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By Savannah Henry, Guilford College

It’s a given that you’re going to experience jet lag. If you’re coming from the East Coast of the United States, you’re facing a five to six hour time difference (depending on daylight savings). Jet lag can potentially make you feel extra overwhelmed in your new environment; however, you can plan ahead to handle it better. Here are a few tips:

Before you leave:
1. Get a good night of sleep the night before you go. I know you’re probably thinking, “I’ll just sleep on the plane,” but being well-rested will help better equip you to handle the stress and physical toll of traveling.
2. Say no to caffeine and yes to water. Caffeine and artificial sugary drinks will affect your sleep pattern. So, if you’re already going through a time change, it will slow down your jet lag recovery time even further. Generally speaking, water and staying hydrated is great for your body. Making water your primary drink during your travels will help to decrease the effect of jet lag symptoms. PRO TIP: If you need some flavor, get some electrolyte drops to put in your water!

On the plane:
1. Set your watch to the upcoming time zone. Barcelona is in the Central European Standard Time zone. Setting your watch ahead of time will help you psychologically prepare for a new environment. Most likely, your phone clock won’t change until you land, so having your watch on the approaching time zone will assist your mentality. Plus, once you land, you’ll be in sync with your surroundings. When your sleep schedule is already off-set and you’re running on adrenaline, this little change can go a long way. BUT make sure you set your watch AFTER you get on the plane, so you don’t miss your flight by looking at the wrong time.
2. MOVE AROUND. If you’ve never gone on a long-distance flight before, you need to know that sitting down for too long isn’t healthy. Walk around the aisles a bit, go to the bathroom, and stretch. I’m sure you know the feeling of being super tired and then just feeling, for lack of a better word, icky. Keeping your blood flowing and your circulatory system in check will make you feel physically better. PRO TIP: It’s kind of like when sit on your hand or foot, and it falls asleep. A way to combat this is by wearing flight socks. They compress your feet up to mid-shin and improve circulation. Here’s a link to a pair!

1. Catch up on sleep! Now that you’re here, try to get the same amount of sleep you usually would in 24 hours. When I say that, I mean a healthy amount of sleep. Not your late-night-Netflix-binge sleep. If need be, take a short nap or two during the day. Trust me, everyone will understand.
2. Melatonin is your friend. Instead of pharmacy sleep-aids or Benadryl, try melatonin. It’s a more natural option that’s healthier for your body. Since it’s a hormone, it tricks your body into thinking it’s time to wind down, instead of knocking you out and leaving you drowsy when you wake up. The suggested dosage is 5 milligrams. PRO TIP: Buy it before you go – that way you’ll have one less thing to deal with and a smoother recovery.

In the end, jet lag is something everyone goes through. You won’t be the only one, and the people around you will understand. The most important thing is keeping yourself healthy. Don’t over-do it your first few days; you’ll have plenty of time to explore Barcelona.

Good luck and safe travels!

“How To Beat Jet Lag with These Simple Hacks.” AirHelp, 8 June 2019.

Savannah Henry

Savanna is from Illinois Wesleyan University, and studied abroad through a Customized Program in Spring 2017.