Jetlag - A Rambling Discussion

Often people ask me about passengering on aeroplanes, how to survive the trip and to lessen the effects of jetlag. Here is a rambling discussion on the subject - culled from my Facebooks posts.

red-sunrise over India
Trying To Beat The Sun - Jetlag Prevention

The trick to handling jetlag is to have an excellent flight experience. Don’t drink any alcohol after the first glass of welcoming champagne (oh, you're not flying first class?) .... 

It’s against the law to play your (flash-drive) Nano iPod during takeoff and approach, so you have to jam the device between your legs and use the pillow they give you on your lap. You don't need it as lumbar support because you already have the lumbar-roll you bought a few weeks ago jammed behind your back. 

Make a special ipod playlist .. for sad night takeoffs out of London, Hong Kong, New York, Sydney or Paris; Pavorotti singing
Nessen Dorma on max volume as the aircraft lines up on the runway. Otherwise Boogie Wonderland ... started as soon as the aircraft starts rolling.

Naturally if you are flying Emirates, you have preselected the forward camera on the screen in front of you before pushback. If you have a rejected takeoff, it's wise to turn any music off during the stopping phase so you can hear the emergency PA.

But it all starts way back - if you are flying economy. 

A few weeks earlier you join the frequent flyer program. It’s a must-do. More baggage allowance in some cases; online check-in, special meals ...

You must buy the
lumbar roll and a few pairs of the highest decibel ear plugs and get used to sleeping with them. These are the bright orange ones ... I think they are about 32db (read the fine print on the back of the pack - there are impostors). Scrunch them up, then to make a perfect seal, stick them in your mouth and wet them with saliva.

You'll need these if you are in the A380, cos unlike other planes they are extremely quiet, with little engine noise. This means that you hear everyone talking, babies crying and worse still, those two French guys three rows behind who quickly discover that of the 1,100 channels of entertainment available, Emirates have five episodes of Kath and Kim. They laugh out loud, and yell to each other everytime Magda walks in wearing her leotard and castigates Kim for being a inactive slob ...
which seems to be every three minutes.

Your ipod is your best friend. Make a playlist after locating
Absolute Sleep Music, which has heavy rain going for about 45 mins. Copy and paste it about twenty times on the one iTunes playlist so it can last about 14 hours. You'll use this if the earplugs don't stop the noise of the screaming baby in the row in front of you.

Audible.com is a great source of pleasure. For some reason, few people can read normal books on planes. You need about ten books to cover your various moods. Anything read by the author is a good start. Bill Bryson’s history of just about everything ... and anything else he has written. Jane Fonda's three volume life story, anything narrated by Humphrey Bower, Bryce Courtenay's The Power Of One and Brother Fish are excellent. Plus The Memory Of Running by that guy who was the judge on Ally McBeal ... Ron McLarty I think. And a few good who dunnits ... Graham Hurley's, and an Agatha Christie; plus The Accident Man ... which is a ripping yarn. That is, of course, I am assuming you have heard The Millenium Trilogy ... The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo etc., much better in audiobook cos the Swedish names are much better with the different voices.

Before you get to the plane you have worked out when they open the online check in, so you are online one minute after they open your flight and choose your own seat. Away from bulkheads where the babies are seated. That is, except the EK long-haul A380s rear bulkhead in economy, 'cos its near the Crew Rest in the back of economy and babies as banned from this bulkhead. Away from toilets and noisy crew galleys. I prefer an aisle so I can get out in a hurry.

Grab some anti-blood-clot socks by
JOBST ... they really work in making you feel fresh at the end of the flight and supposedly stop deep vein thrombosis. If nothing else, you can put your shoes on easily prior to landing.

And get some good eye shades. Aussie company
HIBERMATE sell some brilliant ones online, they incorporate ear muffs as well. I couldn't live without them, although if its really hot in the cabin sometimes they are too hot and I have to use the airline ones. To sleep well you need to block out all light.

