Don’t let jet lag ruin your business trip: tips from experienced travellers

Investor and entrepreneur Matt Haycox learnt the hard way about the ill-effects of jet lag when travelling for work. He says: “In the early days, jet lag would kill me, and I wasn’t giving my businesses the best version of me, but instead a tired and underwhelming shadow of myself. This often resulted in poor decision making and communication.”

He is by no means alone. A study by Kayak and Airbus found that jet lag costs UK businesses £241 million a year through mistakes made by jet-lagged staff. According to its findings, jet lag affects travellers for an average of 2.2 days per trip and impacts 53 million work days for UK professionals each year.

The causes of jet lag are well understood - body clocks are disrupted by crossing time zones causing symptoms such as fatigue, disorientation and an inability to sleep - but preventing those ill-effects is a harder task.

A frequent-flyer shares his jet lag prevention tips

Learning from other people’s experiences is a good place to start if you want to minimise the disruption caused by jet lag. Matt estimates he flew more than 100 times last year alone, and has honed the following game-plan for minimising jet-lag. He says:

  1. Don’t touch alcohol! I used to make the common mistake that pre and during flight drinks would help me sleep, but it’s actually the worst thing you can do, causing dehydration and restlessness.
  2. Do touch water! Staying hydrated means staying fresh, so I always drink litres of water before, during and after a flight.
  3. Fly as well as you can. Getting the most restful, comfortable flight is a big difference maker, but not everyone has the opportunity to upgrade their tickets - it took me many years to be able to do so. However, there are definitely ways everyone can maximise their flying experience to help with the jet lag. This could be simply doing your online research as to which airline has the most leg room, or checking in as early as possible to get extra leg room seats.
  4. Work the jet lag out. Exercise is a regular flyer’s friend as it seems to reset your body into game mode. When I land at the other side, I try to fit in a work out, run, or some form of exercise before I go to any business meeting, and this definitely helps my state of mind.
  5. Know why you’re travelling. Ultimately, you’re not going on holiday, and you’re there to get something achieved. As such, like most of business really, if you get on the plane with a clear vision of what you are going to do at the other end, then you’ll almost screen out the jet lag as noise that is getting in the way of your desired outcome.

Plan ahead

Tom Bourlet is another business traveller whose frequent trips across time zones have prompted him to hone his defences against jet lag. Tom, who travels frequently for business with TheStagCompany and also runs travel blog Spaghetti Traveller, says: “I’ve been to over 20 conferences so far this year and it can be very tiring when jumping off a plane and going straight to a conference where I have to network”.

For Tom, planning ahead can make a difference. For example, he says: “With a meeting and conference in San Francisco, there was a hefty eight-hour time difference to tackle. I have found adjusting my time beforehand works perfectly. I went to sleep the day before at the California time rather than UK, so it would be easier to adjust once I was there. I also changed to California time on my phone the moment I got on the plane, so I could psychologically adjust.”

And remember, you don’t need any other headaches when you’re there. So make your life easier by ensuring you are generally well-prepared for your trip. Plan as much as you can in advance including airport transfers, accommodation for the whole trip and foreign currency - use your FairFX Corporate Card for market-leading exchange rates abroad.

Try technology

Some travellers swear by technology. AirHelp, a flight compensation company, points to tech hacks, such as Neuroon, a “smart sleep” mask, The GloToSleep Mask, which uses gently dimming light to help you fall asleep, or SeatGuru App, which lets you avoid seats in galleys, near washrooms and at the back of a plane, which are bumpier.

Or you can very carefully pick which planes you fly on. Skyscanner says Airbus A350s and A380s are two of the best planes for anyone hoping to beat jet lag. They have hi-tech humidification systems, which help the air retain moisture, and lighting systems which simulate sunrise or sunset.

Many airlines offer their own jet lag remedies. Virgin Atlantic, for example, has started offering Upper Class travellers a hot towel infused with oils, and for overnight flights, a deep sleep pillow spray, which it says is clinically proven to improve sleep quality and aid a better more restful night’s sleep.

BA, on the other hand, provides tailored advice online; travellers input details of their trip and it advises them on the best things to do to minimise jet lag.

Have more fun

For Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson, the solution is simple. “I have found that the best way to deal with jet lag is to simply live in the moment,” he wrote in a blog, adding “Try not to worry too much about being in a different time zone. I’ve concentrated on having plenty of fun in each destination, and time has flown by.”

Looking for more tips to help your business better manage its finances and overseas travel? Check out the Travelling for Business section of our blog.

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