10 Tips For Reducing Jet Lag

There was once a time when travel meant trying our best to save as much money as possible, by whatever means were available. This meant finding the cheapest flights, within reason. However the problem with cheaper flights is they often fly at times that are less than ideal and I learnt the hard way following my first long haul flight just how horrendous jet lag can be.

vietnam airlines

My first long haul was from Australia to Paris, with a stop over of around 6 hours in Malaysia. We left Australia around midday and arrived in Paris early in the morning. This meant spending an entire day in Paris completely exhausted and trying to function when we would normally be sleeping.

My first 2 days in Paris are somewhat of a blur and sadly, I can admit to falling asleep on a Seine river cruise on our second night… and very nearly falling asleep during my dinner on the first night. My husband still raves about the amazing Creme Brulee that I have absolutely no recollection of unfortunately. It was an effort to function at all those first couple of days and beyond.

These days I will choose flights carefully and it is one area I am willing to spend a little more on when it comes to overseas travel. Not only for safety and peace of mind, choosing an airline that is quality, but also for reducing the effects of jet lag.


Tips For Reducing Jet Lag

1. Arrive Later

This is the first tip for a reason. It’s also the best. Time your long haul flights to arrive at your final destination later in the day. At least after lunch is ideal, with afternoon arrivals being perfect. This gives you time to process through customs and baggage claim and get to your accommodation while there is still some daylight left. Then you can check yourself in, get some dinner and wind down for the night, encouraging your body to adapt to the new time zone quickly. This change alone pretty much eliminates my jet lag these days.

2. Attempt Sleep

While you are on the plane, try to get some sleep. Often flights leaving from Australia to the other side of the world end up being red-eye flights anyway, but even if that isn’t the case from where you are flying from, make sure you get some rest on the plane. This can be tricky so consider taking things to help such as ear plugs and wearing comfortable clothing.

plane bassinet
On plane bassinet – Singapore Airlines

3. Keep Up Fluids

This tip is helpful for travel in general, but make sure you remain hydrated throughout your flights, before and after. Dehydration will only make your jet lag symptoms far worse so drink plenty of water. Avoid the booze, even if it is tempting to get a little happy with the free alcohol most international flights provide. Also cut down on coffee.

4. Comfortable Clothing

Wear loose, comfortable clothing while travelling. Fluid retention is fairly common when flying, so avoid cutting off circulation with tight clothes and shoes.

5. Exercise

No need to run laps up and down the plane aisles. Chances are the staff won’t be happy with this, however do be mindful of being active during your flight. Stretch your legs and make circles with your feet, stand up, walk around when the no seatbelt sign is not on. Most large planes will have an area where you can make your own drinks and possibly get snacks. It’s a good option to take a few walks and spend some time upright and out of your chair during the flight to reduce the chance of fluid retention and swelling, and to help prevent those aches and pains from sitting in an uncomfortable chair too long.

6. Eat Well

Make sure you satisfy your stomach with some hearty meals during your flight. Aeroplane food has often been a bit of a joke, along with hospital food but in actual fact these days most of it is pretty good and there are relatively healthy options available. Don’t forget to request special dietary requirements if needed.

airport pho
A bowl of Pho at Hanoi airport

7. Stop Over

If you are doing a long haul flight that stops over somewhere at the halfway point or thereabouts, consider making this an overnight stop over instead of just a few hours. This gives your body a bit of a break from the discomfort of flying, and can help the body adjust more gradually to the time differences of different countries. It can also be very helpful if travelling with children who struggle with those long flights.

8. Adjust Your Body Clock

If your work/life permits, you can start adjusting your body clock for your destination before you leave, by altering your bedtime and wake up time to be earlier or later for a few days before you leave. This makes the time zone change less of a shock to the body than it would otherwise be.

9. Sunlight

Once you do arrive at your destination, be sure to spend plenty of time in those first few days out in the sunlight to help your body adjust to the different time zone. It will help reset your body’s natural clock quicker. Many international airports have an outdoor area, so make use of these areas during your stopovers as well. Fresh air and vitamin D does wonders!

changi airport
Sunflower garden at Changi Airport

10. Avoid Naps

Unless you typically nap every day at home, napping when you arrive at your destination can make things worse when adjusting to your destination. It can also make it harder to fall asleep when night time does arrive, leaving you wide awake when you really need to be sleeping. Do your best to stay awake until as close to night time as possible once you are at your final destination. This can be tough so that’s what makes tip 1 such an important one!

