7 Ideas to Fight Jet Lag

“When I retire, I am going to travel the world. Europe, Asia, tropical islands, exotic ports of call, “to infinity and beyond” – I will finally have time to do it all.” Every retiree-to-be wait in anticipation for the day when he can utter these words and start making plans to hit the road. For years we read our Via and Budget Travel  and Conde Naste magazines, tearing out glowing articles on those most interesting destinations and adding them to the ubiquitous “Travel Folder”.  Now in retirement we get to pull them out, dust them off and pick which one to do first…and second…and onward. As St. Augustine said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page”.

But when you get on that airplane bound for Timbuktu and you happily settle yourself in for the many hours it will take to reach your chosen destination, you are likely to bring along an unwanted companion whose presence can be annoying and downright tiring. He typically makes himself known once you have landed and are just starting to investigate your new surroundings, excited, curious, a little fearful, and suddenly VERY tired. Say Bonjour to Mr. Jet Lag.

Wikipedia defines Jet lag as the following: “Medically referred to as “desynchronosis”, it is a physiological condition which is a consequence of alterations to circadian rhythms. Jet lag results from rapid long-distance transmeridian (east-west or west-east) travel, as on a jet plane”. Basically your body experiences daylight and darkness contrary to what it is used to. The resulting tiredness, headaches, crankiness, and insomnia can last for days, roughly estimated at one day per eastward time zone and 1.5 days per westward time zone. The Upjohn Company did a study in cooperation with British Air Ways and United Airlines which showed that as many as 94% of the long distance travelers suffered from jet lag effects. Out of these, 45% considered their symptoms bothersome to a severe extent. The price of travel!

So what can you do to deal with Jet lag and get yourself back in rhythm as soon as possible?

Ideas to minimize jet lag:

1)    Drink lots of water – dehydration is one of the main causes of jet lag. Every site and article that I reviewed pointed to this as a must do to minimize the impact of long distance travel, so keep your whistle wetted.

2)    Avoid caffeine and alcohol before the flight as well as while in the air as this adds to dehydration which we do not want.

3)    Sleeping aids – ear plugs, blindfolds, neck rests, blow up pillows, earphones playing your favorite relaxing tunes, whatever helps you get some rest.

4)    Sleeping pills – although they may help you catch some sleep, it is not without risks. “How to reduce jet lag” states: “This is a dangerous approach as sleeping pills induce a comatose state with little or no natural body movement, and it is well-known that prolonged immobility during flight can lead to fatal blood clots (deep vein thrombosis). So be careful with this one.

5)    Adjust your schedule – start eating meals according to the time zone of your destination. You may also want to start getting in sync a few days before your departure, going to bed closer at the time you will be doing so when you land, as well as eating your meals. When you arrive, don’t take a nap but instead wait until the time you will normally go to bed.

6)    Melatonin – a hormone that aids in the control of the body’s circadian rhythm. Cathy Wong for  About.com: Alternative Medicine says “For jet lag, practitioners generally suggest taking a 0.5 mg tablet of melatonin a night for three nights, one hour before a normal bedtime. Research suggests that taking it once a person has reached the travel destination is sufficient, and that starting melatonin supplements prior to or during air travel may actually slow the recovery of jet lag, energy, and alertness.”

7)    Schedule your arrival for 9PM so you can get a night’s sleep early in the game.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. ~Mark Twain

It is not down in any map; true places never are. ~Herman Melville

Here’s to our many travels and the ultimate arrival at our “true places”. May we enjoy the journey that takes us there and savor each step along the way. If the price of admission is a little jet lag, let us do what we can to battle its effects and in the end accept the discomforts as small price to pay to have the wonders of the world ours to experience.


Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.

How to take a Memorable Vacation after you Retire

Ah, nothing better than a little vacation time. Your chance to get away from the daily grind, to journey to a new destination, explore, play, and just relax (or as my kids say, “chillax – part chill, part relax). After you retire, it is still important to get away to break up the routine. Boredom and doing the same thing can easily suck the energy and excitement out of your day. Plus there are so many places to go and things to do – you need to take advantage of it.

So you agree with your significant other that it is time for a getaway. You break out your trusty travel folder to see what looks good, you discuss it a bit, and you decide where to go.

NOTE: the travel folder is a must-have for every household. Basically a manila folder for collecting ideas on potential travel destinations. Fill the folder with pages from travel magazines or your daily newspaper, notes from TV travel shows with interesting places to visit, websites where you have discovered exotic options, and recommendations from friends. When I travel to a place that I think I would like to revisit, I enjoy wandering the area and investigating possible spots to stay upon our return. Many times have I dug into “the folder” to find a long-forgotten clip that turns out to be exactly what we are looking for now.

How to make the most of your vacation

(1)  Don’t try to do too much – we all know people who go on vacation and the minute their feet touch terra firma, their checklist of “things to do” kicks in. Horseback riding at sunrise, snorkeling at noon, tennis at 3, luau at 6, sunset cruise, then start over tomorrow. It never ends and just how relaxing is this pace? These are the same people who need a vacation AFTER they return from their vacation. Relax and enjoy along the way.

(2)  Quality over quantity – wherever you decide to vacation, there will be a few local points of interest. Find the HIGH points. Do a little research – talk with friends who have made the trip before to help you uncover the real gems. Research on the internet to narrow your options. Then pick SOME, the good ones. Take time to enjoy each at a comfortable pace to experience the full impact. You will more clearly remember and vividly relive these moments later if you focus on quality not quantity.

(3)  A little dab will do you – all that wonderful food…all the warm sunshine…all the tasty drinks. A little moderation will reward you big time and make your escape that much more enjoyable. Not recommending abstinence since these delights are an important part of why you are on vacation in the first place. But instead a taste…a bit…a sip. And thereafter a happy camper!

(4)  Don’t miss the sunsets – at the end of your day, with your loved one at your side, as activity gradually slows down, find a place to watch and  share the end of day. Inspiration in retired life can be yours. With a sunset, you never know what is in store and if there are a few scattered clouds, the results  are often  spectacular. No better way to finish the day and quietly contemplate whatever is on your mind.

(5)  Remember the point of your vacation is to  enjoy the beauty that is around you. Share the moment, appreciate the moment, relax in the moment, and smile. Life is good.

Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.