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This article was published on January 19, 2015

    Your guide to surviving long-haul flights: What to pack, eat and do to avoid jet lag

    Your guide to surviving long-haul flights: What to pack, eat and do to avoid jet lag
    Jamie Tolentino
    Story by

    Jamie Tolentino

    Jamie Tolentino is currently working as a Digital Marketer at a Global Asset Management firm. She was previously an Innovation Strategist at Jamie Tolentino is currently working as a Digital Marketer at a Global Asset Management firm. She was previously an Innovation Strategist at Quirk London. Aside from writing for TNW, she also blogs on the Huffington Post UK.

    This article is presented in partnership with Booking Now, a new way to book from

    In today’s connected world, taking your business international is more commonplace than ever. Still, that doesn’t make long flights any more convenient.

    Here are some tips to make your long-haul travels easier and prevent or reduce jet lag.

    Before traveling

    Add the time of your destination to your phone

    When traveling for work, it can be easy to neglect smaller admin-related tasks like food, transportation and configuring the time. If you add the time of your home country and your destination beforehand, it will help you figure out when you’re likely to be sleepy or hungry.

    iOS devices have a world clock where you can add as many cities as you want, while Android has dual clock and widgets to add to your homescreen. Failing that, there are a plethora of world clock apps that you can download.

    Pack your eyeshades and earplugs

    It’s easy to forget eyeshades and earplugs on a journey, so pack them in your handbag or carry on suitcase. Make sure to clean them beforehand!

    Although some airlines do offer these goods, it’s reassuring to have your own. Some people are also sensitive to sound, so earplugs are good to take onboard.

    travel essentials

    Pick your seat in advance

    Checking in online comes with the advantage of picking your seats to the row and letter. This also gives you the advantage to pick the seat next to your travel partner(s).

    The earlier you check in online, the more seats options are available. Most online check-ins open 24 hours prior to your flight, so set a reminder to do so as soon as possible.

    Where you sit may not really matter for short-haul flights, but it can get annoying for long-hauls. You don’t want to be in a window seat if you anticipate using the toilet frequently; similarly, you don’t want to be stuck in the aisle seat next to the lavatory if you just want to be left alone to sleep.

    Pack the travel and beauty essentials

    As well as packing your smart outfits for your meetings, don’t forget to prepare your outfit for the flight. Laurie Berryman, Vice President of Emirates UK, recommends wearing something comfortable and breathable on board, and removing make-up before boarding in favor of a clear hydration mask to keep your skin refreshed while flying.

    Personally, I take a pair of socks (again, some airlines provide this, but some might not) for plane use and wear loose jeans or sweatpants to feel comfortable during the flight. It is also handy to have a toothbrush and floss (or toothpick) to avoid bad breath after the flight, a travel-sized comb to put your hair in place, and cologne or perfume to freshen up – especially if you need to head straight into a meeting post-landing.

    Factor in an extra hour or two from arrival to your first meeting

    Budget extra buffer time to allow for flight delays, misplaced baggages or long immigration queues. If there are no delays, the extra hour would be good for you to change, or have a coffee or snack to be alert and prepared for a meeting.

    Whilst en route

    Change to your destination’s time as soon as you board


    Berryman suggests to set your clock to the local time zone to more easily to avoid jet lag.

    In Emirates’ case, cabins are dimmed with stars on the roof in the evening and then a sunrise in the morning, set to the time-zone of the destination. Most airlines also try to serve food in the time that accounts for time zones changes.

    If you can, act according to your destination’s time with your eyeshades to begin adjusting once you board.

    Find ways to kill boredom during waking hours

    Make an upbeat playlist of your favorite music, bring a book and take advantage of the in-flight entertainment to keep you relaxed and happy on the plane. In some regions of the world, airlines will allow you to use mobile devices (in airline mode) on board, so download movies before the flight to keep entertained offline.

    If you need to do work or further meeting preparations, make sure all your devices are fully charged and ready to use on the plane. Bring your USB cable as well, as newer and larger aircrafts now have slots built into the seat monitor in front of you.

    Lay off on the alcohol

    It may be tempting to get alcohol on air but the effect of alcohol intensifies at a higher altitude, so you will become intoxicated quite quickly. If you don’t know your drinking tolerance on a plane, it might be best to avoid this altogether as you don’t want this to affect your preparation for landing.

    Alcohol can also leave you feeling exhausted after sleeping, which is not ideal if mixed with jet lag.

    Keep hydrated

    Drop of water falling in puddle

    Planes have low humidity, so it is important to keep hydrated by drinking lots of water. Also equally important is hydrating your skin on the plane by packing in a good hydration mask or moisturizer and hand cream. Besides, dehydration can also cause stress, headaches and irritability – the very things to avoid.

    Eat light and high protein to avoid jet lag

    Eating the right foods can leave a person 16 times less likely to suffer from jet lag. Hermann Freidanck, Singapore Airlines’ resident chef and Manager of Food & Beverage, recommends opting for a light meal that is relatively easy to digest as it’s best to arrive feeling slightly hungry.

    Eating a high protein meal once you land means you’ll be able to keep as active as possible in a bid to switch to the new time zone. Look for a meat or egg option in your meal menu instead of pasta or other carb-loaded dishes. Chili has also been shown to aid sleep and leave people feeling more awake the next day, so turn up the spice if you can take it.

    Combat travel sickness with ginger

    Ginger often quells the effects of travel sickness. It’s also a popular ingredient in some oriental cuisine, so airlines like Singapore Airlines may offer dishes that include ginger.

    If ginger is not available as part of the in-flight meal, consider ordering ginger ale from the drinks menu.

    Combat fatigue with zinc

    If you are going to be working during the flight or are heading to a meeting straight from the plane, it is recommended to ingest foods that will boost your brain power. Zinc, found in protein-rich foods, is linked to better intellectual performance in clinical tests.

    Eating protein with vegetables or fruit also provides the brain with the vitamins necessary for mental stimulation.

    At your destination

    Only nap when needed during daytime

    Young business couple sleeping and enjoying the flight in the small private airplane.

    It’s okay to take a rest, but try not to sleep for more than two hours during the daytime. Aim to hit the sack at 10 PM to readjust to the new time zone.

    You may want to set up an alarm for your naps to avoid oversleeping. Your eyeshades and earplugs may be useful for napping during the day.

    Try to get natural sunlight during the day

    Daylight is a natural stimulant that helps regulate the biological clock, so if try to select a window seat in the meeting room with the sun shining on you.

    Check the room for potential sleep disturbances

    Since you are sleeping in a new environment, check for light shining through the drapes and other unwanted in-room noises. Again, your eyeshades and earplugs can help with this as well.

    Set up at least two wake up calls

    Since you are at risk of jet lag, you might not hear the first alarm or wake up call. Be sure to set up a second one just in case! After all, additional noise is lesser of an evil to being late to an important meeting overseas.

    What other travel tips do you swear by? Let’s hear them in the comments below.

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