So when planning your next international holiday, take these tips into consideration when booking flights and arrival times to help with reducing jet lag for yourself and your travel companions. Sometimes we want to get out and start exploring the second we arrive or have only a limited time to see a certain destination so you want to give yourself the best chance of feeling good. You don’t want to forget the best creme brulee of your life!

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10 tips for Reducing Jet Lag when travelling overseas.


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Do you have any tips for reducing jet lag? 

29 comments Add yours
    1. It’s so hard to get comfortable on a plane but I always give it a go. Poor broken sleep is probably better than no sleep lol I get a bit excited by the on board movies though so have to limit myself from watching too many.

  1. My only tip is just get on with things and try not to think about it. I do remember though once arriving in London (from Australia) and just taking off on foot as soon as I got there to see the Queen. Early that evening I had a business catch up with a whole heap of colleagues and as we were discussing our plans for the next few weeks around a big round table I promptly fell asleep in front of everyone. Whoops, maybe my tip isn’t the best.
    Karin @ Calm to Conniption recently posted…The Ultimate Rabbit Hole #24: Wave Your Weekday Worries AwayMy Profile

    1. It’s so horrible when it interferes with your travel experience. I had virtually no jet lag for my last 2 overseas trips mostly due to the arriving later and only having a couple of hours until bed time change. Amazing how big of a difference a change in flight times can make. But time is definitely the biggest factor.

  2. Great tips! Dehydration is my biggest issue on flights, I just never seem to drink enough water! I remember our first long haul we flew Brisbane to LA then connected to New York. Worst jet lag ever. Basically didn’t see New York at night because we would just collapse late afternoon. I did learn from this though and totally agree that flight times make a great deal of difference reducing the effects.

  3. Some great tips here. I always change my watch to the time at my destination when I get on the plane. If I do arrive early in the day I force my self to stay up and do stuff until around 9pm – then I crash, sleep all night and am usually fine the next day. Some great tips thanks
    Julie recently posted…Learning to Cook in ParisMy Profile

    1. It’s all about syncing in with the destination time ASAP, for sure. I never wear a watch but grateful for auto time changes on phones these days 🙂

  4. Oh how I wish I’d read this a couple of months ago. We flew back to Sydney after a holiday and in South Africa and the jet lag nearly killed me. It was like having 3 new born babies again – up in the middle of night for 7 days!!!

    1. It’s brutal. The only other time I ever felt as bad as I did jet lagged was the post birth exhaustion after a 24 hour labour with my first child haha the world was all a little blurry…

  5. Great tips Holly. We’re headed to Hawaii next month and I’m worried the flight there might kill me 😉 We leave Adelaide 11am and get into Hawaii 7:30am with a 4 hour stopover in Sydney midafternoon. I am really hoping I can sleep on the plane, although I know it’s unlikely my husband will… We have to stay awake during the day though as we’re getting on a cruise that evening which departs at 7pm, so no hotel to check in to. We might end up on the pier using our suitcases as a pillow 😉
    Alanna recently posted…Apple and Rhubarb CrumbleMy Profile

    1. You will be amazed how well the excitement on day one gets you through. It’s those next couple of days that can be tough. Fingers crossed you manage to avoid major jet lag. Your honeymoon will be amazing! We have never been to the U.S. yet but I’m definitely adding Hawaii on the way there or back when we do. Can’t wait to hear how your trip goes!

    1. I hadn’t that first time but it was so horrible I now do all I can to avoid it. I can only compare that exhaustion to one thing… A 22 hour labour with my first child haha otherwise I’ve never known anything like it.

  6. Such great tips.

    Any advice to reduce fluid retention? Did a 16 hour flight from South Africa to Thailand (2 hour stop-over in Dubai) and looked like blow fish by the time I landed – mainly because I forgot my compression socks in my checked in luggage.

    Tried the whole compression socks thing, when heading back home, to no avail. It took a good number of days before my legs started feeling normal again and the pain subsided.

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