet lag is the best excuse for any blunders or the extra time it takes you (me), the foreigner, to re-figure out what each coin is while you are at a cashier desk. That was me on my second full day in Edinburgh while trying to pay for my energy bars and spelt pasta at Real Foods.
Random piece of trivia: Did you know that Canada has a 50 cent coin? It was for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. I was reminded of this after the cashier at Real Foods looked baffled at what I thought was a 50 pence coin and said to me “That’s Canadian…”. I have at least three of these coins and I have no idea how I have them… I suppose I should save them.
Having landed at 7:00 am local time on my first day, I was determined to make it at least through dinner. But no. My total of four hours sleep and a 3:00 am morning caught up with me around noon and let our friends who I am staying with know that I was taking a power nap. “Only one hour,” said the very wise Stephen when he texted back. But did my body listen to the alarm I set? Nope.
I woke up three hours later feeling refreshed and hoping I wouldn’t regret the extra sleep. It turned out to be fine. I was ravenous and ate every morsel the delicious dinner Lesley made, and I slept right through the night; though my stomach was extremely confused when I woke up the next morning.
My tips for combatting jet lag:
- Hydrate – Drink water. Before, during and after flights. Water is your friend. Hydrating will help prevent feeling run down (which is when we are more prone to things like jet lag), dry skin, possibility of blood clots (also move around so you are not sitting the entire time), and it is just good for you in general. I’ve started travelling with a Klean Kanteen water bottle and before every flight (after security), I buy a bottle of water and fill it up. I also pour every cup of water the flight attendants give me in the bottle. You’ll have to pee a few times but that also gets you out of your seat and moving, so two birds, one stone. (Try to avoid caffeine or alcohol, they suck the moisture out of you even quicker than the cold plane air.)
- Get Local – Try to get on destination local time as soon as you get on the plane – or first flight if you have to connect a bit like I did. Reset your watch, phone, laptop, everything. And when you get there, either try to stay up until bed time-ish or take a (keyword:) short power nap when you get to your final destination.
- Sleep – Part of the above for international travel or even Vancouver to Toronto is sleep. It’s hard, but try. I broke down and bought a neck pillow for this trip and I got over the fact that it’s enormous pretty quickly when I had the best plane sleep ever on the way to Edinburgh from Chicago. It was a short sleep, but my neck didn’t hurt afterwards.
- Stretch and Move Around – Pre, during (especially after sleeping), and post-flight; to stimulate your body’s circulation and to help you feel less bent and creaky post-flight from being cooped up in the plane. The walk between connecting flights always feels amazing for me and the customs lineup is the best place to do some small neck and shoulder rolls, and some standing quad stretches – might as well be productive while waiting in the long line ups. Just be aware of your space. 😉 Because I loved the wording and diagrams so much, I have included a screen shot of KLM’s “Fit for Flying” page that they have in their in-flight magazine, the Holland Herald. I love in-flight magazines, and the HH September issue is actually really great. Check it out here.
- Snacks – Most airlines provide meals for international or very long distance travel, and the meals are timed to where you are heading. But your stomach doesn’t know that. Try to remember to pack some
munchies in your carry-on; the airport shops tend to be expensive and not have the most healthy of options. The Green Food bars that I love from Whole Foods were on sale before I left, so I bought a bunch of those. Whatever works for you.
- Upgrade – This is something I have not had the luxury of being able to do in terms of Business or First Class, but the extra bit of overall space and leg room in Economy Plus or its equivalent is always wonderful and generally around $50-100 at the airport, depending on the airline. You can also upgrade if you are doing web check in. Depending on the airline and your status with them, it’s free or a minimal fee. Totally worth the expense for international travel. You will sleep better, I promise.
- Be Nice to Yourself – Jet lag is inevitable. Just do what you can to make it a better situation for yourself.
For other great tips, click here.