Top tips: Avoiding jet lag by making changes to your routine before you travel

There's no easy to way to eliminate jetlag completely, but being prepared, by making changes to your routine before you travel and following these tips during and after your journey, can help you keep jet lag to a minimum.

Jet lag occurs when your body clock is disrupted by travelling across several time zones, common symptoms include extreme fatigue, disorientation and an inability to sleep when you want to.

Top tips to avoid jet lag on holiday

Symptoms of jet lag can seriously disrupt the first few days of your holiday, especially if you are over 65 or suffer from a pre-existing medical condition as your body can find it harder to adjust to a different time zone- follow these tips to keep jet lag from spoiling your holiday.

Before you travel

  • Start on the right foot

Get a good night's sleep before you travel, starting out tired will only make things worse.

  • Start to synchronise your body clock before you travel.

If you are flying east try going to bed earlier for a couple of nights before you leave, or if you are heading west go to bed later. During a long haul flight try to eat and sleep according to your destination's time zone.

  • Consider adding a stopover to your journey

A stopover means that you can start to adjust to your new time zone gradually which can make it easier. Even a short transit stop can help because you could take advantage of the airport facilities by having a refreshing shower or swim.

During your journey

  • Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated

Sitting in a dry, air-conditioned aeroplane for many hours can make you dehydrated which will intensify the effects of jet lag. Keep dehydration to a minimum by drinking plenty of water and avoid alcoholic drinks or drinks with caffeine in them such as tea, coffee and some fizzy drinks.

  • Prepare yourself for sleep

Moderate exercise during the day before the flight can make you more likely to sleep on the plane. You can also create a more sleep conducive atmosphere by using earplugs and eyeshades.

  • Beware of sleep medication and remedies

It can be tempting to try sleep medication or other remedies to avoid jet lag, but the NHS does not recommend this as it doesn't help your body to adjust naturally to its new time zone.

At your destination

  • Exposure to daylight

The cycle of natural light and dark is one of the most important factors in setting your body's internal body clock. Exposure to daylight at your destination will usually help you adapt to a new time zone faster.

  • Moderate exercise

A short episode of moderately intense exercise may help reset your body clock after arrival.

  • Make an effort to fit in

Try to fit your daily routine and activities into the new time zone as soon as possible- eat when they eat, sleep, or at least rest, when they sleep.

Adjusting your medication to a new time zone

Travellers who have a pre-existing medical condition who have to take their medication to a strict timetable (such as diabetics taking insulin) should seek medical advice from their doctor before undertaking their journey.

If you do have a medical condition which requires you to take medication on holiday with you make sure that you choose a travel insurance policy that provides cover for loss of medication.

Which way is worst?

Many people find that jetlag is worse when they travel from west to east because the body can find it harder to adapt to a shorter day than a longer one. Therefore on a trip from London to New York jet lag is likely to be worse when you get home than it is when you arrive on your holiday, whereas those flying to Thailand will tend to feel worse on their outward journey than on their return home.

Don't forget travel insurance

Whether you are flying east to west or west to east travel insurance with cover for your pre-existing medical conditions is a vital part of the preparation for your holiday. are proud to provide worldwide travel insurance with no age limits and cover for all types of pre-existing medical conditions.

Get a quote for travel insurance »