This Emirates Exec Has Been to 80 Countries — Here Are His Tips to Beat Jet Lag and Pack Like a Pro

Emirate's divisional vice president for the United States and Canada, Essa Sulaiman Ahmad, shares his top travel tipswith Travel + Leisure.

<p>Getty Images </p>

Getty Images

Essa Sulaiman Ahmad knows a thing or two about jet lag. That’s because, as the divisional vice president for the United States and Canada for Emirates, he travels quite a bit — as in every two weeks.

And because of all that travel, Ahmad, who is based in New York, has a few tricks up his sleeve, which he shared with Travel + Leisure.

“Sometimes I travel more than the cabin crew,” he told T+L. “I always say jet lag is part of who I am, it's my identity.”

<p>Courtesy of Emirates</p>

Courtesy of Emirates

How to beat jet lag without breaking a sweat

Ahmad’s No. 1 tip is to start preparing for a trip two or three days before, allowing your body to adjust to the time zone of your intended destination. That means changing everything from sleeping habits to when you eat.

“The tricks that I kept on using and the trick that kind of works, especially with someone who doesn't travel as often, would be… two, three days before [a trip] try to work on the clock hours of the country or the city or the place that you're going to go and visit,” he said. “There is no secret way of getting it done, but… it actually helps.”

Being proactive on the plane itself also helps, and that means staying hydrated.

“I am not the person that would drink water usually. I get my water intake from the coffees that I drink,” Ahmad laughed. “So when it comes to traveling, I make sure on the flight I… keep on hydrating and drinking water.”

On long haul flights, like between New York and Dubai, Ahmad said he tries not to sleep immediately. That can’t be an easy feat with the comfy seats on Emirates from its swanky first class suites to business class, the newly-launched premium economy seats, and even some of the most luxurious economy seats in the industry. But by sticking to that schedule, Ahmad said he arrives at his destination ready to hit the ground running.

“I wait for a couple of hours and then I'll make sure that I have at least five or six hours that I can sleep and then wake up refreshed,” he said. “And then I complete the whole day and I sleep back in the evening. I try my level best [not to take] power naps, no nothing in between.”

Never forget anything with this packing hack

Beyond jet lag, Ahmad tries to make packing easier by keeping different bags for different types of trips: one for super short getaways, another for slightly longer ones, and a third for long trips. And he keeps different necessities, like toiletry bags, in each so he never forgets anything.

“I have three sets of chargers, three sets of toiletries, three sets of everything,” he said. “That is the only thing that actually helps.”

Dreamy destinations

As a seasoned traveler, Ahmad has been to about 80 countries. And while Dubai will always hold a special place in his heart as his home, a beach vacation is what he thinks of when he wants to relax.

“I’m more of a beach person when it comes to holidays alone, I still prefer to take it easy,” he said. “For example, [go to the] Maldives if you want it to be very cozy, [the] Seychelles and Mauritius, you can go there with a bigger group.”

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