Beating Jet Lag

Jet lag sucks. It does…and it’s difficult to avoid but there are ways that I have found to make it a little easier-sometimes. Jet lag also comes down to where you go or better yet which direction you fly in my opinion. For instance, when I fly east from New York to Europe I get it the worst but there are steps to take in order to avoid it or at least minimize it as best you can.

Transatlantic flights generally leave in the morning or the evening (after 6pm) from New York. I always prefer the night flights because then I don’t feel like I’ve wasted a day as you would land at night after a 6 hour flight. I like to either take the earliest night flight to London for instance at 6pm. This means you land at 6am and then I go to sleep immediately for a few hours and wake up in the early afternoon and then make myself stay up the rest of the day and that usually does it for me. It’s that simple for me to beat jet lag in Europe. Granted I have flown that route at least 30 times but it works to other European cities as well.

I am not the best plane sleeper; especially if I am flying economy so I don’t necessarily like the late night flight that would get the same route into London at like noonish. This means you are forced to stay up the whole day and if you didn’t sleep on the plane then you’ll be miserable for a few days.

For me, going to Asia is no problem with jet lag, I don’t really get it badly going west for some reason. I usually try to plan my arrival from the US at night in the Asian city I am flying into so I can just go to sleep and then be on schedule the next day. I recently did this flying to Ulaanbaatar and had no problems.

However, coming back from Asia I still haven’t mastered which is why I usually try to do some type of round the world ticket continuing through Europe if possible. This makes for a nice stopover or three and helps me with my recovery.

As for drugs, some people take things but I do not. I don’t like forcing myself to sleep ever, let alone at 37,000 feet sitting next to people I don’t know. I have tried Tylenol PM and I nearly had a panic attack because if you can’t sleep then you’re absolutely miserable. I can generally get a few hours of crappy plane sleep-you know where you’re not really asleep but you kind of are-that does the trick and is better than nothing.

Besides, the only time I ever get to watch movies is on the plane so I like to do that assuming they don’t show crap like the US carriers or Air China does. That doesn’t even take into account if the plane doesn’t have an entertainment system which is the ultimate nightmare.

Anyway, my friend recently went to Europe for Labor Day weekend and was complaining that the jet lag kind of screwed up her short trip so I said I would write a little jet lag post. If anyone else has some jet lag advice please feel free to share as we all need some help with it.

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  1. I go to Latin America very often from Los Angeles and I have to leave a few days early spending a weekend in the city I have a meeting before I am OK. It can be frustrating but it is better than not going.

  2. I just knock myself out with drugs, LOL

  3. The key I find is as you said, try to time the flight that either lands at bedtime or late enough where you could sleep through the night and not miss the next day. That’s how you get screwed up. I can’t sleep on planes either.

  4. Funny enough, I never have jet leg, I guess I’m just too excited to get my trip going to worry about being tired.

    I actually just ran across an article in Men’s Journal with some experienced travelers on how they handle jetleg and all that.

  5. I agree with Ryan, I am so excited I don’t have time to be tired. I only get 3 weeks vacation a year and I will not waste an instant. I will sleep when I’m dead!

  6. Matthew, that’s really nice that your company let’s you go early and pays for your hotel etc. My company, as cheap as they are, would never allow that. I need a new job…can I just travel and be paid for it?

  7. I just pop large amounts of pills and hope for the best!

  8. To avoid jet lag, do what I do…don’t go anywhere. Its not bc I don’t want to, its because I’m broke as a joke!

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