All posts in Travel Pharmacist Tips

Tackle Jet Lag

Tackle Jet Lag

Jet lag – those awful words! You can’t keep your eyes open long enough to snap that long-awaited vista. The hotel pool has a lovely swim-up bar, but you’d rather curl up in the room and sleep for hours. Most travelers have had at least one instance of this annoying condition while on vacation. Beating jet lag will give you back valuable time to enjoy your time away. Jet lag is a crafty thief. The groggy, sleepy, grumpy, not being able to concentrate on anything more than laying your head down on a pillow feeling steals away precious vacation and travel time.

What you want to do is go out and see the sights of the new place where you’ve just arrived. Instead, your body is telling you in no uncertain terms that you must waste hours sleeping until your body’s inner clock rights itself.

Sometimes jet lag presents itself during the night as insomnia. Other daytime symptoms include poor concentration, confusion, hunger at inappropriate times or lack of appetite, and general irritability.

The medical term for jet lag is desynchronosis. But what causes this combination of unpleasant feelings and disorientation? When your body moves faster than your inner clock can keep up – such as flying over several time zones – jet lag can occur. It’s your body’s way of resetting itself to your new surroundings. Typically jet lag is worse when flying from west to east, but for some people it can occur whenever multiple time zones are crossed.

We all agree it’s something we’d rather not deal with, so what can we do to avoid it? As the Travel Pharmacist, I’m often asked how to avoid jet lag or how to tackle it completely once you’ve arrived.

Here are a few tips…


1. Opt for the red-eye. If possible, schedule your flight so you’re sleeping when your body feels like it should be sleeping. Overnight flights allow more time for the body’s circadian rhythms to adapt.

2. Stay hydrated. Pressurized airplane cabins have the ability to drastically dehydrate the body and when you’re dehydrated, you don’t feel well. Keep sipping water throughout the flight.

3. Start a few days before the trip. If you’re going to be undergoing a long haul flight, it often helps to get your body used to the time zone changes ahead of time. Plan meals and bedtimes around the new time zone. This works especially well for young children who might not understand why they feel so bad after a long plane ride.

4. Avoid caffeine. While it’s tempting to keep the coffee supply coming, caffeine can be both dehydrating and disrupt normal sleep patterns.

5. Sleep on the plane. For this one, some people can and some people can’t. For those that can’t, ask your doctor about a prescription short acting sleep aid to get your body enough rest.

6. Avoid alcohol. Another major actor for dehydration and ruining sleep rhythms.

7. Set your watch to destination time and pretend you’re already there. This works very well for most people to decrease jet lag symptoms. As soon as you’ve on the plane, your watch and your mind are working together to put you in the new time zone.

But what if you’re already suffering from jet lag – is there any hope for relief? Yes!


1. Try over-the-counter melatonin. Melatonin is naturally secreted in our bodies and helps regulate our circadian rhythms so that we sleep at night. The suggested dose is 3 milligrams of melatonin an hour or two before bedtime at your destination. Then give yourself at least 9-10 hours to rest completely. You may wake earlier, but your body will have gotten the rest it needs.

2. Sunshine. Get outside in the sun as much as possible. Normal daylight will stimulate the body to produce chemicals you need for clearer brain function.

3. Take off your shoes and try earthing. While there isn’t a great deal of science to back this one up, many travelers find that putting one’s bare feet on the ground at your destination will stop jet lag in its’ tracks. It should be the actual ground outside and not a floor, and walking around for a few minutes wiggling your toes in the grass brings even more relief. I haven’t actually tried this one, but imagine it would be lots of fun.

4. Because a big part of jet lag is attributed to the body’s dehydration, sipping an oral re-hydration mixture may be the answer. Chock full of body-soothing electrolytes and salts, a product like RecoverORS can help put you back to normal. I also like RecoverORS to treat traveler’s diarrhea, heat exhaustion, sea sickness, and food poisoning. Overall, it’s a great travel health product to have around.

