Beating Jetlag

Ready to Fly!
Getting Ready to Fly!

Are you planning a trip to Europe?  One of your biggest concerns may be how to deal with jetlag.  Following these tricks will make it all but disappear.

I find it much more important to be awake and energetic when I arrive at my destination, than when I get home – and to me, it is much easier.  I have little trouble with jetlag when I get to Europe, but it takes me a week to get back to normal after I arrive home.

Waiting to Take-Off
Waiting to Take-Off

Flying for eight or more hours is physically exhausting.  For a couple of days before your flight, eat healthy meals – avoid greasy fried foods, sugary snacks and alcohol; minimize caffeine.  Drink plenty of water.

Going to bed earlier than usual along with getting up early can help reset your body clock.  Move your bedtime 30 to 60 minutes earlier each day.  I am a night person, so I struggle with this technique, but when I have managed to follow it, it has helped.

In the Air
In the Air

Bring a water bottle with you to the airport.  You will not be able to bring water through security, so you will have to empty it.  You can refill it after you are through security.  The air on the plane is usually dry, so having a water bottle will help keep you hydrated.

I like to dress in comfortable layers, and bring a large pashmina (scarf).  I can use the scarf as a blanket or bunch it up for a pillow.  There is usually a blanket and pillow on the seat of the plane, but I am more comfortable with my own.

Flying Over the Alps
Flying Over the Alps

The best idea is to try to sleep on the plane.  A neck pillow, a sleep mask and noise cancelling head phones are items that can make it easier for you to get some sleep.    Even if you are only able to sleep for a short time, it will be better than no sleep at all.

Many flights to Europe leave in the evening and fly through the night.  If you leave Chicago at 6 PM, for example, you will arrive in Paris around 9:30 in the morning.  Unfortunately though, it will feel like 2:30 AM.  The trick? – set your watch on European time before your plane even takes off.  Your mind and body will start to believe you.

Patchwork Villages against Backdrop of the Dolomites
Patchwork Villages against Backdrop of the Dolomites

You will probably be served dinner and breakfast on the plane.  Tell the flight attendant that you would like to sleep in between the two meals, rather than be woken for a snack.  Also, tell the person sitting next to you that you will be sleeping.  If they continue to talk, use the headphones and eye mask – eventually they will get it.

If your body is used to alcohol and caffeine, you can have a glass of wine with dinner and a cup of coffee or tea with breakfast.  Alcohol and caffeine are diuretics so expect to have to use the bathroom more frequently.  Be sure to  continue to  drink water to avoid dehydration.

When you finally arrive at your destination, you will experience a burst of energy because of being freed from the enclosed space.  Use this energy to retrieve your checked luggage, find a taxi or public transportation and then check into your hotel or apartment.

Landing at Frankfurt, Germany Airport
Landing at Frankfurt, Germany Airport

Resist the urge to try out the bed, but feel free to use the shower if you’d like.  By the time you are settled in, it will be nearly lunch time, locally.  Find a café or bistro and enjoy lunch.  Again, drink water with your meal.  Even a small amount of dehydration can cause headaches and fatigue.

For your first afternoon, keep your activities light but physical.  A walking tour of the area or a visit to an interesting museum is a great idea. Avoid strenuous or relaxing activities – either one could be a problem.  Our family tried a boat tour on the Rhine River our first day in Germany – it turned out to be a great place for a nap.

Taxiing to the Terminal
Taxiing to the Terminal

You will probably be tired, so allow yourself an early dinner, even if that is not the custom in the country you are visiting.  Keep it light, so you will be able to sleep well.  Go to bed no earlier that 8 PM.

Close the window shades and set your alarm for when you want to get up.  You body will recognize that it should sleep when it is dark, so you will be less likely to wake up in the middle of the night.

When you wake up the next morning, you should feel refreshed and ready to start the rest of your vacation.  Your body clock should be reset, so you can fully enjoy your time in Europe.  Are you getting excited?

 

 

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