How to Get Over Jet Lag (Tips That Actually Work)

Written By: The Planet D

As we start to ease back into international travel, we know that there will be longer lines and more protocols to deal with. We will have to arrive at the airport earlier and spend more time getting to our destination. All of these things add to the travel day and the last thing you want to deal with is more jet lag.

When flying into a new time zone, the biorhythmic confusion known as jet lag is inevitable, but if you know how to minimize the symptoms it can make that first day in your destination a lot more enjoyable.

Over the years of crisis-crossing time zones, we have learned some great ways to beat jet lag and these really do work. Also read: What to Expect When Traveling During COVID-19

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Jet Lag Tips

How to get over Jet Lag tips

Jet lag can happen even on trips that are only a few hours in length. It is all based on your circadian rhythm, otherwise known as your “body clock”. When your sleep and wake patterns are disrupted this can lead to that internal clock being out of sync and in turn have some really negative effects on your body and mood.

Jet Lag Symptoms

You know that feeling when you get to a destination and you feel exhausted and out of sorts. You can’t sleep at night or you are irritable? Not really the way you want to start a vacation right? The symptoms of jet lag are broad but here are a few that we have experienced over the years:

  • Being irritable or emotional or other mood changes
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Feeling exhausted during the day
  • Can’t sleep throught the night
  • Brain fog
  • Upset stomach or bowel issues
Jet Lag Symptoms

These are just the jet lag symptoms that we have encountered but we have heard of people losing their coordination and even feeling disoriented and not knowing where they are. Disrupting your circadian rhythm, or internal clock can have some nasty side effects. That is why it is important to take steps to reduce jet lag symptoms, even before you get on the plane

How to Get Over Jet Lag Before You Leave

How to cure jet lag on the plane

One of the best ways to prevent jet lag is to adjust your habits before you even get on the plane. When we were crossing multiple time zones on a trip, we found that doing this really helped us minimize the effects of jet lag when we were at the destination.

Shift your Internal Clock Before you Travel

Almost everything you read addresses how you can get over jet lag when you land, but our advice is to start before you even leave. Now, this may sound impossible, or inconvenient but it really has worked for us.

You can try this manually a few days before you leave and set up your own schedule of when you should fall asleep when you should nap etc. but we found that using the Timeshifter App made things much easier. It tells you when to nap, when to take melatonin, when not to consume caffeine, and even when to get bright light exposure (or not) depending on where we are flying.

This really helped get our bodies ready for when we landed at our destination. It also gives you tips and suggestions for when you land as well.

How to Minimize Jet Lag on the plane

Hopefully, you have taken our advice on getting prepared before changing time zones, but if you didn’t there are still things you can do on the plane to help you reduce those jet lag symptoms.

Drink Plenty of Water

Drink plenty of water to get over jet lag

Staying properly hydrated is probably one of the easiest things you can do on the flight to help you reduce the effects of jet lag on the ground. Dehydration makes it more difficult for the body to adjust to the new circadian rhythm and we don’t want that.

We recommend packing a refillable water bottle in your carry-on and filling it before you get on the flight. That way you don’t have to wait for them to come around with water and you can hydrate properly during your flight. Remember, even if you don’t feel thirsty, you need to drink.

Avoid Alcohol

Avoid alcohol to get over jet lag

We don’t drink alcohol when we fly. When we were new travelers, we jumped at the chance to have a glass of wine on a flight, but we paid for it later. The effects of alcohol are greater at altitude and a person becomes dehydrated quickly when flying.

It may not be the most popular choice, but we recommend avoiding the booze until you hit the resort or hotel. Your body will thank you for it.

Avoid Sleep-Aids if you can

We try to avoid sleeping pills at all costs. We like to have the shift happen naturally. But if you do need to take sleep medicine make sure to use something natural like Melatonin. Other types of sleeping pills can have negative effects on your ability to combat jet lag because it is unnaturally forcing you to sleep.

Get Some Sleep

Sleeping on a plane can be a real hassle. But if your Jet Lag Plan calls for you to get some shut-eye, make sure you do it. It is not easy to fall asleep on a plane but if you have the right travel pillow and sleep mask, it can actually be more comfortable than you think.

If I have to sleep on a flight I make sure to get a window seat, so I am not bothered by people getting up to go to the bathroom, and I tell the flight attendant not to disturb me for meals.

How to Get Over Jet Lag When you Land

How to get over jet lag when you land

If you have done everything we have suggested up to this point to cure jet lag you should be in good shape. But, there are a few things you should do when you land that will make things even easier.

Get some Natural Light Exposure As soon as you can

Natural light plays a huge role in letting your body know when to rest and when not to. That is why it is so important to get out into some natural sunlight after you land. This is true regardless of whether you are flying east or flying west. If you are traveling east it is best to expose yourself to morning light to advance your body clock. If you are traveling west, try and get out in the evening light to delay your body clock.

We make sure to combine exercise and light together to help sync ourselves to the current time zone.

Don’t Fall Asleep right Away

Avoid jet lag dont sleep

I know the temptation to hit the hay and fall asleep is what your body wants to do, but it is best to actually stay awake until bedtime arrives in your local time zone. This is usually the hardest thing to do as your body wants to go to sleep at its normal bedtime. We suggest getting out and taking a walking tour or going for a hike. Any type of exercise will help you stay awake until the appropriate time.

Use Food to Trick Your Body

Get over jet lag by eating breakfast

Food is also the body’s trigger when it comes to adjusting to different time zones. We tend to associate certain meals with certain times of the day. So work this to your advantage when you get to a destination. For example, if we are on a night flight to Europe, we try to eat breakfast as soon as we land, even if we are not hungry.

