how to deal with jet lag

How to deal with jet lag + my travel essentials

I am back in cold and rainy Germany after six wonderful days of vacation in the Caribbean. The time difference between my hometown and the Dominican Republic was five hours. My return flight was during the night and landed early in the morning in Berlin Tegel. The the next night I was already working again. Many of you wondered how I deal with jet lag during my journeys. In this blog post, I want to share my experiences over the years and give you a list of travel essentials to fly more comfortable.

Thumbs up - next trip you will deal better with a jetlag

How to deal with jet lag

One of the best ways to mitigate the effects a tiring long flight is to fly a higher booking class. Most operators offer seats which fully convert into a flat bed to have a good rest arriving refreshed. Unfortunately, the ticket prices are not always easily affordable compared to the costs of international economy tickets. Over the last years, most major airlines introduced a premium economy class which gives more space and extra amenities for a decent surcharge.

Lie flat bed in Lufthansa Business Class, Seat 3A A340-600

Besides a comfortable seat, there are many other things you can do to mitigate the intensity of a jet lag. When booking your ticket reserve a seat right away so you will not end up squeezed up in the middle seat. The website seat guru helps to find good seats. Via the flight search function, the system will show the cabin layout of your aircraft. I generally can recommend booking a seat at the window, so you do not need to stand up for everyone, the traffic of the aisle does not bother you and you are in control of the window blind.

Stay hydrated during the flight. Since the cabin air is quite dry you should drink about 230 ml still water or juice. Try to refrain from drinking alcohol. Maybe a glass of wine during the meal helps to fall asleep easier.

It is really important that you move enough during the flight. Do exercises on the way to the lavatory or even in your seat which eliminate the risk of thrombosis as well. The inflight entertainment of most airlines show exercises you can do during the flight.

travel essential amenity kit long range flight
My travel essentials for a long range flight

My travel essentials:

  • Take hand disinfection gel. Airplanes are dirty, after using the lavatory I clean my hands with hand disinfection. You can buy them at convenience stores or online here.
  • Wear thick socks. So you can take off your shoes and your feet stay warm
  • Take your own small pillow. I think the innovative pillow of POCKINDO® could be an awesome travel gadget.
  • Use noise canceling headphones. This is a must for every frequent traveler. They make traveling a lot more comfortable. You feel like in your own little word without hearing the outside noise. I use the in ear Bose Noise Cancelling headphones.
  • Use ear plugs by OHROPAX are the best. Due to the waxy material, they adjust perfectly to your ear shape.
  • Take a sleeping mask which is comfortable to wear
  • Wear sweatpants during the flight. I have them in my hand luggage and I change after take off.
  • Take your toothbrush. It can feel so refreshing to brush the teeth prior approach.
  • Use a lavera lip balm to work against the dry air in the airplane.
  • A power bar in case you do not have a power outlet on your seat. I use an Anker product which is great.

What's in my suitcase?

What to do when the jet lag hits you?

Flying eastbound can be quite challenging since the flight usually takes place during the night and you land at your destination in the morning. Maybe you did not sleep a single bit and now the whole day lays in front of you. If your schedule permits I would go to bed now and sleep for a couple of hours. Set an alarm to wake up around lunch time. Have something to eat and motivate yourself to be active. A short body exercise can help to wake up.

pilot patrick running in a gym
Exercising helps to wake up mentally and physically

In general, if you get really tired during the day I can recommend taking a NASA power nap of 26 mins. A study of NASA in 1995 found about that a “26-minute nap improves performance by 34% and alertness by 54%.” A great tool that not only works at home but also on a journey. Set your timer to 26 minutes find a comfortable place, turn on non-disturb on your phone and close your eyes. Restricting the nap to 26 mins I feel more alert and energetic over the next few hours.  Try it out and let me know how you felt after a power nap. Napping longer might have the effect that you feel more tired afterward.

Jet lag - behavioral recommendations

  • Set your watch to the time of your destination, so you can mentally adjust to the new time
  • Participate in the daily life of your destination
  • Spend time outside at your destination
  • Try to get enough sleep during the first night of your arrival
  • Try to avoid exhausting activities the first two days
  • No alcohol or sleeping pills
  • Drink enough water (still water or juices 230 ml per flight hour)
  • Keep a light and healthy diet (this is not proven but it will not hurt)
  • During short trips remain in the time of departure so you do not have a double jetlag.
pilot patrick travel style
Outfit as passenger

Visit www.updressed.com/pilotpatric to find out details of my style and the brands I am wearing. 

The body adjust approximately 1,5 hours every day. This means it takes about six days to adjust to the new time when the spread between departure and destination is nine hours.

A lot of times travelers suffer from respiratory ailments: cold and fever like symptoms after a long flight. During my research for this blog post I visited the website "Zentrum der Gesundheit" (unfortunately only in german) and I found an interesting article about colds after flight journeys. A study of the Griffith`s Menzies Health Institute Queensland (MHIQ)  found out that taking elder (capsules or syrup) is a preventive measure to stay healthy after the flight! I have found myself being sick for a day or having fever like symptoms after a long flight. For my next long range trip, I will definitely test this out.

What was your longest non-stop flight you have been on so far?

Your Pilot Patrick

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