Tim’s Travel Tips: Surviving a Long Flight and Jet Lag

Everyone has an idea on how to deal with (not solve) jet lag.   Just before we left on our 14 hour flights (Newark to Shanghai and Hong Kong to Chicago), the longest direct flight premiered from Singapore to Newark, New Jersey.  There were quite a few videos on the event.  One I like particularly is below:

Leaving for our flight to Newark, New Jersey from Grand Rapids, Michigan we had to get up around 3:30 am.  You would think it would be easier to get some sleep later, but I always find it challenging to sleep on a plane.  Fortunately, Mary Ann and I did sleep some.  I must have gotten a few hours as I took some Dramamine (some turbulence at times) somewhere over the Arctic Circle awaking somewhere a few hours out of Shanghai.  The fellow beside me was a Chinese student that went to Princeton.  He pretty much didn’t move for 12 hours, slept for most of the flight, occasionally needing hot water (another tip I have heard).  A few hours out Mary Ann and I were able to have a nice conversation with him, asking how he was able to stay in his seat for so long.  “I was tired.”

Water, water, water.  Hydrate.  All throughout the flight and aftermath Mary Ann and I drank water.  By the time we landed in Shanghai it was 1:30 am EST in the United States, 1:30 pm Shanghai time.  It took a few hours to get through customs, meeting our partner Cam, and getting to the hotel in Shanghai.  We had a limited time in Shanghai as we needed to leave late the next day for Changzhou.  Shanghai at night was calling.  So we took an hour to sleep, went to dinner and headed out for the night.


Honestly, Mary Ann and I were dealing with jet lag fine during the week.  We ate local with fruits, soups, noodles, etc. and never a heavy “Western” meal.  It might have helped working 12 to 14 hour days constantly moving and not paying attention to how tired we were.  When it was time for bed, we didn’t collapse and sleep for hours.  5 hours maximum, but feeling pretty good.

Heading back home we took a flight from Hong Kong to Chicago and then a quick flight to Grand Rapids.  I heard the jet lag on the returning trip is worse and I think that is right.  Mary Ann and I got back Friday afternoon and I can’t say I got back to normal until Tuesday.  I would get up to the bathroom in the middle of the night and my body says, “I’m up!”  Mary Ann took longer as she also developed a cold, so it took her about a week to recover.

Of all the tips I have heard, sleep when you can and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate are gold.  Other than that, Mary Ann and I paid for Economy Plus seats which have more legroom, but in our sights was first class/business class.  Watching others lay out and sleep comfortably has made me officially jealous.  I don’t think that solves jet lag, but if you or your business can afford it, I am sure it would make the trip much easier.

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