The secret to coping with jet lag – the unavoidable downside of International jewelry business travel

How to beat Jet Lag when traveling Internationally for business

Jet lag as defined by Miriam Webster: “a condition that is characterized by various psychological and physiological effects (such as fatigue and iterability) occurs following a long flight through several times zones, and probably results from disruption of circadian rhythms in the human body”.

Jet lag can be rough if not managed properly when traveling for work. I have been in this predicament many times during my travels visiting various jewelry factories abroad.

When faced with that upside-down feeling that jet lag will give you upon arrival to Asia from the US it is certainly a mental and physical challenge. In the jewelry industry, International travel has evolved from a fun team building experience to a must do chore. It is critical to get in front of your suppliers and break bread or in the case of Chinese business culture, drink tea! Nothing solidifies trust and affirms partnership like visiting your vendors manufacturing facility to see things form their perspective, get your hands dirty and solve the problems that might take weeks to uncover remotely. But it can be an awfully expensive, stressful, and time-consuming endeavor.

Having said that there is still an initial investment of 18-24 hours of travel to arrive to your destination and then the onslaught of the gravitational pull of jet lag. My strategy which I believe has worked for many years is to depart on the latest flight possible from the United States locked and loaded with a full charge on the laptop and plenty of  jewelry industry related reading materials for the journey. Prior to my trip I usually plan out to the minute and confirm all my initial vendor meetings and jewelry factory visits so that my supplier community is on the ready and then proceed from my morning arrival in Hong Kong directly to my first meeting. 

Most arrival days will consist of two or three meetings and a dinner just to break the seal with the vendor. By doing this I get a jump on my sourcing and product development agenda as well as force myself to be accountable to the individuals I have booked time with.  Usually there is a window in the early evening where my jet lag kicks in, and it is touch and go for a little while but if I persevere and push through and make it through the evening.

A natural byproduct of jet lag is early rising which is best dealt with a combination of things. Firstly, early morning project review and development instructions prior to upcoming meetings gives the vendor partners a clear picture of what I will be expecting in terms of design and development requirements or discussion points regarding purchasing negotiations. Secondly is some much needed me time. A little exercise in the form of the hotel gym pool for a few laps or a brisk walk in a nearby square to get the blood pumping. Thirdly is of course a solid balanced breakfast inclusive of fruits grain and proteins. The hotels usually have the familiar continental breakfast menu.  Many times, I will invite a local supplier to breakfast with me which gives us time to catch up in a relaxed environment. Breakfast is important because there are many days during my trip when there just is not time in the itinerary for a traditional sit-down Chinese lunch and then next meal is not seen until dinner time. 

Inevitably after repeating this process on or about day three the crash occurs, and I will sleep until nine or ten in the morning, usually occurring on a Sunday. This breakthrough makes for smooth sailing the rest of the time during my product development trip. Finally, my circadian rhythm has acclimated to the local time zone. Unfortunately, this means the worst is to come upon arrival home. But that is another story for another time.


Published by Andrew Derrig

Senior Product Development Executive and Jewelry industry professional. 25+ Years’ experience in the jewelry industry. Creative problem solver with the ability to drive revenue growth, break down barriers to success, resolve conflict and improve morale. Highly skilled in Brand management, Product design, Product development, Research & Development Sourcing, Licensing. Specialties: Mass merchandising for the jewelry industry. Extensive experience in alternative metals and bridal including research & development.

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