The Jet lag Free, Long Haul Flight

Avoiding jet lag begins before you even board. Find out the easy way to stop jet lag before it happens.

Regardless of where in the plane you sit, window, aisle, front or back; jet lag can affect anyone on a long haul flight. You could be a solo traveller, a couple or a single parent with a toddler, it doesn’t matter. Jet lag is the one financially negligible aspect of flying. It’s physics, you can’t change the laws of physics… or can you?

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You already know all the basics to avoiding jet lag like drinking plenty of water, avoiding alcohol, small meals yada yada but anyone can learn to overcome jet lag on your next long haul flight, without pills, lie-flat business class seats or alcohol.

It all starts before you board. It helps if you have a dual time watch, or you can utilise the world clock on your phone but once you’ve checked in, and passed through security, check what time it is at your destination. Is it dinner time? Night time? Morning?

From the moment you get on the plane, adjust every activity according to what time it is, at your destination. Imagine that as soon as you step on the plane, you pass into a different time zone. If this means going to bed two hours after boarding, so be it. If it means staying awake for 8 hours, then going to sleep, then that’s what it has to be.

By pre-adjusting your body, mentally and physically to your final time zone means by the time you arrive, you’re already operating on London time or New York time or wherever you are. Jet lag doesn’t have a chance to sneak in.

Sleeping in economy is the stuff of nightmares, but as a tall guy I’ve found a few things that work, every time. Just like sleeping at home, stick to a bedtime routine; clean your teeth, shoes off, get comfortable, change shirts if need be.

Noise cancelling headphones changed flying for me. Of course foam earplugs are a cheap alternative but blocking out the rest of the plane, with some sleepy time music, the Flowing app (forest sounds but it works with your music, so you can play classical music, and then play rainforest and birds over the top), or some downloaded ASMR recordings can help create a relaxing space to help you sleep.

Sign in to Apple Music to download this ASMR playlist for your next flight.

I’ve been through half a dozen pairs of noise reducing headphones including ones from the Qantas in-flight shopping catalogue, Sony and my favourite ones are a pair of TDK bud style earphones that were $30 from the airport, because it means if I turn my head into my pillow, they’re not going to dig in or stop me form turning my head. They have a 3.5mm plug but come with an airline adaptor for watching movies. Most importantly, they take up minimal space and easily fit in your pocket, or the seat-front pocket along with your iPad. I find the over-the-head ones too bulky to try and sleep in.

Seats still come down to personal preferences but the row behind the emergency exit row, often has extended legroom without additional fees. I remember one seat on an Emirates A380 that was a window seat, but because there was an emergency row in front, there was no seat directly in front. Basically you had a window seat so you could lean your pillow against the wall, with the legroom of an exit row. Of course the tv was in the arm rest though.

Neck pillows (too hot) and airline pillows (too little) are never as good as a home pillow but Spotlight and other outdoorsy stores sell small travel pillows, including memory foam, so they can resemble your normal bedtime pillow. With your own pillow case, you’ll feel more relaxed. Decathlon sells inflatable travel pillows in different sizes, as well as squishy pillows that open up to a bigger size. I got one free with a $40 sleeping bag.

Like meditation, sleeping on a plane is about forcing yourself to sleep. Practice in the weeks beforehand with timed 20 minute naps, to get yourself into the habit of switching off. It is hard sleeping on a plane because there’s lots of distractions, but by blocking out as much of the noise, light, and people, and putting yourself into a quiet happy place, you can force yourself into sleep (or at least an extended nap).

If you have a long transit between flights, then the Priority Pass will give you access to over 700 transit lounges globally. Receive $8 cash back when you book, and $5* towards your pass with Cash Rewards which is free to join. Basically it’s free money. *Make a qualifying purchase within 90 days ie by booking your Priority Pass.

When you arrive at your destination, it’s important to resist that afternoon rest, and stay out, keeping busy, ideally in fresh air. If you catch the sunset, even better as it helps to reset your natural body rhythm. Going to bed at a relatively normal time like 9pm will mean you’re far more likely to wake up the next morning, feeling refreshed, and jet-lag free.

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