They fly all over the world yet always look fresh as a daisy. So how do airline cabin crew beat jet lag?
Smug, well-travelled folk often say the best way to beat jet lag is to turn left when you board the plane (read: fly business or first class). If you aren’t fortunate enough to follow their advice, there are still some ways to step off a long-haul flight feeling semi-human.
Jessica Gillis is part of Virgin Australia’s long-haul cabin crew and flies internationally almost every week. “My number one tip for air travel, particularly on longer flights, is to stay hydrated,” she says. While this might sound like a no-brainer, there are plenty of other tips she uses at work, and when she’s flying for a holiday, to minimise jet lag.
1. Prioritise rest the night before you fly
Believe it or not, minimising jet lag starts long before you take your assigned seat. “I like to make sure that get a really good sleep the night before my flight,” says Jessica. “I have a rule that I have to turn off my computer, TV and phone at least an hour before bedtime and spend this time winding down and relaxing.”
2. Pack your carry-on with as much care as your checked luggage
Avoid melt-downs at the check-in counter by making sure you’ve packed well. “The three things I can’t travel without are vitamin C supplements, my eye mask and a heavy-duty moisturiser,” says Jessica. If you’re flying economy, bringing your own pillow can make your flight significantly more comfy too.
3. Start hydrating before you fly
Get a head start on hydration before you get on board. “To make sure I arrive at my destination feeling refreshed, I try to drink at least one to two litres of water before take-off,” says Jessica. “I find that when I keep hydrated it minimises fatigue and improves my ability to stay alert during the flight, especially towards the last hours of the flight when I really need the energy.”
4. And stop to stock up on water before you board
It’s no surprise you’re going to need water and a lot of it. “My recommendation is to ensure you’re drinking a minimum of 200-400ml of water per hour,” says Jessica. “I recommend grabbing an extra bottle of water after clearing customs and keep drinking throughout the day,” says Jessica.
5. Do your usual evening wind-down ritual
Once you’re on board, begin the process of winding down the same way you would at home. “I definitely make it a priority when I get on board to remove my makeup and apply heavy duty moisturiser,” says Jessica. Now’s also a good time to slip into something more comfortable “I make sure I pack comfortable clothes to change into for the journey.”
6. Go easy on the booze
There’s a reason why people seem to get drunk much faster mid-air. “Consuming one standard drink of alcohol on the ground will feel like at least two standard drinks in the air, so avoiding or at least minimising how much alcohol you drink on a flight will help you feeling fresh on arrival,” says Jessica. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having a glass of bubbles to get your holiday started, just don’t go overboard. “My advice to guests is if you’re going to drink, that drink should always be followed by one big glass of water,” says Jessica. “I would also recommend limiting your alcohol consumption to the beginning of the flight so you can spend the rest of it sleeping, eating and hydrating.”
7. BYO snacks
Sitting in a seat for 12 plus hours is enough to make even the healthiest person binge out of boredom. Resist the urge to eat your weight in pretzels by BYO. “Sometimes I’ll bring my own extra snacks if I feel like something in particular. Fruit, nuts, health bars, boiled eggs and carrots sticks are some of my favourites,” says Jessica.
8. Order the healthy meal
When that meal trolley rolls around, the siren song of something rich and comforting can be seriously tempting but eating light will help you feel better when you eventually disembark. “It’s really important to have a healthy and well-balanced diet when flying as it will help ensure that your travel experience is as comfortable as possible,” says Jessica. “It’s so easy to fill up on unhealthy foods, however, I recommend picking the lighter healthier options.”
9. Sleep at every opportunity
That movie will still be there when you wake up, so if you’re feeling sleepy, just go with it. “What I recommend to guests who are travelling for a holiday is to sleep as much as they can, for as long as they can, during the flight,” says Jessica. “I also encourage them to change their watches to their destination time before take-off and try to adjust to this new time zone as quickly as possible.”
10. Don’t sleep away your first day on the ground
To go straight to bed or try and push through until bedtime? It’s the question that’s eluded weary travellers since the dawn on international air travel. For Jessica, her routine is always the same. “As soon as I get to the hotel I have a hot shower and get into some comfy clothes for a two-hour nap,” says Jessica. “No matter how I am feeling after I wake up, I always force myself to get my sneakers on, grab a coffee and go for a walk. The sun and fresh air always seem to make me feel better.” If you can muster the energy, moving your body really will fight the fatigue. “I spend the rest of the day going to the gym or sitting outside reading my book to try and keep me awake till when it is time to go to sleep,” says Jessica.