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6 Ways to Give Jet Lag the Boot

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by Annette Ramsland (subscribe)
A freelance writer living with my family in glorious Newcastle. I love up-cycling, re-cycling and if I'm desperate, bi-cycling.
Published November 26th 2012
Don't ruin your once in a lifetime holiday by feeling seedy
It's horrible arriving at your favourite destination and suffering for the first few days with a large dose of jet lag. Even coming home, those first few days should be spent bragging to the friends about the good times, not sleeping it off in a dimly lit room. That's why I have included a few tips for avoiding such a malaise. Put to test on a recent trip to San Francisco, I can vouch that these tips are winners.

1. Not just water... think mega hydration

Bladder beware

Want to know the biggest cause of feeling crappy after a long flight? It's dehydration.

However, if you are like me, airplane travel isn't airplane travel without a little white wine in those plastic cups. Have you written this pleasure out of your equation though, due to all the naysayers claiming that alcohol dehydrates? They are of course completely right, but what if you were able to combat that with some mega-hydration? It's nigh impossible to drink 20 glasses of water to hydrate enough for an overseas trip, but try taking something like Hydralyte as well, or some other rehydrating formula (these are available at the chemist and are often made to rehydrate people who have had gastro or similar, but will often mention travel as a cause for use). These rehydrating products are more effective than just drinking water, so you won't have an exploding bladder at the end of it all. Remember, that sometimes a little wine can help you sleep, which is very welcome on a stuffy economy flight. However, a little wine has to be just that - a little! Go overboard at your own peril.

2. Set your watch to your destination's time
From the time you leave your country to the time you arrive, you want to have adjusted to the new time zone, so if you can figure in sleep according to your destination's clock then you are half way there in the battle. For example, if you are leaving in the morning here and arriving in the morning there, you want to figure in a fairly good whack of sleep on the flight just before you arrive there, so you have energy to stay up that day.

Set your watch for your holiday destination time

3. Don't go to bed
Okay so this is the no-brainer that everyone tells you, but if you've had an horrendous mammoth flight, sometimes it's almost impossible to not give in to the snooze. That's okay - if you must have a sleep, go for a long walk and aim for a little sleep at 2pm (destination time). Think of it as an afternoon nap. Whatever you do, make sure you set your alarm for 3pm or at the very latest 4pm, but do get up, shower, slap yourself, get yourself to Starbucks or a local equivalent for a bucket of coffee, do whatever it takes to wake up. Then go for another walk. Follow this routine when you arrive and you will find that you are in the swing of things by the second day.

4. Take tea with the locals
It may be obvious but instead of stressing about all the meals you had on the plane, if it's time for breakfast where you arrive, have breakfast! Taking meals according to local time can really help your body clock adjust quickly too. Try to avoid snacks that will disrupt this and if you need that little afternoon sleep and have the bucket of coffee afterwards, make sure you still have dinner at a good time that night. If you are in Europe, you won't be alone, because they often have afternoon sleeps too and dine into the late hours.

Even if you feel like weet-bix, eat dinner when the locals do

5. Try to get overnight flights.
Perhaps this is a personal favourite but I find that if you get on the plane late, say around 10pm, the excitement of it all will keep you wide awake for hours which starts to readjust your time clock in itself. Then when you eventually sleep, it's often good timing for a fresh arrival.

Walkies please!

6. Get healthy before you go
Nasty but true, if you are healthy and have been exercising, you are better placed for not getting whacked with jet lag. So get to the gym or get the ol' dog leash out and walk. Think of how wonderful you'll feel on holidays too. Remember to do lots of walking tours when you're there at your destination too.
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Why? Because jet lag robs us of precious holiday hours
When: Whenever you have a long flight
Cost: Free
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