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08-25-09 | Posted by


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As a frequent business traveller, I have waged a war against jet lag for years.   There are more clinical definitions of jet lag, but mine is that terrible grumpy, surreal, stupid and tired feeling you get when you travel across too many time zones.  This feeling can be somewhat mitigated by appropriate planning.  To reduce the effects of jet lag, I need to minimize my stress, and maximize my sleep and comfort.

Pre-flight: Maximize your ability to fight jet lag once you get to your destination.

  • Don’t get exhausted before you fly.  For me, that means not taking early morning flights that will force me out of bed before 5:00 am to work out. 
  • Don’t take late flights.  You are setting yourself up to be exhausted.  Flying west in the evening means you land extremely late in your local time zone.  Likewise, flying East late means taking a Red Eye, which I won’t do.  Your body takes three days to recover and exacerbates jet lag.
  • I never rush to get to the airport.  I would rather sit in the lounge and be comfortable than panic on the highway.

In-flight rituals: Relaxation and comfort set the stage for being refreshed getting off of the plane.

I view a plane ride like a personal treat to myself.  Since I work 70 hours or more per week, having a several hours of time just to myself is heaven.

Other in-flight essentials:

  • Bose Noise Reduction headphones.  Yes they take up space, but they dramatically reduce that “jangled nerve” sensation one can get stepping off of a long flight.  They are expensive, but they work.
  • iPod – I actually hardly ever use it on plane, but it can be nice and soothing at times.  It will also help in hotel rooms.
  • Emergen-C or E-Boost.  I have one with water right before the flight takes off. 
  • Glymiracle Hand Cream, Rosebud Salve.  Dehydration is a killer on my skin. I always have a favourite hand cream and lip balm.  Other favourites are Benefit Silky Lip Balm and Bliss Hand Cream.
  • Water and other beverages.  Hydration is essential. Yes, drinking a lot of liquid makes you have to get up and use the nasty airplane bathrooms, but it is worth it. 
  • Cashmere blanket – and I mean blanket, not Pashmina.  A quality, relatively inexpensive blanket can be found at www.chicstuff.com. 
  • Bring your own food on the plane.  Luckily I get to fly business class a lot.  I still bring my own food.  So instead of over-eating food that is over processed, I eat well, and this sets me up for feeling better on the trip.
  • Chocolate.  No explanation required.  It is the perfect elixir for almost anything.
  • Books and Magazines to pass the time away.  Please make sure you have at least one fashion or trash magazine.

While on the Ground: Get enough sleep, relax and understand when you will be most affected by jet lag, and plan for it.

  • Sleeping on planes is something I consider essential, but I don’t try to make myself go to bed or stay awake.  I try to decompress and then let my body do what it wants. If I am tired, I sleep.  I don’t worry about trying to “acclimate myself” to the time zone I am going to. 
  • I always try to stay in the same hotels in the cities I travel to.  Sleeping in a familiar place increases my ability to get to sleep and stay asleep.  I always exercise when I travel.  It helps with my energy level, which in turn helps with jet lag.
  • I always take my “regular” beauty products with me.  I use Walker Bags to pack some of my stuff.  Some of my favourites include: Kerastase Bain Miroir Shampoo, Graham Webb Strengthening Conditioner, Kiehl’s Crème de Corps body cream and Clinique City Block 40 sunblock.

General tips:

  • Anyone who says you should get to a destination one or two days before your first meeting on a business trip has never actually had to travel for business. 
  • Allow yourself time to relax and take in some fresh air.  I actually almost never shop when I am at home, but I allow myself to wander and shop when I am between meetings. 
  • If you are away for less than three days, don’t try to adjust to the local time zone.  It won’t work.
  • Traveling West to East – for me that would be to Europe – I try not to schedule meetings first thing in the morning.  I also don’t schedule meetings for mid-afternoon if I can help it. 
  • If you eat like crap, you will feel like crap.  Scout out places that will have healthy food near your hotel BEFORE you go on your trip.  Call the concierge and bring healthy snacks with you.
  • Don’t get upset when airlines are late, delayed or a flight is cancelled.  There is nothing you can do about it.  Increased stress = increased jet lag.
  • Look through the normal, routine “stuff” you have at home and find what you can take with you, especially beauty products that are going to make you feel better and more refreshed to make it through the day.  Beyond my usuals, I try to take some treats, like Bliss Vanilla & Bergamot Shower Gel and Body Cream.

With some experimentation you will find out what works for you. Happy flying!

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