Whether you are travelling abroad for business or pleasure, follow these tips from seasoned travellers to make sure you feel as fit and healthy as possible, before and after a long flight:
1) See the Doctor: If you have any long-standing conditions, then do get medical advice before you travel.
2) Get fit before you go: Physical stamina makes a huge difference to coping with the strain that adjusting to a different time zone can put on our bodies. Jogging, hiking, rowing and climbing are great ways to build up your stamina. So, get down the gym or head off on some long walks.
3) Adjust your body clock ahead of your travels: Move your daily routine ahead or behind by a few hours in the days before you travel, this will make it easier to adjust to your new time zone.
4) Get some help with sleeping at ‘odd’ hours when you are away: Pack some herbal sleep aids, or mild sleeping pills, to help you to sleep at the right times when you get to your destination. Anti-histamine tablets (obviously not the ‘non-drowsy’ ones) are often prescribed by doctors as sleep aids and they are surprisingly effective. There are also a lot of natural sleep aids on the market using lavender, camomile and hops. Eye-masks and earplugs are also a big help.
5) Take it easy: Don’t push your body clock to instantly convert to a new time-zone. Put off any strenuous activities, such as extended sightseeing until the second day of your visit. If it’s a business trip, can you wangle an extra day before your meeting or conference to allow yourself time to adjust?
6) A simple tip for when you book your flight: If you’re flying east, set off as early as possible, if you’re heading west, then try and travel later in the day. This keeps you a little closer to your natural hours, easing you into your new time zone.
7) Avoid caffeine and alcohol, drink water instead: It’s so tempting to down a cup of coffee to wake yourself up after an early start and many of us celebrate the start of our holidays by having a drink on the plane, but these are both bad ideas. Caffeine and alcohol cause dehydration, which in turn can disrupt sleep, so drink plenty of water instead.
8 ) Get up and move around on the plane: This has two benefits – firstly it reduces the risk of bloodclots and secondly, it simply keeps your body refreshed and awake. If you desperately feel the need to sleep on the plane, then try and limit it to quick naps.
9) When in Rome, do as the Romans do: In other words, even if you arrive at 9am all ready for your evening meal after a full day travelling, go and have a light breakfast instead. Adjust to the local customs as quickly as possible and you will feel a lot better – and you will cope with the time difference much better.
10) And when you’re back home, do the same thing: It might be tempting to snuggle down in bed all day after an overnight flight – but don’t do it! It could take days to get back to your normal hours. Go and have a nap, setting your alarm to wake you up in a couple of hours’ time.
We hope these tips help you on your travels. If you’ve got any sure fire jet lag busters, please share them with us in the comments.