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I’m a Frequent Traveler—Here’s How I Prevent Jet Lag

A woman yawns while sightseeing
eldar nurkovic/Shutterstock.com

As someone who has been to 20 countries, I am very familiar with the effects of jet lag. This annoying phenomenon can make the first few days of a trip miserable, leaving you feeling exhausted, disoriented, and nauseous. While I still experience jet lag from time to time, I’ve picked up a lot of tips over the years for battling it. These days, I can successfully avoid jet lag going to and coming from my destination for most trips. Here’s how I prevent feeling awful when changing time zones.

Prep for Your Trip

A woman plans a trip

One of the best ways to prevent jet lag is to adjust your sleep schedule in the days leading up to your trip. If you’re traveling east, try going to bed and waking up an hour earlier each day for a few days before your trip. If you’re traveling west, do the opposite and go to bed and wake up an hour later each day. This will help your body get in sync with the time zone you’re traveling to, so you won’t feel as jet-lagged when you arrive.


Get great sleep leading up to and during your trip.

If you aren’t sure how to adjust your sleep schedule, I highly recommend using the Timeshifter App. After entering your flight information, it gives you detailed information about when to sleep, wake up, and avoid caffeine in the days leading up to your trip. I always feel so much better on a trip after using the info from this app before traveling.

Download on the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play

Know When to Sleep on the Plane

A man sleeps on a plane
Air Images/Shutterstock.com

Sleeping on the plane can be a great way to minimize the effects of jet lag, but it’s important to do it at the right time. If you’re traveling west, you generally want to try to stay awake on the plane and sleep when you arrive at your destination. If you’re traveling east, you should try to sleep on the plane so that you arrive at your destination feeling more rested.

I like to use an eye mask and noise-canceling headphones to block out any distractions and create a more sleep-friendly environment.

A good travel pillow also makes a world of difference when it comes to sleeping on planes in economy. This inflatable one is the only one that allows me to sleep on most flights.

JefDiee Inflatable Travel Pillow

This might be the reason you can finally sleep on a plane.

Stay Hydrated

A woman drinks from a water bottle

It’s important to stay hydrated during your flight, as dehydration can make jet lag worse. Bring a refillable water bottle with you on the plane and ask the flight attendants to fill it up when they come around with the drink cart. Adding electrolytes to your water can also help you stay hydrated even if you aren’t able to chug water all day.

Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier

Stay hydrated on long flights.

I also like to pack some healthy snacks like almonds, fruit, and granola bars to munch on during the flight. I usually end up eating candy instead, but it makes me feel better to pack healthy snacks anyway. Once you’re on the flight, try to eat meals and snacks in accordance with the local time of where you’re heading.

Legendary Foods 20 gram Protein Pastry

These taste really good and have plenty of protein to keep you satisfied.

Use Your Energy Wisely

A woman goes sightseeing

What you do in the first 24 hours after landing will make a big difference in how you feel for the rest of the trip. Be mindful of the local time and adjust your schedule as soon as you land.

If it’s the evening when you land, for example, you’ll want to go to bed at a normal time to make sure you get at least eight hours of sleep before you start the next day. If you don’t feel tired, try taking some melatonin to help your body feel sleepy.

OLLY Extra Strength Sleep Gummy

I'm a big fan of these melatonin gummies.

If you land during the day, try to stay awake even if you feel exhausted. Drink some caffeine if necessary, expose yourself to sunlight, and avoid napping until the evening. If you can keep yourself awake during the day and get a good night’s sleep that evening, you’ll feel awake and refreshed in the morning.

Nuun Sport + Caffeine: Electrolyte Drink Tablets

These are easy to pack and good to have on-hand for a quick energy boost.

Take Supplements

A woman takes a supplement
Opat Suvi/Shutterstock.com

There are a variety of supplements that can help prevent jet lag, including melatonin and No Jet Lag tablets. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep, and taking it before bedtime can help reset your body’s clock.

Nature Made Melatonin 3mg Tablets

Another great brand of melatonin.

No Jet Lag tablets contain a blend of homeopathic remedies that claim to help prevent the symptoms of jet lag. I’m not really sure how it works, but this product always seems to make me feel better when traveling. Always check with your doctor before trying any new supplements.

Move Before and After

A couple goes sightseeing

Sitting for long periods of time on a plane can make your body feel stiff and achy, which can exacerbate the effects of jet lag. Before your flight, try to get in some exercise or stretching to help loosen up your muscles.

Kizik Madrid Hands Free Mens and Womens Sneakers

These are great travel shoes because they're comfortable, stylish, and easy to slip on and off.

After your flight, try to do the same to help your body adjust to the new time zone. Even a short walk around the airport or hotel can make a big difference. Physical exercise can also help you feel more awake, so try going for a walk outside if you are trying to stay awake after landing in a new country.

Pack a Sunrise Lamp

A woman uses a light therapy lamp
Image Point Fr/Shutterstock.com

One of the things that can make jet lag worse is a disrupted sleep schedule. If you have the luggage space, I highly recommend packing a sunrise lamp with you on your trip.

Philips SmartSleep Alarm Clock

This alarm clock will make it easier to get up without pressing the snooze.

These lamps simulate the sunrise, gradually getting brighter over a period of time to help wake you up naturally. I love mine, and I always feel more refreshed when I wake up to it. If you don’t have the space for a lamp, you can also pack a light therapy device and use it in the morning to help your internal clock adjust to a new time schedule on the first morning or two of your trip.

Light Therapy Lamp

This lamp is flat and easy to pack.

Jet lag is the worst, but it doesn’t have to ruin your next trip. With a little preparation and some simple tips, you can arrive at your destination feeling rested and ready to explore.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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