Going on a trip overseas is an exhilarating experience. By jetting off to a new place and taking a break from your daily routine, you have the chance to explore a different culture, indulge in exotic food, and marvel at stunning landmarks and works of art. Simply put, traveling exposes you to thrilling experiences that you never would have known about within the comfort and familiarity of your neighborhood.
As with all things in life, though, the excitement of traveling comes with a price—and we’re not just talking about the stress of unpacking and finding your way around an unfamiliar city. For plenty of travelers, jet lag is a major obstacle that can take the joy out of going on vacation. After all, there’s nothing quite as disorienting as being ready to go to sleep while all the locals are enjoying their lunch.
If you struggle with jet lag whenever you head off to a foreign land, you’re probably wondering what you can do to cope with it better. Fortunately, we’re here to tell you everything you’ve been doing wrong when fighting jet lag and what you can do to fix it. Here are 8 of the most common mistakes people make when dealing with the dreaded symptoms of jet lag.
- Loading Up on Caffeine
If you find it difficult to do just about anything without your caffeine fix, you probably head straight for the coffee machine before going to the airport. However, this strategy may end up backfiring on you. By loading up on coffee, you might have trouble sleeping on the plane, which can increase the severity of your jet lag once you reach your destination. It’s best to avoid caffeine altogether on the day of your flight to ensure that you get plenty of rest while on board.
- Not Letting Yourself Adjust
Jet lag is your body’s way of telling you that it’s disoriented and needs time to adjust to its new surroundings. Therefore, the worst thing you can do after landing in an unfamiliar country is rush from one task to the next. Instead, think of the first few hours of your trip as the adjustment period and take it easy while you acclimate. If you’re on a business trip, it may be tempting to immediately head into a meeting after the plane lands, but this will only hurt you in the end. Letting yourself rest for a bit ultimately makes jet lag easier to deal with.
- Not Getting Enough Exercise Before the Trip
If you’ve ever spent a lazy day at home, you might remember that you had trouble sleeping that night. Without enough physical and mental exertion, your body doesn’t feel ready to fall into a deep sleep come nighttime. That’s why it’s crucial to prepare for a big trip by getting enough exercise in the days leading up to the journey. Instead of spending your pre-trip days sitting on the couch and watching TV, make the effort to get active. You’ll be grateful once you have an easier time getting some shut-eye in your hotel room.
- Giving Into Sleep Too Early
It takes an admirable amount of effort not to sink under the covers when you finally arrive at your hotel room. After hours of being trapped in a metal tube, who can blame you? However, there’s a small problem with giving into the desire to sleep in the middle of the day. By letting yourself rest when you feel like it rather than when you’re supposed to, it becomes significantly more difficult to get some shut-eye during traditional sleeping hours. As challenging as it may seem, try to spend the first day of your trip as you would any other day. This way, you can successfully trick your body into thinking you’re in your usual time zone.
- Staying Indoors
On the same note of sleeping before you’re supposed to, it’s important not to spend the entire first day of your trip inside your hotel. Your circadian rhythms are already thrown off when you travel, and your body relies on natural signals from the sun to regulate these rhythms again. This means it’s best to spend as much time outside as you can when you first arrive at your destination to beat the symptoms of jet lag.
- Not Drinking Enough Water
Believe it or not, dehydration can worsen the symptoms of jet lag. In addition to drinking enough water before the flight, make sure you stay hydrated while on board and once you arrive at your destination. Drinking plenty of fluids also helps you feel better and more alert in general, which can make it easier for you to cope with the disorientation of jet lag.
- Not Using a Sleep Mask
If you have trouble sleeping on planes, you’re far from alone. However, there are many simple methods that you can use to get better quality sleep while in flight. One of the most invaluable tools that you can make use of during your flight is the best sleep mask. This lightweight and convenient accessory will help block out light coming from the windows or aisle and help you feel as if you’re sleeping in your own bedroom.
- Not Giving Yourself Time
While you can use a few helpful tips here and there to make jet lag easier on yourself, the reality is that your body needs time to adjust to a new time zone. Some research has suggested that it takes the average person one day per time zone to get acclimated to a new environment. With this in mind, give yourself permission to get used to a drastic change in time at your own pace.
Making the Most of Your Trip Overseas
Travel is an extremely rewarding experience, and you shouldn’t let jet lag ruin the journey for you. The next time you’re preparing for a trip to a different country, keep these guidelines in mind to make the best of the experience. You’ll be able to have a much more enjoyable time when your body has the chance to fully adjust to a different time zone.