Tripologist: How do flight crews beat jet lag?

Flight crews suffer jet lag just like everyone else, but there are ways to lessen its effects.
Flight crews suffer jet lag just like everyone else, but there are ways to lessen its effects. Photo: Getty Images

Everyone asks ...

How do flight crews beat jet lag?

I put this question to a pilot once and he said: "We don't. We suffer, same as you do."

If you cross more than four time zones you can expect to feel some effects of jet lag, but if you're smart, you can lessen its effects and duration. Some say adapt to the time difference by eating and sleeping according to the time at your destination as soon as you board your aircraft. Really?

East meets West ... Mickey and Minnie Mouse in kimonos, with Pluto, at Tokyo Disneyland.
East meets West ... Mickey and Minnie Mouse in kimonos, with Pluto, at Tokyo Disneyland. Photo: AFP

If I get on a London-bound plane at 10am in Sydney, it's midnight according to Big Ben but no way am I going to fall asleep. Much more reasonable is to try to adapt as soon as you reach your target.

Take a walk in the sunshine to help reset your body clock and resist the urge to tumble into bed for an afternoon nap, which will probably turn into a three-hour snorathon. Make it a vigorous walk, too — lack of exercise on your flight is one of the reasons many travellers are wide awake and exhausted at 3 o'clock the morning after they arrive. Dehydration is another contributing factor.

Drink plenty of water during your flight and if you go cold turkey when the drinks trolley tinkles past, your body will say "hallelujah".

Sleeping pills can help re-establish your circadian rhythm and some swear by melatonin, but seek professional medical advice. A morning dose of Berocca can help flush the fuzz from your brain, and that's a tip straight from the pilot's seat.

Planning is vital for a fun family tour of Japan

We are travelling to Japan in September as a family with two girls, aged 7 and 10. We have 10 nights and are flying in and out of Tokyo. Any suggestions? What other cities are worth visiting? We would prefer to travel by train.
- J. Raftesath, Roseville.

With children, Tokyo Disneyland (tokyodisneyresort.co.jp) might be unavoidable, and at least a full day is required to take in even a small part of what this huge and entertaining fun-park has to offer.

An absolute must-see is the city of Kyoto, a trip that can easily fill up to three days. En route, consider stopping at Hakone, the gateway to Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, which has a number of tour options with Mount Fuji as a backdrop.

Nara is another rich cultural feast. It is Japan's first permanent regional capital and has several World Heritage sites within a spacious park.

The Japanese favourites of raw fish and tofu may not be to your children's liking. If you're not sure, you can opt to dine in Western-style hotels, where tourists can dip into Japanese food without committing to a full cultural immersion.

While these hotels provide food and accommodation within the comfort zones of some travellers, they can be more expensive and less culturally satisfying than staying in a ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn).

Train is definitely the way to go in Japan. Consider getting a Rail Pass (japanrailpass.net), which was created especially for overseas visitors and is valid on most forms of public transport across the country.

 

Avoid the terrible tummy bug

Together with my husband I am cruising the Mediterranean. We are concerned about falling ill to the "cruise tummy bug". Can you suggest precautions and any medication we might take with us?
- S. Vecchio, Glenwood.

The norovirus is a common and highly contagious virus that causes gastroenteritis. Since it thrives in confined spaces with high human populations, it's been appearing in some cruise vessels lately.

In this situation, the virus is often spread through physical contact with people already affected - even something as simple as passing a salt shaker around a table.

The most important precaution is to keep your hands scrupulously clean. Wash them often with soap and water and always carry hand gel around with you.

If you do fall victim, see the ship's doctor and drink plenty of water, since dehydration is a side effect. There is no cure or vaccine.

Symptoms will typically last one to two days but victims may be contagious for as long as two weeks.

Trains terrific for Sicilian sightseeing bonanza

My husband and I will be travelling to Sicily following a tour of Italy. We have booked four nights each in Palermo and Catania — can you advise us on things to do? We don't particularly want to hire a car and hope we can get around on buses or trains.
- E. Gear, Terrey Hills.

From Catania, make a day trip south to visit the city of Syracuse, a pocket-sized, historic and immensely likeable city that you can easily explore in a couple of hours.

On the same day continue south to Noto, a small treasure crammed with baroque palaces and churches in honey-coloured stone, and don't miss Caffe Sicilia in the Corso, which dispenses pastries from heaven.

Plan another day north to take in gorgeous Taormina and if you're feeling adventurous, you might take the hike up Mount Etna, although it's quite tough.

Palermo has a couple of fascinating markets, La Vucciria and Ballaro, several astonishing churches such as the Oratorio di San Lorenzo and the Chiesa di Santa Cita, a wonderful art gallery and archaeological museum, and, also found in the vicinity, the stupendous 12th-century Norman Cathedral of Monreale.

Trains will suit your needs perfectly.

Drawn to super Nova

My husband and I are travelling to the east coast of Canada in May. We have about 12 days and are not sure whether to drive or take a train. Our itinerary is very flexible so any advice would be greatly appreciated on must-see places and accommodation. What do you know about Le Train du Massif de Charlevoix?
- C. Bramley, Croydon Park.

The Charlevoix train (lemassif.com) runs between Quebec City and La Malbaie, following the northern bank of the St Lawrence River.

It's short and sweet, with a few variations. It's a relaxing way to take in some beautiful countryside and many rate this as a highlight of their visit to Quebec. Plan two to three days in Quebec City. It's an absolute delight and a great place to sample French-Canadian gastronomy against atmospheric backdrops.

Hiring a car magnifies your touring options many times over in eastern Canada.

The big attraction here is Nova Scotia, which feels like a slice of Scotland hived off and heaved across an ocean. The island is home to the Cabot Trail, one of Canada's most scenic drives, a 300-kilometre loop around Cape Breton Island.

You can find plenty more information to help plan your journey on Frommer's Canada websites (frommers.com). Also see our review of the Charlevoix train.

 

If you have travel questions, we'd love to hear from you. Include the name of your suburb or town and send it to tripologist101@gmail.com. Personal correspondence cannot be entered into. Only questions appearing in print will be answered. One published letter each week will win a Lonely Planet guidebook.

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