The best and easiest ways to never get jetlag again

As with anything else in life, the more you fly the better you get at it.

That also applies to jet lag – or rather, how business travellers minimise the effects of jet lag to stay productive and make the most out of their trip.

Not every strategy is going to work for every traveller, but here are some practical ways to avoid jet lag or at least lessen its impact.

Time and time again

The most basic, of course, is to set your watch to the timezone of your destination at the very start of your flight and, as much as possible, get in sync with that timezone.

Be disciplined with yourself: don't fall for binge-viewing a boxed set of TV shows. Do some reading, watch a movie over dinner, maybe have a glass or two of wine if that helps you get to sleep.

If your airline of choice has a 'dine on demand' menu, all the better – you won't be tied to the cabin crew's meal schedule, so you can consider a lighter meal to begin and a main course closer to landing.

But regardless of when you eat, avoid heavy stodgy foods and try to get greens and grains into the mix.

Sleep schedules

Sleeping pills can make a substantial difference, not just on the flight but during the first few nights of your stay.

Natural supplements with valerian, the always-popular (and in the USA, available over the counter) melatonin or 'PM' medications containing antihistamines such as the drowse-inducing diphenhydramine, or prescription drugs such as zopiclone can all help shift your body clock into the right timezone.


However, try them first at home rather than when you're flying. Check the dosage against your tolerance: do you need more or less? Do you wake up fairly clear-minded  (good) or in a zombie-like state (very bad)?

An added helper: bring a tube of Berocca and drop one of those fizzy orange tablets into a glass of water on arrival and each morning before breakfast. The zinc, B and C vitamins are a natural pick-me-up (and also boost the immune system).

Modern perks

Depending on where you're flying to and which airline you're aligned to, lean towards modern aircraft such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 which are designed to reduce jet lag through lower effective cabin altitude, higher humidity and cleaner air throughout the cabin.

This isn't PR spin: every time I fly on either of those aircraft types, I step off feeling far less fatigued and much sharper compared to older jets such as the Boeing 777 or 747.

If your schedule permits, make your first day in a new destination a 'lighter duty' one. Avoid long back-to-back meetings in conference rooms.

Do shorter catch-ups; try to make them more casual than formal, and hold them in a cafe or even find a quiet park and walk as you talk.

Tactical flight times

If you're travelling to Asia, consider daytime flights on the way back. Overnight flights from Singapore or even Hong Kong back to Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne don't really provide enough time for a solid sleep, once you allow for all the disturbances of meal times.

While Qantas and Virgin Australia offer only overnights from Asia to Australia, the likes of Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific offer daytime flights where you can enjoy a decent breakfast at the hotel or airport lounge, work and relax during the flight, and be home for dinner with the family or just to crash in your own familiar bed.

A very specific twist to this, if you're travelling from Sydney to San Francisco: go via Melbourne!

Qantas has this week introduced a new Boeing 787 between Melbourne and San Francisco, and it's now the best way to make this trans-Pacific trip.

Hit the ground running

For starters, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner will see you arrive in much better condition than the rumbly old Boeing 747 jumbo jet. Not only does the Dreamliner have an anti-jetlag design but it's fitted with Qantas' latest business class seats which are far superior to those of the jumbo.

The flight timings are also better. The Sydney flight QF73 leaves at 12.45pm to reach San Francisco at 9am, so you've got to push through a long day – you might even arrive into the city to find your hotel room's not ready.

By comparison, Qantas' new QF49 is wheels-up from Melbourne around 10pm and  touches down in San Francisco at 7pm.

This means you can put in a day's work in Sydney, catch a domestic flight to Melbourne and have ample time to relax – especially if you hold Qantas Platinum, frequent flyer status, because this gets you into he superb Qantas first class lounge with its a là carte dining room and day spa which is open until 10pm, so you should also be able to snare an appointment for a massage or a hydrating facial.

Few people spend more time on planes, in lounges or mulling over the best ways to use frequent flyer points than David Flynn, the editor of Australian Business Traveller magazine. His unparalleled knowledge of all aspects of business travel connects strongly with the interests of Executive Style readers.

Follow David Flynn on Twitter