7 ways to minimize travel fatigue
What is jet lag and how do you avoid it?
Suffering from jet lag can be bad enough if you are on holiday, but really detrimental to your career if your business trips are continually compromised by flight-induced fatigue. To a certain extent, there is an inevitability to jetlag, just as it is inevitable that we will likely feel pretty tired on a Friday evening after a full week of work. But as with anything that engages our ability to withstand exhausting situations, there are ways to mitigate or even completely avoid the worst parts of jetlag.
Dancing to circadian rhythms
When our body has trouble recovering from long flights, it’s usually because we are messing with the natural circadian rhythms, or how our body is codified to do things throughout a 24-hour cycle. From the time we wake up, to when we feel hungry, to the point when our body tells us we’re tired and it is time for bed, those punctuation points are programmed into our hard drive. So if you fly from Denver to Frankfurt, leaving Denver at 6 in the evening and arriving in Frankfurt after 11 in the morning the following day, you may not be so terribly off if you managed to sleep on the plane several hours. Of course, if you had an awful flight with a seat companion who kept coughing and insisted on getting up to go to the bathroom every 15 minutes, jarring you awake each time, you most likely will feel pretty rough and not too keen to give that important presentation later that afternoon.
Similarly, if you are flying from London Heathrow to San Francisco, you may do a bit better since you will be leaving London mid-morning and arriving in San Fran early afternoon. It will, in theory, feel normal to keep going throughout the day. The fact of the matter is, though, that if you don’t prepare correctly, flying any distance can be difficult on your body, and the exhaustion can be compounded by the number of time zones you are crossing in either direction.
How to avoid jet lag
Unfortunately, there is no sure-fire way to ensure you will never feel the hampering effects of jet lag. But don’t stop reading here, because there are ways to mitigate the severity, and even help your body deal with the stressors that add to the cumulative effect flying has on fatiguing the body. Here are some of our tips to minimize the impact jet lag will have on your travels.
Dress for the occasion
Finding the right balance between comfort and a professional appearance will help you be certain not to look like a student traveling in pajama bottoms, fleecy socks, and Birkenstocks, but still be warm enough in the temperature-controlled environment. Packing an extra scarf or even compact sweater in your hand luggage will mean that you can layer-up as required, especially if you are sitting in an overly air-conditioned plane or next to an emergency exit.
Avoid alcohol and especially caffeine
Any stimulant that is apt to increase your body’s level of agitation or indeed interfere with your ability to sleep should be avoided. If you are lucky enough to be on a flight with a master -sommelier-curated wine list, then we’d be the last ones to abstain completely; but drinking excessively will certainly upset your body clock – as it does on ground level. And almost more importantly, both alcohol and caffeine will magnify the issue of dehydration that is difficult to avoid on long distance flights.
That brings us to our next suggestion, which is to simply drink water! A pressurized cabin causes a lack of humidity for a number of reasons, and this causes bodily dehydration. Dehydration makes it even harder for your body to cope with the challenges of travel and makes you feel even more exhausted at your destination. So, keeping your body properly well-hydrated is one of the best ways to counter the effects of travel fatigue. Prepare for your next trip by drinking plenty of liquids a couple of days before travel, and by staying well-hydrated during your flight. And, if you do imbibe a little while underway, drink equally as much water as beverages with alcohol (for example, one glass of water for every glass of wine).
Avoid sleep deprivation at all cost
Perhaps the most obvious way to try to avoid jetlag is to get enough sleep. That suggestion is so obvious it may even sound almost churlish. But it will help your body not to be over-tired when you reach the plane, so you’re best to get a series of good nights’ sleep beforehand. It also helps to sleep on the plane when you can. Traveling in a Business or First Class situation is not always possible for all of us, but you can invest in a good set of noise-canceling headphones to try and block out that white noise hum that is unavoidable on a plane. And once you arrive at your destination, the best method is to be as exuberant as possible about jumping right into whichever time zone you have landed. So, do your best to blend in like a local from the moment you land, and stay awake until a normal bedtime.
Use stress-free luggage
VOCIER was founded with the conviction that more can be done to make the traveler’s life easier. That’s why our luggage not only streamlines packing and unpacking requirements with the intention of protecting clothing from dreaded wrinkles, but we have also incorporated a Fast Pass pocket for easy access to our specially designed toiletry bag as well as our secure travel document holder on the carry-on luggage handle that will help you breeze through passport control and customs.
Every person is different just like every flight is different, but knowing how to negotiate your own relations with jetlag will enhance each travel opportunity, whether it is essential for business or one of your dream vacations.