Pro Travel Tips for Safety and Beating Jet Lag
If you’re going to be traveling and crossing time-zones, you may be very excited at visiting a new place, eating great food, making memories..,
But there’s something unexpected that might sneak up and make a mess of your travel dreams: Jet Lag.
What is Jet Lag?
Jet lag is a temporary condition that travelers who go cross-country or overseas experience. The transition and change in time zones disrupts our body’s natural circadian rhythm and can cause a lot of discomfort.
Basically, you’re still operating on your home time zone, and it makes you extra tired or extra alert when you’re not supposed to be. It’s being sleepy at all the wrong times. Not only does jet lag ruin your sleep, but it will make you feel exhausted and fatigued during your travel time.
It can take a few days for our bodies to recover from jet lag.
How can we fight against jet lag and not let it get the best of us and our travels? Here are 5 proven ways to beat jet lag.
1. Use melatonin.
What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that’s produced by a small gland in your brain called the pineal gland. It’s secreted by the gland during nighttime but only works when there is no light (it stops secreting when there is light). It’s linked to our circadian rhythms that determine our sleeping cycle.
When taken before bed time, it will help your body to readjust to the new time zone by secreting melatonin at the proper time.
2. Tune out sensory distractions.
This includes TV, phone, laptop, etc. You’re in a new place! You’re not traveling across the world to look at the same screen that you are glued to at home or at work. Put down the electronic devices and tune out unnecessary sensory distractions close to sleep time. Your body and your travel partners will thank you.
3. Skip the coffee. Drink water instead.
Stay hydrated. And no, coffee is not hydration. Coffee acts to make you more dehydrated although it could be difficult to feel that way if you are drinking a lot of coffee whenever you get thirsty or tired.
Not only will coffee have caffeine that will give you a boost of energy but lead to a crash later on, it can leave you too wired to fall asleep at nighttime. This, plus the dehydration that coffee can bring, leads to a negative state where your body is functioning poorly and extremely fatigued.
This will exacerbate the effects of jet lag. Make sure to carry a reusable water bottle with you and if you are a coffee addict, try diluting your caffeine by increasing the milk (or milk alternative) level in your drinks and avoiding black coffee, cold brews, etc.
4. Don’t drink alcohol.
Wait, doesn’t alcohol help you to sleep? Shouldn’t I be drinking more if I want to sleep better during my travel? Who tells a traveler not to drink sake?!
Hear me out. Alcohol can be a pleasant and fun part of the travel experience (with appropriate self-control and precautionary safety measures taken while drinking in a foreign country). But for fighting jet lag — it won’t help. It will harm instead.
Take it easy on your body the first couple nights of travel, and opt to stay in until your body has adjusted well to the new time zone. You will thank us later as you’re able to enjoy much more of your trip compared to the short fun of a night out (too early on).
Now that you know how to beat jet lag, how can we make sure we have a safe trip?
1. Research before you go.
Research, research, and research. Yes, there is a lot of information online (like our blog here!). Supplement your online research with firsthand stories and tips from those who have been to your travel destination.
2. Start with local, small trips first
Don’t aspire for big trips if you are unsure about how things will go or if you are traveling solo. Start with small, local trips nearby and learn how to plan for a trip, how to prepare, and how to be safe when traveling alone. These little victories will help you be more confident in traveling by yourself.
3. Always be aware of your surroundings
Be aware constantly of who’s around you, what’s happening, and keep your eyes and ears open. This doesn’t mean to walk around in fear all the time, but make sure that you are aware of your surroundings. This can be harder than it sounds, so practice being more mindful when you’re at home before you start to travel.
4. Print and store both digital and print copies of your passport, and don’t carry it around with you.
Take pictures or scans of your passport and important documents and upload them to a secure folder such as Dropbox or Google drive that you can easily access. Also, send a copy to someone that you trust (like parents, spouse, sibling) so that in case there is trouble or you misplace it, someone can easily get it to the proper authorities.
Once you have a scan, also make a paper copy. That’s the copy that should be with you in case of emergencies. As for the real passport? Leave it in a secure place. There are many people who will approach tourists not only for their money and belongings, but for their identification documents that can then be forged and sold illegally.
5. Get an international phone plan to be able to contact and look up information.
Don’t rely on picking up free WiFi at public cafes. Depending on where you travel, the reliability of public WiFi can be very bad, and it can be difficult to find a source of internet. Instead, get an international phone plan (or get a prepaid international phone or SIM card) and make sure that you are plugged into data as soon as you arrive at the airport. The airport is the safest and your best bet for getting help in English, so make sure that you have everything firmly set before you step out.
6. Put away your phone when you are walking in public.
One of the biggest signs of being a helpless tourist is if you are not aware of your surroundings and walking around in public with your eyes glued to the phone. It’ll be easy for pickpocketers to steal from you, or those with worse intentions to approach you.
Don’t post about where you are at that moment. Delay your posts at least by a few days, so that people cannot track where you are and follow you.