Margaret Zhang’s Tips For Beating Jet Lag

Margaret Zhang spends a lot of time in the air. When your styling, photography and digital consulting skills are requested by some of the most sought-after brands, couture houses and clients from Paris to NYC to Bangkok, you’re constantly flying around the globe. And it’d be rude not to.

At Zhang’s recent Vivid Ideas Game Changer’s talk at Sydney Town Hall, she mentioned she’d turned 23 during a flight to Australia from the USA, was in Sydney for a night, and would be flying long-haul the following day – “But I’m not jet lagged!” she said proudly.


As her career skyrockets, so does her air time, with this type of frequent flying the norm. Zhang has learned a thing or two and is well versed in staying as healthy and jet lag-free as possible. Naturally, the audience wanted to know how she doesn’t let that amount of long-haul flying turn her into a wreck.

Here are the four essential tips she shared for not letting ‘lag get the better of you.

#1 “Stay hydrated”

Hydration is number one for a reason: dehydration intensifies jet lag. It’s the reason you’ll feel exhausted, sore, have dry or puffy eyes, look wrinklier-than-normal (from a grape to a raisin, they say) and probably have a headache. Kara from The Flight Attendant Life says, travellers experience physiological changes related to an increase in altitude. Cabins have low moisture levels, in fact “Aircraft cabin humidity levels are unnaturally low – from 5-10% – creating an environment with less humidity than the Sahara Desert!”

Drink an extra glass of water than usual per hour on your flight, and if you’re keen for an alcoholic beverage, know that your body needs to use its water reserves to process that alcohol – so you’ll need extra water again to make up for it.

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You can also look after your skin by cleansing all dirt, make up and pollution off at the start of the flight, and layering on some nourishing moisturiser or a moisturising mask to seep in over time and provide a barrier to the dry environment.

#2 “Say ‘no’ to sodium-packed plane food”

It’s not breaking news that plane food isn’t fresh or restaurant-quality (business class and beyond aside). Meals and snacks are usually laden with sodium and sugar, and there are a couple of reasons for this; sugar and salt preserve foods, so they last longer, and according to the BBC, the air-pressure changes with the cabin mean “Taste buds and sense of smell are the first things to go at 30,000 feet.” So they up the ante in order for us to perceive the food as (somewhat) tasty.

But sodium adds to your dehydration and prevents your chances of getting some sleep, which we know is not-so-great for curbing the effects of jet lag.

#3 “Bring your own snacks”

Bringing your own snacks onto a plane means you know what you’re putting in your body, and you’re able to bring on fresh and healthy options that airlines usually can’t due to shelf-life issues.

Good plane snacks include mixed, raw nuts; dried fruit; protein balls or bars; a home-cooked veggie stir fry; apples, bananas or mandarins; hard-boiled eggs; avocado and bread; and of course, a big bottle of water.

#4 “Order the vegetarian meal”

If BYO-healthy plane snacks is as far as you go and there’s no way you’d consider making your main meals, Zhang says to pre-order the vegetarian option which is always “way better.”

Sonia is the editor of The Cusp. You can find her on Instagram @sonnietothetee

Header image: supplied