On the way into the aircraft, after you have gone thru security, get your own bottle of water. EK give everyone a bottle, but you need more. 

Also grab a packet of bribes for the passengers around you. Chocolates or barley sugar. 

Walk for hours in the airport, don't stop walking! If you stop at KL or DXB or SIN, get out and walk, walk, walk. Get on early and claim the best overhead baggage space ... and see if you can steal an extra pillow.

Stand in your seat rather than sit. Make friends with the people around you by offering a chocolate or barley sugar. Psychologically they are under your spell the second they accept, and you can train them to crawl over-you when they want get out, and not wake you. Tell them to jump over you at any time. They will happily agree.
Remember, no one in the history of aviation has ever met a fellow passenger again after a flight, so don't feel bad about doing whatever you have to do to safeguard your sleep.

You have pre-ordered a low fat meal, and had already changed into comfortable loose-fitting clothes as soon as you got on board
(those of you not trying to get a staff travel seat can actually arrive on an aeroplane in this attire).

The special meals are delivered first. This is a bonus. You get to finish first, and being on an aisle, you can be up and race to the toilet before the masses. Treasure this moment. It's the last time you can use a clean toilet;  unless, of course you travel on Emirates A380 - where there are two Cabin Service Attendants who clean the showers
(so well you think you are in a hotel) and every twenty minutes go thru every toilet on the aeroplane, making them brand new. This is worth the increased price of an EK ticket over ScumAir whose dunny floors are floating in some kind of liquid. (Ralph Feinnes must be some sick puppy to wanna have sex in an aircraft toilet ...)

You then watch
Marigold Hotel or some other great first run movie. Don't watch Marley And Me. The Cabin Crew set timers on people watching tear jerkers ... and materialize in front of you the second the dog dies, or Seabiscuit wins the big race ... or even when Robbie Williams at The Royal Albert Hall says "Mum, this is your boy up here!"

Face facts, you ARE gonna drop a tear watching an airline movie at some stage. It's the hypoxia. And the Cabin Crew WILL catch you ... then tell everyone in the galley that you are a poof. Just don't blub on the passenger's shoulder next to you. As soon as the credits roll, race to the toilet. They have tissues in there.

After the movies, go for the lumbar support, pillow(s), ipod audiobook or the ear plugs. Every
90 mins your body goes thru a sleep cycle. When it comes, you could fall asleep given the right conditions. Note when it happens, and be ready next time. The dulcet tones of the audiobook may just achieve this for you. When you wake up, given practice, you can reach out, grab a sip of water and a barley sugar or chocolate and rewind the audiobook to where you can remember - all without raising your eye shade, and get back to sleep again.

When you arrive at your destination, walk, walk, and walk. Go out in the sun and stay awake all day -
(you may not be safe to drive) - to fit into the new destination's time zone.

If you get real jet lag, you will find that two and three days later you will get a serious urge to sleep in the middle of the afternoon. Don't fight it. Those two hours you'll sleep the best sleep of your life. If you have planned-it, and have no interruptions, you'll be right as rain on day four.

As an airline crew, I can attest that these systems work for passengers. 

Me? Well, I expect that my body will eventually be in the same place as my head
about five days after I retire.

(Written, with love, from a Raddison Hotel in Frankfurt Germany). 

Hotel room sleep is another subject:

Rule 1. NEVER turn ON a television in a hotel room. ( no airline crew has ever seen a full movie that they can recall .... and that SKYnews music will cause nightmares). 

Rule 2. Take clothes pegs in your suitcase to close the gaps in curtains when you have to sleep during the day. 

Rule 3. Very little alcohol 

Rule 4. Go outside, in all weather, and walk, walk ,walk! (Audiobooks are great for this but dont forget to look BOTH WAYS when crossing streets ‘cos the traffic in the country you are in is invariably going the wrong way). 

Rule 5. NEVER bring tea bags or any food into Australia ... you don't need to appear on that f#*£n Border Security show - trust me.