Help for Jet Lag

This will be our first International trip. Anyone have any really different ideas to help with the Jet lag. I read in Rick's Guidebook that he drinks lots of Orange juice on the plane over...why? Thanks :)

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
2028 posts

He drinks it to stay hydrated. The best things to drink are water and juice, no alcohol or carbonated beverages.

Posted by Anita
Long Beach, California, USA
1351 posts

We go to Europe frequently and always try to arrive sometime in the mid-afternoon. We drink tons of water on the plane and try not to sleep. As soon as we arrive to where we are staying we have dinner and go to bed. Usually around 5 or 6 in the afternoon. We sleep until morning and then usually feel the effects of jet lag very little the next day. The few times I've gone the other way to Asia I do the same thing but I do try to sleep for a few hours because the jet lag seems to be worse going west. Still, I try to arrive in the afternoon, have dinner and go to bed. I usually feel the jet lag pretty acutely by early the next afternoon but fight through it and go to bed around 8. Then by the next morning I'm feeling pretty good. The pressurized air in the planes is EXTREMELY dry and really can make you feel ill unless you stay almost overly hydrated! That's why you want to keep drinking...I think he chooses orange juice to keep his blood sugar up. Jet lag can be overwhelming and I think just that little sugar boost might help although I've never tried it. Have a great time on your trip! Hope this helps...

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21491 posts

Shelley, Even after numerous trips, I'm still trying to find the "perfect" solution for dealing with jet lag. Rick's usual advice on the subject can be seen at the 3:12 mark on this recent video: In my own case, I've found that the fresh air and bright light only works for awhile, and I often have to resort to a short nap. The most important factor is to make sure that it's a SHORT nap. I used to be a shift worker, so am somewhat used to being awake or asleep at different hours, and having a "power nap" was a method I used on a regular basis. I'll sometimes indulge in a glass of wine in the first part of the flight, and I don't think it affects me one way or the other. I also have a few cups of coffee during the flight, as I'd probably be in worse shape without it. Good luck!

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10505 posts

"Anyone have any really different ideas to help with the Jet lag." Most frequent travelers have developed their own routine via trial and error. What works for one person may not work for another. That being said, here's what I do for west to east flights... I accept that jet lag will significantly affect me for the first day or so and I plan around it. I take a prescription sleep aid just after take off and try to sleep the majority of the flight. Mainly to help pass tedium of a long flight, not necessarily to avoid jet lag. I try to get some sunshine and walking upon arrival. I may take a short nap. I retire to bed slightly earlier than I normally would, and generally sleep late the next morning. I generally don't feel any more of the effects by day two.

Posted by gone
2081 posts

hi, for me so far, i dont notice any jet lag on my way there or when/after i arrive. the adrenalin keeps me going. I just keep on moving and i will get dozy but will usually get my second wind when im walking and exploring. On the plane though i will drink alot of H20, juice and whatever is offered or what i bring onboard. I will say that on my way back home or when i get home, the Jet Lag is definitely there, but thats okay since im happy and will be planning for my next trip. happy trails.

Posted by Ellen
Centennial, CO, USA
1500 posts

I too am more bothered by jet lag on the trip home. When we arrive in Europe we are still traveling, getting luggage, a taxi or a walk to a hotel. I recommend that you listen to your body. Try to stay up the first day at least through dinner time, then head to bed and sleep. Do drink plenty of water on the flight and I recommend trying to get some sleep, even a nap will help. Noise cancelling headphones help with some of the tired feeling. The noise from the engines on the plane can drone on and affect your sleep. Even if I'm not listening to a movie or music, I keep the headphones "on" to block out helps me to relax. it's almost impossible to sleep in economy. People are moving around, your seatmate might need to get up to use the restroom. The seats are uncomfortable and don't recline enough for rest. Don't get too worried about the jet lag until you see for yourself how you are affected. Your excitement when you arrive will keep you awake, and you should feel just fine the 2nd day. Let yourself sleep until you wake so you are rested.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
2744 posts

I'll start going to bed earlier than normal 3-4 days before leaving. Try to get into your hotel room in Europe as early as possible and take a nap. Get up around 4:00 and hit the streets. Like everyone says: Drink more water. I prefer to take an Ambien as soon as we eat on the plane, and hit the sack. Rick Steves also has said he uses the sleep aid.
Whenever you get up, stretch your legs and walk around.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
813 posts

There was a good NY Times (I think) article about this I read the other day - it said to grab your running shoes and hit the ground the following morning for a jog. I don't doubt that exercise and clearing your head first thing in the morning would be incredible for jet lag - but one needs to have the internal motivation. On the upside, you get to see the new city in a whole new light, as fewer people will be milling about the streets. I think the answer is different for everyone. I get by on espresso and pure andrenaline and lots of walking - I go to bed late and get up early and don't take any naps unless I literally can't stand up anymore (I'm 40 and probably won't be able to do this forever).

