If there’s one thing that irks travelers more than crying babies or folks who take forever going through security, it’s jet lag. No matter how many times you make the New York-to-Los Angeles trek, you never quite have the same spark you did before you boarded the plane. Our wide-eyed inspectors have heard your plea (and incessant yawns) and want to share a few tips that should help ground this age-old travel dilemma once and for all.
Jet lag is hard to master. I’m still working on it. But after a long flight, I love to break a sweat on the treadmill for about 30 minutes. It gets your circulation going, resets your internal clock and gives you a jolt of energy. —Inspector No. 1
I don’t sleep a lot while I’m on the road, so to combat jet lag and fatigue, I drink SmartWater. It’s important to stay hydrated, and this water gives you a little help. Try not to drink alcohol on flights; it just dehydrates you. I try to get in fruits and vegetables whenever I can — even if it’s a smoothie or picking up a banana at Starbucks. I also bring along vitamin B stress complex tablets for nutrients to fight stress. It also gives me energy. B-12 is good for a boost of energy as well if you don’t take the B stress complex. I also carry along Emergen-C vitamin packs to drop into a glass of water. Going to the gym is great, of course, but any time I need to wake up and get some energy, I’ll go for a long walk, which always helps to orientate me with wherever I am. —Inspector No. 2
I try to adjust myself to my destination’s time zone as soon as I get on the plane rather than when I land. So if I board a 6 p.m. flight out of NYC to, say, Paris, where it’s midnight, I would take a sleeping pill — usually over-the-counter Unisom — as soon as I got on the plane, wear my eye mask, try to get a full night’s sleep and be wide awake upon arrival. Even if I took a 10 a.m. flight to Hong Kong (where it’s 11 p.m.), I’ll do the same to adjust my body as soon as possible rather than when I get there. I also have a great trick for sleeping on planes, which involves getting a window seat and putting your feet up on the tray table and curling up. But it really only works if you’re under 5’4”. As a side note, my mother is a big proponent of dried cherries as a jet-lag cure. —Inspector No. 3
The best thing for jet lag when traveling to Europe is to avoid conking out on your entire flight there. Bring some work and load your iPad with shows and movies to keep you busy instead. Then, try to nap when you arrive in your new time zone, if you took an evening flight from the U.S. Go ahead and take a long nap — I usually knock out for three hours — but avoid sleeping all day. It’s best to wake yourself up with a long, hot shower and go for a walk in the city you’re visiting so you can sleep at night. This ensures the smoothest transition to a different schedule. It’s a tougher challenge when you’re traveling to Asia or crossing multiple time zones and you’re completely flipped around. You can pretty much count on waking up in the wee hours on your first night in Asia — I usually just go with it, get some work done and always look forward to a nice dim sum breakfast. The spas we visit in Asia are fantastic and I always end up dozing in the relaxation room, plus a treatment and steam session helps to shake off fatigue and soreness from the plane. I sometimes use melatonin to get back on track after a trip to Asia. It works great and doesn’t make you feel groggy in the morning. Otherwise, you can use the fact that you’re asleep by 7 p.m. to wake up before dawn and hit the gym. —Inspector No. 4
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