I've talked before about some of the biggest travel misconceptions that I hear about and experience, but out of all of them, jet lag has to be one of my least favorites. Talk to any traveler and jet lag will be at the top of their list for things they hate about flying and traveling. It goes against our nature to change time zones, to be so tired and sleep deprived and starved for fresh air that you just feel gross when you emerge from a long haul flight. Over the years however, I've figured out little tricks to help balance jet lag and while it's still always going to be there, you can at least help recover faster than you would without doing anything. And before I go, let me just say I have been totally overtaken by jet lag more times than I care to count and yes that is me sleeping on an airport floor in the photo above en route to Rome a few years ago after numerous canceled flights and such. So with that said, I've been there. I've been so tired traveling that you can literally no longer keep your eyes open, but with only a week to experience a new place, often we have to find ways to combat jet lag quickly so that we can make the most of our trip and here are some of the tips I've picked over the years that help me get over jet lag quicker now than I used to.
Have a time zone plan.
Before leaving on your trip, take a look at the difference you'll be encountering in time zones. If you're leaving at night and arriving to your destination in their morning, then make sure to try to sleep on the plane (or use sleep aids like Melatonin below) so that you'll be somewhat on the right time zone. If you'll be arriving mid-day, then wake yourself up on the plane during morning time at your destination so you start getting on time zone while you're still on the plane.
Don't nap when you get to your destination.
It's important to not get to your destination and lay down for a nap right away. Particularly if you're landing in the morning or mid-day at your destination, plan to be out and about when you get in. Walking around the city or taking in the place you're at can help you stay awake for a while and you'll get fresh air while you're at it. Many people want to get in and nap right away and that's a mistake, you want to acclimate yourself to the local time as soon as you can and that means trying to stay awake for at least a few hours after you arrive.
Drink lots of water and eat hearty food when you arrive.
It's really important, while you're out and about the first day you arrive, to drink lots of water/fluids and eat hearty foods to get your body going again after a long flight. I usually head straight for a meal when I arrive somewhere to replenish my body. Eating will also get your metabolism going and help keep you awake for a few hours.
Take Melatonin to get through the night.
If you have trouble sleeping on the correct time zone the first few nights at your destination, I'm a big fan of Melatonin for a sleep aid. It's readily available in the stores as a supplement and will help you fall asleep fast. It's great to get a full night's sleep the first night you arrive as that will help you beat jet lag really quickly and get you on your local time zone.