5. Coffee! The old standby that gets us through so many sleepy afternoons back home may also be helpful for combating daytime jet lag symptoms. The caffeine acts as a stimulant to kick the brain into full-functioning gear. Avoid too much caffeine after 3pm, as it may make it harder to sleep in the evening.

Here’s to Happy, Healthy Travels!


Lisa Chavis, RPh ~ The Travel Pharmacist

As with all medical conditions discussed on the Internet, check first with your doctor before using any alternative treatments.

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5 Ways to Use the CDC Travel Health Resources for International Travel

5 Ways to Use the CDC Travel Health Resources for International Travel

When planning a trip out of the country, you’re faced with a long list of questions. What should you know to stay healthy and safe?  What should you pack? Do I need special vaccines before the trip? Fortunately, the CDC Travel Health (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website has an extensive collection of easy-to-access resources to help you make the most of your international trip.


VISIT A TRAVEL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL. If you’ve made your plans in advance, use the CDC Travelers’ Health “Find a Clinic” feature ( to schedule an appointment at a clinic near your home. Ideally, these visits should be at least a month before you travel. Meeting with a travel health specialist first can help plan your schedule of vaccines needed and what medical precautions you may need to take.

GET VACCINES AND TRAVEL MEDICATIONS. Not only will you need to be up-to-date on all routine vaccinations, but there may be country-specific requirements and recommendations. Check the “Vaccines and Medicines” table for your destination to find out what vaccines you will need. Keep in mind that your doctor’s office might have to order the vaccine, so give yourself enough time.

PACK SMART. Every destination on the Travelers’ Health website includes a “Healthy Travel Packing List” to help you enjoy your vacation to the fullest. Using the list feature helps decrease anxiety of possible leaving behind an important item. From packing the right clothes to preventing diseases to treating minor illnesses, you’ll find a wealth of trusted information from the CDC.


BE IN THE KNOW. News reports of Zika, Noro, and Ebola virus outbreaks can be frightening. Look to the “Resources for Travelers” on the CDC Travel Health page to find information on current travel health topics as well as any health warnings of which to be aware. Here you’ll also find helpful articles on making safe food and beverage choices, preventing bug bites, road safety, and how to get medical care overseas. Travelers who are pregnant, senior citizens, and families with children will also find resources to make their time abroad safer and more enjoyable.

APPS ON THE GO. Use your smart phone or tablet to keep important CDC functions at your fingertips. Available for both iOS and Android, the TravWell and Can I Eat This? apps help you prepare for healthy travel as well as make safe food and beverage choices while you’re abroad.

TravWell lets you build a trip to get vaccine recoomendations, a “to-do” list to prepare you for international travel, and a customizable packing list where you can add, remove, and check items off your list as you pack. With this app you can also store travel documents, keep a record of your immunizations, and set reminders to get vaccine booster doses or to take medicines while traveling.

Can I Eat This? helps you avoid one of the Top 5 Vacation AilmentsTraveler’s Diarrhea. You select the country you’re in and answer a few simple questions about what you’re eating or drinking. The app will then tell you whether it’s likely to be safe. This app can help keep you healthy while traveling and trying new foods.

The CDC Travel Health network provides one of the largest and most trusted sources of information regarding your travel health – so use them! Visit on the web, Facebook at and Twitter at @CDCtravel.

Safe and healthy travels!


Cruise Health: Avoiding Norovirus – The Travel Pharmacist

Cruise Health: Avoiding Norovirus – The Travel Pharmacist

Thinking of going on a cruise? I’m sure you’ve heard all of the horror stories. The dreaded Norovirus Illness – scourge of cruise ship passengers all around the world! Travelers are afraid – and with good reason. Who wants to waste precious (and costly) vacation time feeling as though you’d rather die than face the buffet line? Cruise ship cabins come with many amenities, but spending time getting intimately acquainted with the bathroom isn’t anyone’s idea of a good vacation.