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Jet-lag to Jetsetter: How to Survive a 15-Hour Flight

By March 30, 2017November 24th, 2018One Comment

My most recent travel adventure involved flying to Asia Pacific for my full-time gig. Boston > Sydney > Hong Kong > Boston… all within a 10 day timeframe. I spent countless hours wandering through airports in a state of delirium with a creaky neck and sore behind. If you want to avoid jet-lag, please learn from my misfortunes.

DO: Upgrade to avoid jet-lag

Prior to this far east expedition, I had never flown a leg that lasted more than 7 hours. To ease my air travel claustrophobic tendencies, I sprung for an economy plus seat. During this flight, I received my first choice meals, free drinks (don’t go overboard), and more than enough legroom.

I was even able to carefully climb over the woman in the aisle seat while she was sleeping. Don’t try this at home kids, this could have very easily gone wrong. Having both experiences on this trip, the 250 dollar upgrade was money well spent. Speaking of seating…

DO: Choose your seat wisely

So for the better part of my flying career, I have been a window seat person. I have an overwhelming urge to snap about 5,000 photos of the plane wing, despite the fact that the pictures never get beyond my camera roll. How could I miss that classic plane wing sunset, drift through the clouds, or the ‘I’ve landed’ shot!. Window seats also have the advantage of a built in wall to rest your head on.

red-eye-jet-lag-survive-15-hour-flight-by-jeanne-harran

I’m shocked the three of us look so happy to endure jet-lag while our red-eye flight gets delayed!

If you have not known your seat mate for more than the 5 minutes DO NOT choose the window seat. Aisle is your friend here. On the way home, my neighbor had just come out of leg surgery days before boarding! He had extreme difficulty remaining seated with his legs fully under the seat, never mind standing up.  During the duration of a 12 hour flight back to the states, I was only able to pee once. If you are chugging water like you are lost in the Sahara, this becomes a problem. Which leads to my next piece of advice.

DO: Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate, and did I mention Hydrate

OK Ok, so this piece of advice is in almost every article about air travel tips. There is a reason for that, it is possibly the best advice regarding air travel. Once the flight is in cruising altitude, the first thing flight attendants do on long hauls is hand out a bottle of water.

Dehydration is one of the primary symptoms travelers suffer from. Don’t be afraid to ask for a top-up on water throughout the flight. Also, even if the alcohol is free aboard, I’d recommend skipping it. It will only make matters worse. Being ‘comfortably numb’ isn’t so comfortable when you wake up hungover and you still have another 6 hours to contend with.

Hydration shouldn’t just be for your insides! Be sure to pack plenty of moisturizer, I find udderly smooth to be super handy and easy to pack.

DON’T: Wear business casual attire in flight

I get it. Sometimes work trips involve making a mad dash from your client meeting to the airport. Sometimes you need to hold the world record in the 100 meter dash to arrive at the gate on time. But ladies can relate; sitting for hours on end in in spanks and a pencil skirt is no fun. If changing before the flight is impossible, pack stretchy yoga pants or your favorite sweatshirt to curl up in.

DON’T: Take a nap at your final destination

Of all the mistakes I made, this is probably the one I regret the most. After a twenty-four trek I arrived in Sydney just after the sun rose. Sleeping on planes is pretty difficult for me, I was feeling the effects of jet-lag quickly. I managed to get to Coogee Beach, grab lunch, and soak up some of the sun down under. DON’T fall asleep without any sunblock on! I was only asleep for a few minutes, but boy did I pay for that mistake.

In addition to this cat nap, I made the mistake of taking another nap before dinner. I woke up at 1am in the early stages of starvation with nowhere to go. Talk about being hangry. In all seriousness, upon landing do your best to follow the sleep schedule in the local time zone. Exposure to daylight affects your circadian rhythm, and you will adjust much quicker if you follow this tip.

To avoid jet-lag, plan ahead to ensure your plane ride is as painless as possible!

Jeanne Harran

Author Jeanne Harran

Jeanne is a digital creative by day who is always itching to take her next adventure. She was bit by the travel bug while living in London in 2007 and has been exploring ever since. You can find her on Instagram @jmharran.

More posts by Jeanne Harran

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