This is another way to trick your body into thinking that it is breakfast time and it should be on that schedule. It may be the middle of the night at home but the faster you get your body on the time zone you are in the better off you will be.

Get a Good Nights Sleep

Get a good night sleep to avoid jet lag

This can be more difficult than it sounds, especially if you have crossed a number of time zones. But if you have taken our advice and followed these jet lag tips it will be much easier. If you find you are having difficulty sleeping, now is the time to use your sleep aid Melatonin Supplements. We like to take it just before bed as it helps our body’s circadian rhythm adjust naturally.

Try to keep the blinds closed and the lights dim at least an hour before you go to bed and stay off your computer or cell phone if you can. Blue light can really reak havoc with your sleep patterns.

Jet lag is something that every traveler will have to deal with at some time in their life. Changing time zones and resetting your body’s internal clock may not be simple but by following these tips we are sure that you will feel more energized and awake on your next vacation.

What has worked for you? Leave your best cure and give us some more advice.

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO.ย 

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • World Nomads - Digital Nomads or Frequent Travelers.
  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

14 thoughts on “How to Get Over Jet Lag (Tips That Actually Work)”

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this! Always looking for new ways to avoid the jet lag on my travels.

    Take care and safe adventures!

    Reply
  2. This is a safe and effective remedy for countering jet lag, in the form of easy-to-take tablets. Its effectiveness has been proved in a scientific trial of round-the-world passengers and confirmed by longhaul flight attendants in a test conducted in cooperation with their union. Being a homeopathic preparation using extremely low dosages, No-Jet-Lag has no side effects and is compatible with other medications. It has no connection with the controversial hormone melatonin. No-Jet-Lag is available at luggage stores, health stores, pharmacies and international airports.

    Reply
  3. As a long time, marathon traveler, this is a great list and awesome way to avoid that terrible jet lag. One thing I would put more emphasis on as well is the nutrition you’re putting in your body. Fresh fruit, vegetables, and as you mentioned, drink a ton of water. Also, ear plugs. Ear plugs have been one of my greatest investments while traveling.

    Thanks!

    Ryan

    Reply
  4. Hi Deb n Dave, I try to force myself to stay awake longer and try to adjust to new cycle soon. Walking in the sun helps, so does eating peanuts I’m told. Peanuts delay metabolism, making your digestion system more receptive to meals at odd hours.
    Priyank

    Reply
  5. For me, the biggest one is GO GO GO once you land. When crossing multiple time zones, you may be tired even if you do all of these. However, adjust to the time change as quickly as possible and try to stay up. It hasn’t always worked for me but I try ๐Ÿ™‚

    I do love #4 – I do this every time I fly. Sleeping on a place isn’t great but all of this helps!

    Reply
  6. Great tips, I do all those things with wherever I go and I’m able to beat jet-lag fairly quick with nearly everywhere I’ve been, however the return home always destroys me lol…

    I travel the same way both ways so maybe it’s the comfort of being home and there’s no rush or euphoria of traveling but I always get rocked coming back and when I returned from Thailand (14 timezones away) it almost took two weeks, even 7 days after I returned I remember sleeping like the dead until 3pm which is very weird for me to do as a rarely take naps.

    I’ve heard/read/experienced that it takes 1-day for each timezone and this seems to be exactly right for me coming home… going to my destination is usually half, if you follow your tips.

    Reply
  7. Me and my husband would be interested to have holiday soon and we have enough money earned. We are thinking to travel bit far from our place but our problem might be the jet lag so I guess this will really be so helpful. We won’t be worried now to travel long distance because we will know how to work on this jet lag.

    Reply
  8. Great suggestions! I find drinking a lot of water serves a dual purpose–it hydrates me and forces me to get up and use the bathroom periodically.

    Michael and I actually have a post-flight routine we’ve developed over the years: http://wp.me/p1DSu5-4Z

    I also always travel with a scarf/pashmina thing which can double as a blanket or cushion for my lower back.

    Reply
  9. This are useful tips and I was guilty with the alcohol in flight. haha. I will scrap that one when I am on my next flight.

    ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  10. Great advice! I wrote about jet lag a couple weeks ago because it’s such an irritating thing to have to deal with. Another important thing for after your flight is to do whatever you can to get on the local time schedule as soon as possible, even if it means forcing yourself to stay awake when you want to sleep. I’ve never tried melatonin but I have heard it works. Maybe I’ll try it one of these days!

    Reply
  11. Great info, D&D. I follow many of your recommendations and also like to set my “watch” (it’s really my iPhone) to the local time of my destination, so I start thinking on that time from the start. Doing some stretches while up and about in the cabin can be a good idea, too.

    I’m going to buy that neck pillow you suggest, too, I can’t stand the regular ones.

    Reply
  12. I recently bought some compression socks to wear for a few long flights I have coming up. The person at the pharmacy seemed to think that they would help with jet lag as well as leg and foot swelling.

    My plan for combating jet lag is to try to take a short nap at my destination if I need to but get some fresh air and sunshine, fight through tiredness and go to bed at a reasonable bedtime. I’ve done this the two times I’ve travelled from Canada across the pond and while the first day when I landed was a bit rough, by the next morning I was right as rain.

    Reply
    • Exactly, Theseare valuable tips and I was blameworthy with the liquor in flight. haha. I will scrap that one when I am on my next flight.

      Reply