The worst part about coming to Paris is the travel (unless you live close, of course). I’m luckily not a nervous flyer, but any long-haul flight puts a lot of physical stress on the body. Arriving in Paris is exciting and you want to hit the ground running, but jet lag can get in the way. After going back-and-forth a few times (I had 18 long-haul flights last year), I’ve come up with a list of the best ways to avoid and cure jet lag and arrive in Paris feeling your best.
The day my flight departs I wake up as early as possible – unfortunately around 5 AM or earlier. This is partially because I’m a last-minute person and am usually not packed, but it also helps force myself to be tired for the flight. Try to avoid caffeine, but if you absolutely need some have it right when you wake up.
I try to workout or go for a walk just to move my body because I know I’ll be sitting for a while on the plane. It’s also really helpful to eat clean foods the day of a flight – you feel a lot better. I like to pack my own food for dinner on the plane so I know I’ll have something nutritious that won’t upset my stomach.
Clean Your Seat Area
Planes are filled with germs. I keep hand wipes in my carry-on bag so I never forget them. As soon as I get to my seat I wipe down everything I can see. If there’s a touch screen monitor be sure to wipe that down as well as tray tables – I always try to think about places that might be missed. It’s always a little surprising and gross to see how dirty the wipe gets. I also never use any water that doesn’t come from a bottle on an airplane, so after the restroom I always use hand sanitizer.
Hydration is the key jet lag cure for me. I can do all of the things that follow, but if I’m not hydrated none of them will work. I drink as much water with electrolytes as I can stand leading up to the flight. That doesn’t stop on the plane. The rule of thumb is to drink eight ounces of water per hour on the plane. The flight from Dallas to Paris is about nine hours, so I always have at least 72 ounces of water.
I buy five big bottles of Smartwater at the airport for every flight – technically three will do the trick, but I like to have backup for the car ride into Paris and for when I get to my apartment. You could also refill water bottles, but sometimes it’s difficult to refill big bottles at the airport.
I do like to have a little wine on the flight because it helps me sleep. I just make sure that for every glass of wine I drink I also ask for a glass of water. Throughout the flight I drink at least 40 ounces of water from my bottles – this is enough to make sure I’m hydrated, but also doesn’t keep me going to the bathroom every five minutes. As soon as they make the announcement that we’re landing in about 30 minutes I start chugging as much water as I can stand. It’s the ultimate jet lag cure!
Take Care of Your Skin
Although this won’t directly help you avoid jet lag, one way to make sure you arrive feeling your best is to take care of your skin. The air on planes is very drying, so it’s important to combat those effects. I keep a TSA-approved size travel pouch in my carry-on filled with skin essentials. Every time I get a skincare sample I put it in this pouch.
My routine is pretty easy. I usually don’t wear makeup on the plane so I can avoid taking it off, but if I do I remove it with wipes. Afterwards I spray my face with water and apply a mask, eye cream, and hydrating lip balm. When I wake up or before we land I spray my face again and apply a hydrating cream and lip balm.
For swelling, I always wear compression tights. I wash them after every flight and put them directly back in my carry-on so I don’t forget them. You can find great compression tights at most pharmacies in Paris.
Try To Sleep
As tempting as it is to watch a movie, trying to sleep is the best move. Even if you only get three to four hours it’s better than nothing. I keep an inflatable travel pillow with me in my carry-on.
Change into pajamas or something comfortable as a way to signal to your body to sleep. I keep my compression tights on but I take off socks because they make me too hot.
Some people take a sleeping pill, but Melatonin works perfectly for me and doesn’t make me feel foggy the next day. If you haven’t taken Melatonin or a sleeping aid before be sure to try it out at home before your flight.
Take Vitamin C
I don’t eat breakfast on the plane. Instead I take Vitamin C with water. Vitamin C just gives your body a little boost and helps your immune system – there’s no better jet lag cure than that!
A lot of people say it’s good to eat even a little something for breakfast on the plane as a signal to your body about the new time zone, but I’d rather just wait and have a nice meal or delicious croissant once I arrive in Paris.
Get Natural Light and Air
My dad taught me about the importance of blue light in the morning for the Circadian rhythm. This is especially important and relevant when you’re trying to avoid jet lag. As soon as I get in the taxi from the airport I roll down my window to soak in some of the light and fresh air.
Take a Shower
I’m obsessed with showering and love to get the plane germs off of me. Sometimes I’m so tired when I arrive that I just want to get straight into bed, but nine times out of ten a shower makes me feel so much better. It wakes me up and refreshes me. This leads to the next tip which is…
As tempting as it is to take a “quick nap,” you’re in Paris! Go outside and experience the city. Walk as much as possible and stop for coffees and food as needed. A glass of wine is fun at lunch, it is Paris after all, but try to limit it to one, otherwise you might get too tired.
On the day I arrive I don’t like to go to big museums or spend too much time inside because it makes me tired. If the weather is nice, I go for a long walk in the opposite direction of my apartment so I’m not tempted to come home for a nap. If you’re new to Paris and the weather is nice taking an open-air bus or boat tour is a great way to be outside and familiarize yourself with the layout of the city. This is the most helpful jet lag cure of all.
The only exception I make to this rule is if I didn’t sleep on the plane. If this is the case, I allow myself to take a two to three hour nap and I always set an alarm. As hard as it is to peel yourself out of bed sometimes, it’s so necessary!
My goal is always to try to stay awake until 10 PM or later on the day I arrive. It’s harder to do when I’m at home and don’t have a real reason to stay up, so I like to make a dinner reservation for 7:30 PM. It keeps you up and engaged and when you finish it’ll be bed time or pretty close to it. When I travel with friends we usually have such a good time that we want to have a glass of wine after dinner – staying up this late will definitely help to avoid jet lag.
Charge Your Phone Away from Bed
You’ll probably wake up in the middle of the night at some point. When this happens, it’s easy to reach for your phone and get caught up communicating with people back home, checking emails, scrolling through Instagram…whatever it may be. It’s hard to get back to sleep once this starts. To avoid temptation, charge your phone somewhere where you can’t reach it from bed.
Schedule an Activity for the Next Morning
It’s hard for me to jump out of bed the morning after I arrive, and especially so if I don’t have something scheduled for that morning. Reserve museum tickets or a tour for 10 AM that morning. It gives you enough time to sleep and have a breakfast before you start hitting the ground running.
Next time you travel to Paris try following this list…I bet it will help cure your jet lag!
Coming to France? I’d love to help you plan an unforgettable trip!