How to avoid jet lag

Learn how to avoid jet lag and other discomforts of international travel. This handy guide will keep you healthy, well-rested and refreshed for whenever you land at your faraway destination.


1. Sleep on the plane

Download a guided night time meditation, wear comfy, sleep-worthy clothes and opt for an overnight flight next time you’re jetting off to another continent. Taking a sleeping pill may help you drift off after dark so whenever you wake up to your new destination, you’ll be more refreshed and ready for the day. If you’re unable to take a flight overnight, depending on the time of your destination, you may want to instead curb napping and try to stay awake, especially if you’re landing during the evening.


2. Drink lots of water

Traveling can be hard on your body, especially if you aren’t treating it right. Make sure to keep hydrated while you’re traveling internationally by drinking eight ounces of water for each hour in the air. It may be a good idea to bring an empty water bottle on board and ask your flight attendant to fill it for you. Also don’t forget lotion and chapstick. You’ll have a more comfortable, hydrated flight and feel much better once you land in your new destination.


3. Bring comfortable clothing for your flight

Looking classy at the airport is overrated. When you’re flying internationally, opt for comfort over style (although there are plenty of ways you can do both). Pick breathable, soft fabrics, wear layers and bring a scarf you can use to shield yourself from light and sounds.


How to avoid jet lag


4. Prepare your internal clock ahead of time to smooth the transition

Google the time difference of your up-and-coming destination and try to adjust your internal clock to your new destination gradually over the course of a few days. Go to sleep a little earlier (or later) each day so when the time does change, it won’t be as jarring of a transition to your body. Also make sure to change the time on your watch and phone to your destination time as soon as you board your plane.


5. Try not to sleep again until evening wherever you land

Even if you’re exhausted, try and push yourself not to fall asleep until it’s night time in your new destination. Your body will have a hard enough time trying to fall asleep at an odd hour, if you’ve already rested up during nap time, you could be up for hours.


6. Wake yourself up with a walk

Nature has a funny way of getting us on the right track. Instead of covering up the blinds because your body is telling you it’s still night time, wake up during the local morning time and force yourself to take a brisk walk around your neighborhood. The natural morning light will help wake you up, plus exploring the area will activate your mind and curiosity.


How to avoid jet lag


7. Be careful with sleeping pills

For long, overnight flights, sleeping pills can be useful to ensure a good night’s sleep as airplanes can often be uncomfortable sleeping spots. That being said, a flight should not be the first time to try out a sleeping pill. You should know how your body reacts to the pill before taking it on the plane. Also, if your flight isn’t long enough for a full night’s sleep, taking a pill might make for an unpleasant arrival, as you’ll be extremely tired and groggy.



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1. based on sleepingontheplane, by stereogab, CC-by-SA 2.0

2. based on IMG_6175, by Mark van Seeters, CC-by-2.0

3. based on In transition, by Monika, CC-by-SA 2.0


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Elizabeth Trovall

After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her fourth year in Santiago, Chile. Elizabeth writes about international internships, life abroad and professional development for The Intern Group. She also reports on politics, business and culture in Latin America for public radio and print media. An Austin, Texas native, Elizabeth first left home to earn her journalism degree from the Reynolds Institute of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Besides her friends and family, she misses live music and Mexican food the most.
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