Thursday, January 23, 2014

My Top Travel Essentials For A Jet-Lag Free Flight

When I landed in London after spending two weeks in Seattle, I expected to suffer from jet-lag quite badly during the following week. But it actually took me less than two days to fully adjust to the GMT time zone again! I was surprised, but chalked it up to the following products that I always stash in my carry-on and a few other strategies I have for long flights. I thought I'd share this with you since so many of my readers are globe-trotting jet-setters and it's something I often think about during my trans-continental trips.

1. I always carry a huge bottle of water on the plane. I really dislike the taste of Dasani (which is one of two options available at SeaTac airport) but I usually pick up a bottle of Evian at Heathrow. Although water is periodically served on the plane, cabin air is extremely dehydrating, so you'll need more than one measly plastic cup of water during the flight. I glug as much as I can during the flight (hence the reason why I always request an aisle seat!) and make it my goal to finish the whole bottle before I disembark. I strongly believe that keeping hydrated helps fight jet-lag on the other side.

2. Now, I don't know about you, but my skin feels awful when I'm on the plane. Dry, parched, and stretched tight, it doesn't matter how many moisturizers or serums I've slathered on pre-flight - 6 hours later, it's feeling pretty uncomfortable. My secret weapon is, without a doubt, the Avene thermal spring water spray. It comes in a convenient travel-size bottle (and is TSA approved) and is very inexpensive. I mist this over my face every two hours or so and it instantly soothes and refreshes my skin (I do it to John too on long-haul flights and even he admitted that it felt nice!). Of course, there are arguments that it's "just water", but I've been using this on my face consistently for the past few years or so and I really feel that the mineral qualities of this particular type of water have had positive effects on my skin.

3. Thirdly, my eyes hurt - SO BAD - on flights. They get so dry, I can barely blink (and that's without contacts in - never fly with your contacts in during long-haul flights, it's so bad for your eyes!). They hurt the most when I wake up from a snooze, so I use liquid gel drops. These are thicker than normal re-wetting drops and the effects last much longer. They're like an instant balm for your eyes. Magical.

4. I know I'm making my plane journey sound like the ascent up Everest, but seriously - how chapped do your lips get on a long flight? Mine feel terrible mid-flight. My trusty standby is always Burt's Bees original lip balm. The minty flavor is refreshing and the menthol is cooling on dry lips. And it's a good substitute if I forget to bring the next product ...

5. ... which is an Olbas inhaler stick. I've only seen this in the UK, but I'm sure you can buy something similar (and probably better!) in the US. I suffer from allergies and sinus problems on a regular basis, so my poor nose gets super irritated on long flights due to the extremely dry cabin air. And while I can't bring a humidifier with me on the plane (or hold any elaborate make-shift steaming sessions), an Olbas stick really helps keep my nasal passages (eww ... what a gross phrase!) clear and happy. If I don't have an Olbas stick with me, I rub a little Mentholatum or Burt's Bees under my nose for that soothing menthol kick.

6. Finally, the all-important eye shade. Buying the right kind of eye shade is extremely important. I used to love the lavender filled kind, as the scent was so comforting, it'd help lull me straight to sleep. But recently, John bought a version that cups your eyes, rather than resting directly on your eyelids, so that there's space for you to blink and you don't feel any pressure at all on your lids, which was a revelation (though my mom did giggle and point out that it looked like a mini bra when I showed it to her - sooo mature, mom). Anyway, these are terrific and have made a huge difference to how I sleep on planes. I find that I can sleep for much longer with this type of eye shade and for more continuous periods of time.

Ok, so I think my Number #1 tip for a jet-lag free flight is ... avoid alcohol. I know, I know, those little bottles of wine they serve with your meal on British Airways are so appealing and you think that wine will help you unwind and relax, sending you off to a restful night's sleep. Wrong. Alcohol is extremely dehydrating and you're more likely to sleep fitfully and wake feeling groggy when you land. If I'm really tempted by that wine, I've learned to accept the bottle and tuck it into my bag for later, after I've reached my destination (it's party time!).

The bottom line is, if you want to sleep well on a long flight or simply feel better on the other side, drink lots of water (more than you think you'll need) and stay away from alcohol! (But don't stay away from the on-flight entertainment system because that's always been my way of catching up with the latest movies :))

Happy travels!


  1. Great list Jaime! For American travelers... My mom got me this Neti Stick for Christmas (and a neti pot... I guess I'm always complaining about dry nasal passages) and it's great:

  2. Definitely purchasing one of the cup eye shades for my next long haul!

  3. Alix, I use a neti pot on a regular basis! The Neti Stick looks great - lavender is so soothing. I'll have to look for that next time I'm in the US or order it online.

    And Zoe, I was skeptical about the eye shades (plus, they really DO look like a bra, particularly if it's in a satin-y material) but they really do make the world of difference!


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