Thursday, November 12, 2009 ears!

One thing that still tends to bother me when I fly is the pressure on my ear drum. Even after 3 million frequent flier miles, I still have problems. I have tried nasal spray, decongestants, and antihistamines, but the one thing that helps the most is sucking on hard candy. Pick up a package before getting on the plane and keep them handy.

They also come in handy if a parent and child are sitting close to you and the child is experiencing pain. Hand the parent about five pieces of candy in case the plane has a lengthy descent or has to circle a few times.

If all else fails, I do something that I always saw my father do. I hold my nose shut and swallow hard. It is a little frightening. I am never sure if I may be damaging something, but when nothing else helps, this opens the Eustachian tube and lets the pressure equalize.

If I get off the plan and my ears are still blocked, I bend over with my head between my knees, hold my nose, and swallow hard. It looks silly, but when you are in serious pain, looks are the least of your worries

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How to get over jet lag

OK, you finally arrived and you have meetings first thing in the morning. How do you get over jet lag?

This varies from person to person. Most people say that flying east (from the USA to London) causes worse jet lag than flying west (USA to Tokyo). However, I have not found this to be significant in my case. The more significant factor is how worn down I am before making the trip. Some people go to bed an hour progressively earlier or an hour progressively later each night a week before the flight to get their bodies adjusted to the time zone in their destination but my life is always too full to do that. I just try to get 7 - 8 hours of sleep a couple of nights before the flight.

Assuming you did things right on the way over:
* got some sleep on the way over
* drank water (it is good to buy a bottle of water at the airport since you will probably not be served much to drink in coach)
* avoided alcohol (a universal suggestion in everything I have read)
* walked around and stretched every few hours on the flight over
I am going to suggest what you should do once you get to your destination. If you did not do the things I just listed, you are probably out of luck. Drink lots of coffee!

1) Stay awake until bedtime. That is not so hard if you change planes in Tokyo and arrive in Taipei at 9:00 PM but if you fly to London and arrive at 6:30 AM, this is a miserable experience. I had a pilot tell me that he goes straight to the hotel, sleeps 3 hours in a pitch black room then forces himself to get up and stay up until bedtime. I do not have that discipline, so I just stay up.

2) Break a sweat. Get on the treadmill in the gym or take a hard walk around the area. Exert yourself. You are not walking for pleasure. You have to get the blood pumping and really start sweating those accumulated toxins out of your system. Wear yourself out.

3) Eat something familiar for dinner. Maybe this is just me, but my body is all messed up after a 14 hour flight. Now is not the time to try a meal of sushi for the first time in my life. I need a hamburger and fries. If you are staying in an American brand name hotel, you are good. Room service will have a hamburger. If not, there is probably American fast food around the corner. Hunt it down and do not be adventurous this first night.

4) Go to bed a little bit early. If you normally go to bed at 11:00 PM, make it 10:00 this first night. Do NOT go to bed a 8:00 PM. You are going to wake up 2 - 20 times that first night anyway. Get your body adjusted to the new time zone. Going to bed too early is not going to help you.

Do those four things (especially the hard walk) and you will be as good as you can be the next morning. If you wake up at 5:30 AM and just can not go to sleep. Take another walk. Do not go out before people are on the street, however. It is risky to be out alone in a strange city.