This article is the second in a series of Healthy Ways to Travel.
As I get older, I find I want healthier options for the products I put on and in my body. I am also eating healthier and find that the physical impact that travelling has on me has become much less. And I want to share that with other travellers in the hope that they may find something of value that eases travelling. Travelling is so worthwhile, but the physical impact can at times be punishing.
Which brings me to jet lag. I hate jet lag. I am never good when I am tired at the best of times let alone when I haven’t slept in over 30 hours apart from the odd 10-minute nap here and there on a plane.
I’m telling you it is not a pretty sight. And the mood is not so pretty either. So how do I manage jet lag?
To start with I do everything I can beforehand to minimise it. And I am prepared for when I land because I could be a little dazed by that stage.
The direction you fly definitely affects the degree of your jet lag. It takes quite a few days to recover from jet lag when I fly to the States but not when I fly to Europe (travelling from Australia). I am usually tired but tend to get into a good sleeping pattern straight away. Coming home from Europe, on the other hand, is another story. Terrible jetlag. I have learnt not to book any meetings or important projects for the week after I get home if I can at all help it. I am usually able to stumble to my desk and work to some capacity, but meetings and running workshops are out.
There are a lot of things you can do to help your body deal with jet lag. It’s hard to enjoy your trip if you are walking around in a foggy daze, so doing everything you can to be healthy and prepared is in your best interest. I hate being tired. And if I am travelling with one of my groups I need to be able to hit the ground running and keep running.
This article outlines everything that I do to combat jet lag, and there are a couple of new things that I will be trying too. These are what works for me but I understand that everyone is different and what works for one may not for another.
I try and eat as healthy as possible. I try to eat clean foods with very little carbs. I find if I am feeling a little sluggish to start with jet lag is not going to improve it.
I increase my intake of water a day or so before flying to make sure I am well hydrated.
And this one is not always easy, but I get as much rest as I can before the flight. Living in Australia, the flights to the States and particularly Europe are LONG! I am a light sleeper so sleep on the plane can be a little elusive. I feel better if I have had as much sleep as possible. So, dull and boring as it sounds, it's early to bed for a few days before travel.
- Drink water
- Get plenty of sleep
- Eat well
I try and sleep on the flight. I try and use earplugs and an eye mask but I don’t feel especially comfortable with either. I am getting better as I get older, so there’s hope for me yet. The problem I have is trying to fit long legs into economy class seats. But I do my best.
I may have one or two glasses of wine but no more. Last time it made me feel a little sick, and I don’t want to get dehydrated. If I were good, I wouldn’t have any at all, but when I am travelling I feel like celebrating, so I don’t want to kill the buzz!
I make sure I am warm enough. There is nothing worse than trying to sleep and your cold. I have a scarf/wrap that I take travelling, and I use this as an extra cover around my shoulders. It helps a lot.
Typically I use Lemon or Citrus Blend Essential oils instead of perfume, but these tend to be more energising. So I also travel with Lavender Essential Oil which has so many great uses that it is invaluable to have in my travel kit. The scent isn’t that strong that it will affect other passengers. I just put a drop on my scarf that I wrap around myself somewhere close to my face.
- Stay hydrated
- Keep warm
- Use Lavender Essential Oil to assist sleep
- Use earplugs and eyemask
At this stage, I can feel a little out of it. Frankincense Essential Oil isn’t something I haven’t tried before but will certainly be taking a bottle with me next time. If I am with one of my groups and have to be ready and organised when we land, then I need to be able to focus and be clear.
Frankincense Essential Oil is great for focus, just inhale from the bottle, or you can pop a drop in your hands, rub together and inhale. I’m looking forward to trying it.
The other oil I will be using is my good old Citrus Blend Essential Oil or Lemon Oil. Citrus oils and scents are energising. I use these every day and love them. It’s so fresh and invigorating.
- Inhale Frankincense Essential Oil to help with focus
- Dab on Citrus Blend or Lemon Essential Oil for an energising boost
- Drink more water
Arrive at Destination
You get to your hotel, apartment or hostel. You are exhausted. You unpack your bag (if you’re that good) and all you want to do is dive into bed for a nap.
But instead, you should do the following things. I find they really help.
Exercise. I know it’s probably the last thing you feel like but it helps. Don’t make it punishing. For me, it’s a good walk around my new surroundings. It’s also a good way to get my bearings in a new place.
Take a shower as soon as you can. Apart from wanting to scrub off 30 hours of travel (yep that’s the average travel time from Australia to Europe!), it will wake you up before heading out.
Drink heaps of water. Even though may have stayed as hydrated as possible during travel you still could be suffering from dehydration. Drink as much water as you can. This will help with headaches too.
I have talked about keeping hydrated each step of the way. Once you arrive, it's a great idea to add a drop of Lemon Essential Oil to a glass of water. I like the refreshing taste, but I also like it because Lemon is a natural cleanser. I add lemons to my daily juice at home. It’s great for detoxing. And the citrus is naturally uplifting and energising.
Now don’t gag, but I use Baking Soda and Peppermint Oil to brush my teeth. The Peppermint Oil is also an excellent oil to wake you up. And it’s cooling. So a dab on the temples is great if I am feeling exhausted.
Don’t be tempted to stay in your room to have a small “rest”. It’s pretty much a sure thing that rest will turn into a big sleep. Best to stay awake until night time at least.
I know it’s not always possible to check in to your hotel if you are early. I always carry a spare set of clothes in my hand luggage (you can read Packing Lightly here and see what I pack). You can at least drop your bags at the hotel, change and wash up as best you can, and then head out for a walk.
I usually go in search of something to eat and coffee. I don’t like to load up on carbs. For me when I do this, I feel great for a little while and then completely tired soon after. A protein meal is what I usually look for, or at least something light. In Italy, I might order a Caprese Salad or Melon with Proscuitto.
- Shower and change as soon as possible
- Drink water with a drop of Lemon Oil
- Use Peppermint Oil to pep you up (or the Citrus Oils)
- Eat light protein based meal
Try and establish a sleeping pattern in line with local time. The quicker you do this, the better you will feel. I will be taking a travel candle with me next time with laced with a blend of oils to help promote sleep.
Look after yourself, travel can be stressful on the body, pair that with jet lag and you can get run down very quickly. A lot of people get sick when they travel or just after they get home.
Plus there is nothing worse than stumbling around in a sleep deprived daze feeling sick.
I love using the Essential Oils I mentioned for a number of reasons. They work for me, they are versatile with each one having so many different uses, and they are convenient to pack.
A note about the Essential Oils I have mentioned in this article. There is a huge variety on the market, but it is important only to buy a good quality 100% Essential Oil. Don’t be tempted to buy cheaper brands, they are usually inferior quality and will not produce the same benefits.
Find a brand you trust. I have used a few brands including Thursday Plantation and dōTERRA.
In the future, all my Essential Oils will be dōTERRA as I love them and they are of the highest quality. Because I want to take some of the oils internally, I need to be able to trust the product.
I have mentioned my preferred supplier of Essential Oils above, and I purchase those from my friend Elisha from Empowered Essentials.
For those of you who are interested in information about the Essential Oils in this article, you can get it here.
I would love to know what you do to help jet lag? Pop it into the comments below, and I will be able to share it with our community. Thanks.
Cindy Reid is the founder of Travel Charm. Cindy has travelled extensively both personally and with her groups. She has now combined her love of art, food and travel and hosts Painting Trips to Europe and continues to explore and roam in Australia.