Lucky enough to come home for the holiday season, last Friday I took the two infamous flights from London to Melbourne. A somewhat seasoned traveller, I first flew the Australia to Europe route at the ripe age of five and have done it far more frequently since moving to London at the start of 2015.
Despite dedicating many hours to various jet lag avoidance research and trying out a number of tips, I seem to always find myself falling asleep at dinner tables at 7 or 8pm for the week following said flight. Until this time, that is.
With a take-off time of 9am Friday to ensure that I was back Saturday night to make it to a wedding on Sunday, my schedule allowed no time for jet lag and I was not about to fall asleep on another table! So, about a month prior, I made a commitment to the cause and declared war on jet lag.
While I knew one of the tricks of the trade was a shoe in – drinking enough water, and then some more – I had also read about another two tactics that I decided to employ. Firstly, research recommended getting yourself into the new time zone before you actually get there. This one seemed easy enough, after some simple maths I calculated that 9am in London was 8pm in Melbourne. Therefore, I would sleep on the first flight and not the second. This would also ensure that I was tired enough to sleep after arriving at 7pm Saturday night.
The second was not as easy. Having read that eating only fruit and veg, preferably raw, would conquer jet lag – a fact my work colleague (also Australian) confirmed Naomi Campbell endorsed and that she had once tried – I decided to give it a go. While booking my seats I also changed my meal preference to raw vegetarian, and then promptly forgot about the whole thing.
I rediscovered my actions when I went back into my booking to choose my seat a few days prior to my flight and was greeted with the sight of the fun times that awaited me as a raw vegetarian. Telling myself it was all in the name of the job and that I had a bright future as an investigative journalist ahead, I closed the browser and accepted my fate.
So, how did I go? Well, as planned, when I arrived at Heathrow I bought a 1.5 litre bottle of water and then promptly downed eggs florentine assuring myself it was my last real meal and therefore didn’t count. Once on the plane I took my sleeping tablets and was fast asleep before we’d even taken off. Annoyingly, as I’d ordered a ‘special’ meal the attendants felt the need to wake me up each mealtime to present me with said culinary delight. To be fair, the food was fine, mainly raw vegetables cut up or shredded (perhaps for extra excitement) and a few cubes of fruit to accompany as dessert. At one point there was some diced avocado in an edible tomato bowl. That was probably the highlight …
Like a good guinea pig I ate my vegetables with gusto, all the while internally drowning myself with as much water as I could humanly swallow. Thankfully, I had also brought a few miso paste sachets that, when combined with hot water, created a soup to keep me sane. At Abu Dhabi I had a quinoa salad with vegetables and chicken (I know this was semi cheating) and, you guessed it, more water.
Feeling exhausted, I decided that I could sleep at least for a few hours on the second flight given it was only 4am in Melbourne. In reality I was so exhausted I slept for the entire flight bar the final three hours, only waking to eat my raw vegetarian meals and scull water. Quite hungry in the last few hours and with no raw vegetables in sight, I resorted to a protein bar that I had brought, my second slight bend in the rules for the journey – or perhaps it was the third, but who’s counting?
I was now worried that I would not be able to sleep Saturday night. After disembarking the flight I headed home to a light and delicious dinner with my parents, washed down with an Aperol Spritz and some BBQ shapes (they don’t have them in London!). By 11pm I was exhausted again and collapsed into a deep slumber. While I did wake up at 4am I quickly fell back asleep until woken for breakfast again at 8am.
The wedding came and went and at a quarter to midnight, as the beautiful bride and groom were being carried out of the Great Hall at the NGV on chairs, I was not only still upright but dancing my heart out with my friends on the dance floor. With another full eight hour night’s sleep under my belt, I can safely say, copious amounts of water and raw fruit and vegetables are the only way I have ever successfully won the war against jet lag.
Have you ever avoided jet lag? What was it that worked for you? We’d love to hear your best tactic in the comments.