You’ve finally managed to wrangle some time off work, planned your trip meticulously, and even managed to snag those all-elusive international flight deals to get you to your #1 bucket list destination. Sounds like you’re good to go…but wait; what about the jet lag? Dealing with, and successfully overcoming, fatigue caused by jet lag can determine how soon you can start enjoying your holiday after a grueling long-haul flight. You wouldn’t want to miss out on even one day of your precious vacation days because you laid down for a nap but ended up sleeping for 12 hours straight, right? But, it can happen. Knowing what to do before, during, and after your flight can help you mitigate the time-stealing effects of jet lag. Follow these tips on how to overcome jet lag and you’ll be on your way to seizing every hour of your well-deserved holiday!


Get some good rest before your flight

 How to overcome jet lag: Photo of sleeping young woman lies in bed with eyes closed

If you’re one of those last-minute packers who stays up all night packing and then rushes into your boarding gate just minutes before closing, you need to plan a little bit better if you’re going to have a chance at beating jet lag. So whether you’re an over-excited traveler who just can’t get any shut-eye before vacay time or just bad at planning your day/night, you need to find a way to relax and get some good sleep. If packing is usually a prelude to panicking, make sure to start making a list days ahead and start packing in small chunks. Of course, there are tons of great tips to help you do this efficiently and quickly. If your adrenaline is flowing out of excitement for your trip , then it’s best to find your own way of relaxing and getting some sleep; so if that means lighting some scented candles, yoga, or listening to some Mozart — just do it!

Try and adjust your routine before you leave

A little bit of shifting around in your day-to-day schedule can go a long way in making sure you are more in sync when you arrive at your destination. If your international flight is taking you toward the east, then try going to sleep an hour earlier than normal for the week before your trip. Conversely, if you’re traveling toward the west, make sure to go to sleep an hour later. You can also move your meal times closer to when you’ll be having them at your destination, and while this may create some interesting situations (like having a super late midnight dinner) you’ll be thankful you got a step ahead of those tiring timezone differences.

Book a trip with a layover

How to overcome jet lag: Couple of tourists with their little cute son is exploring new city together

When most people look for cheap round trip flights for their international vacation, the shortest possible layover is always the first choice. However, a lot of people prefer to do a direct flight with no stops (especially from the U.S. East Coast to Europe). But if your trip is taking you really FAR across several time-zones, a stopover at a mid point might help your internal clock reset itself gradually. The rule is that the more time zones you cross, the more severe the jet lag. Plus, a layover can give you the option of squeezing in a mini holiday within a holiday, by giving you some time to explore a new city.

You may also like: Turn That Dreadful Layover into an Added Adventure to Your Trip!

Reset your clock

Just before boarding your flight, make sure to set your watch or mobile phone clock to the time at your final destination. Taking this simple step can help you monitor your eating and sleeping habits on the flight and shift them to slowly sync up with your destination time. Plus, being able to look over and check the time will also get you mentally prepared for the change in time.


Stay hydrated

How to overcome jet lag: Portrait of smiling flight attendant serving glass of water to handsome businessman

Having enough H2O in your system is crucial in fighting fatigue and dehydration on a flight. The high altitude of your flight in combination with the low cabin humidity levels (about two to three times lower than levels on the ground) can dry up your airways, which then fail to catch disease-causing germs. So, drinking lots of water can help boost your immune system as well. But how much is a good amount to stay adequately hydrated? According to the Aerospace Medical Association, you should make sure to drink at least 8 ounces of water for every hour of your flight.

Go easy on the alcohol

While a lot of international flights might offer you free drinks, it’s probably a good idea to not get too carried away in imbibing. Alcohol can dehydrate you faster than you’d think because it makes you go to the toilet a lot more frequently. If you find those drinks cart offerings too tempting to resist, at least offset each drink with a big cup of water. Another good reason to control your alcohol intake is you don’t want to end up at your destination with a mild hangover, which can make your jet lag a whole lot worse!

Keep moving around

How to overcome jet lag: Asian woman passenger doing some stretching exercises in her seat

Having continuous blood circulation in your body during your flight can make a world of a difference when you touch down at your destination. It’s also important to keep moving around during your flight in order to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or the formation of dangerous blood clots in your veins. The more light stretching exercises you do for your arms and legs in addition to frequent walks around the cabin, the better your circulation will be, which in turn gives you a better chance of preventing DVT. A lack of good circulation is one of the main causes your body feels weak and lethargic when suffering from jet lag, so make sure to stay active over the hours of your flight.


Get some controlled sleep at your destination

How to overcome jet lag: attractive smiling man and woman traveling together, wearing sunglasses

Once you’ve landed, make sure to try and get as much “normal” sleep time in the first day there as you would usually. This might be a bit challenging, but, as recommended by the World Health Organization, make sure to get at least 4 hours of sleep during the local night; this “anchor sleep” as it’s called is important in resetting your body’s internal clock to sync up with your new surroundings. If you do need some extra sleep, find a quiet, relaxing environment to take a short nap during the day; just set your alarm so you don’t end up sleeping through the day!

Regulate your exposure to light

The amount of sunshine you are exposed to in your destination could help speed up your adaptation to your new locale. The timing of when you are exposed to sunlight is crucial. If you’ve traveled toward the west, then try avoiding too much exposure in the morning by wearing sunglasses and gradually let your eyes get more as the evening draws near. If you’re flying toward the east, then get as much sunlight on your eyes during the morning and avoid too much in the evening. Doing this can help you overcome jet lag and get you more settled in to enjoy your holiday.

Got any other tips to overcome jet lag after flying international? Share them with us in the comments!

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Socialite, philanthropist, costumed crime fighter by wait...that's bad ... Musician, writer, travel junkie, dog lover, and database of useless information. I love to learn about new cultures, experience new cuisines, meet new people, and have a few laughs along the way!