5 flight attendants share their tips for battling jet lag

Water helps.

A United Airlines jet
A United Airlines jet. –AP Photo

If you’re traveling across time zones and fear experiencing jet lag, there are ways to combat it, five flight attendants said in recent interviews.

Brian Walsh, an American Airlines flight attendant based in Washington, D.C., said he keeps his internal clock on track by remaining on Eastern Standard Time.

“I always try to stay on my home time zone, no matter where I am,” Walsh said. “So, if I’m on the West Coast, I try to go to bed no later than 8 p.m. to try to keep with that normal bedtime routine.”

Walsh realizes it’s not always possible to maintain your regular routine when visiting another time zone, but, if you can, he said it helps with how you feel upon your return home. 

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Tim Brierley, a Boston-based JetBlue flight attendant, said it’s mind over matter when it comes to moving through time zones.

“I always set my watch to the time zone of my destination as soon as I get on the plane,” said Brierley. “I find that the less reminders I have of the difference in time zone, the better. There have been times when I have been feeling great after a flight, only to look at my watch and realize that it is actually 2:00 a.m. according to my body clock, which inevitably leads to me realizing how tired I should be, and then I feel tired. In short, ignorance is bliss for me. The less aware I am of what time it should be, the more easily I can trick myself into acclimating to the time zone I am in.”

One sure way to fight jet lag, according to the flight attendants, is to drink plenty of water.

“It’s important to drink more water than we normally would when we fly because the air is drier on a plane,” said Kristen Jefferis, a United Airlines flight attendant from Virginia. 

“Staying hydrated is essential, which is why I always bring a travel-sized humidifier with me on all of my trips,” said Ann Orlando, a Boston-based JetBlue flight attendant.

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Walsh agreed, adding: “Staying hydrated when you’re flying is very important to help you feel less groggy and achy when you get to your final destination.”

You can save money by bringing an empty water bottle through the airport’s security checkpoint and filling it up on the other side, Walsh said. The TSA requires bottled water in carry-on luggage total less than 3.4 ounces.

“Water and sleep, diet and fitness,” said Boston-based Delta Air Lines flight attendant Kristen Clary about how she battles jet lag. “I find that trying to eat well and squeeze in a workout, even when I’m tired, really helps me bounce back [from jet lag].”

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