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
3082 posts

Rick has a huge capacity for orange juice! It does help with hydration. I prefer to drink water mostly. I try hard to sleep some on the airplane. If I skip anything caffeine-containing after early morning on the day of flight, I can usually snooze at least a couple of hours. Alcohol does not help me. The opposite. Since my plane usually arrives early am in Europe, I may have many hours before my room is ready. I stow my luggage at my hotel, then walk around, shop, eat breakfast, read the paper, walk some more..... If I am lucky, my room will be ready around noon. Then I rest, read, watch TV, go out to eat, and turn in for a fairly early night. I don't expect my first night of sleep to be normal, but by the second morning I feel fairly normal. To avoig jetlag I've tried the "No Jetlag" remedy and melatonin plus sleeping pill. I find that the best help is simply to avoid alcohol and caffeine and concentrate on rest for a few hours. Spending time walking outside in the morning is helpful. Not only does my body need to move around after the confinement of the plane, but daylight helps me orient to the new time. I usually drink some coffee at breakfast time on the plane. I think this helps reset the internal clock. At least the stimulant of caffeine will tend to keep me awake for a few hours. If I nap in the afternoon after landing, I try to limit it to an hour. Otherwise, I may not be able to sleep at night. I find that the older I get, the easier the jetlag problem becomes. My first few trips to Europe I was a zombie for several days!

Posted by Mary
Reno, NV, USA
213 posts

What works for me - a motion sickness pill and a glass of wine on the plane and then sleep, sleep, sleep. Do I sleep well in coach? No, but I get as much as possible en route. I also credit the fact that as I have gotten older, I need less sleep to be able to function. When I was younger, jet lag made me physically ill for a good day or so.

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
910 posts

I can't sleep a wink on planes. I do enjoy the free wine/beer etc. if offered. I had the best jet lag experience on our last trip. We flew on a German airline and full of lots of Germans. I think they have it down pretty well. After dinner, a few short hours of sleep, they all seemed to open the windows and bring lots of light into the cabin. I was kind of mad since we still had time to try to sleep and I really didn't understand why they were all waking up and bringing light in. Well, it is a great idea. We had very little jet lag!

Posted by Bets
2796 posts

We do as Anita does, an early dinner and then to bed for a 12 hour rest. I used to arrive, eat lunch, nap but have a hair appointment for 5 pm that would get me up and out. Now it's flake out after an early dinner. The cut and color waits.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12697 posts

Since we are dealing with about 8 hrs of time change. In the two/three weeks prior we try to time shift by three or hour hours. Since we are semi-retired it is easy to do. On the day of departure we try to function on the European time for where we are going. That means up at 3 or 4 am, very active, to the airport early so that we can have a dinner late in the afternoon at the airport. When we board the airplane we are closed to our new bed time and fairly tired since we have been up since 3 AM. Thirty minutes after wheels up we are settled in with shoes off, ear plugs, eye shade, and ignoring all activity on the plane and trying our best to sleep with some success. About an hour or so prior to touch down, we wake up, freshen up the best we can, take breakfast, coffee, whatever is offered, etc. Hit the ground running and try to stay active and in the sunlight till about 2/3 pm when we take a nap for max of two hours with an alarm clock. Generally we sleep about an hour and half, back outside, dinner at the normal local time and to bed around the 10, 11 pm mark. Have a little residual effect the next day but by the second day completely adjusted. The issue with coming home, is that it is inconvenient to do time shifting, etc., so it hits all at once which is more difficult to over come but we are home.

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
1482 posts

I find the best cure for jet lag is to go to someplace really nice. That way you get to suffer in someplace that you want to be.

Posted by Shelley
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
257 posts

Thanks everyone. some great advice and some for smiles. I know the feeling of adrenaline that I get when we travel so that will probably kick in for sure. We arrive early morning Edinburgh 8:30 am. We will drop luggage at hotel and then head to the Castle straight away...well, maybe with additional coffee. Then tour around the city a bit. Earlier dinner and bed earlier too and hopefully start to get a bit rested. We head on from there the next day but have two days in York to relax and get over the Jet lag. So, thanks all. Not sure how we will do, since this is our first trip... we are mid 50's. Maybe like one person mentioned ...we do better as we age. :)

Posted by Adam
2923 posts

Lots of things help a little. Some things, in order of effectiveness for us, are melatonin Argonne diet Managing light/fresh air/active arrival day We find without the above that napping, which prolongs jet lag, is inevitable. With the above there is a midmorning "low" but other than that no jet lag and a full day of sightseeing is possible on Day 1 with no side effects after that.

Posted by terry
44 posts

I think for each person it's different about jet lag. While I am on the flight try to only drink water. Now if you can sleep on the flight that helps, but sadly I never can sleep during a flight. I try my best to get moving once I arrive. Stay outside in the sunshine. As rick said water is your best friend.