While traveling is fun, flying on an airplane for long hours takes a major toll on the body. I used to have issues with constipation, bloating and fatigue for days after a long flight. After years of trial and error, I have discovered some excellent ways to stay healthy while traveling.
It might seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people in general walk around dehydrated. Take into account the low humidity of the cabin air while traveling, and you are on the fast track to dehydration. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated, so it’s best to keep on drinking water throughout your journey.
I never rely on the puny little cups the stewards hand out. Instead, I bring a water bottle on the plane, and ask the steward to fill it up. Many airlines have a filtered water tap by the kitchen and will even let you fill it up yourself – much easier than having to bug the stewards every hour for a new cup of water.
Another way to avoid becoming dehydrated is by taking it easy on the caffeine and alcohol. I know many airlines offer free coffee, tea, and booze, but just because it is free, doesn’t mean it is good for you!
2. Bring Your Own Food
This one is so crucial. Airline food is loaded with sodium as it is an easy and cheap way to add flavor to otherwise bland mass-produced food. The recommended intake of sodium for the average human is 1500mg per day, and I’d bet that most airline meals exceed this amount. Excess salt can make you swell and bloat.
Seeing as I prefer not to arrive at my destination looking and feeling like a Goodwill blimp, I always bring my own meals. This week I will be flying to France, and I have 19 hours of travel ahead of me, so I am packing my dinner and breakfast. For snacks, I always bring raw almonds and walnuts to munch on, or RX Bars, as they keep my blood sugar stable throughout the journey. And for my sweet tooth, a few squares of organic dark chocolate.
If packing your food is out of the question, I read that some airlines offer low- sodium meals as a special meal option: United, Delta, Lufthansa, Emirates, Thai, Japan, Alitalia, Turkish, Swiss, and Iberia all have histories of providing low-sodium meals, but be sure to check with the airline directly. And as always, try your best to find the healthiest options during layovers, as your body will be able to defend itself from the jetlag better with good fuel instead of junk food.
3. Avoid Germs
In addition to dehydration, low humidity also increases the risk of catching a cold. When the air is too dry, the mucous in your airway can’t do its job, and bacteria and viruses can enter easily.
To best protect myself I always bring my own blanket (I bring a light weight sarong) and pillow on the plane, as the ones the airlines use are not washed with every use (gross!). I also wipe down my tray with anti-bacterial wipes (who knows the last time it was wiped down?) because I’ve seen babies get their diapers changed on them many times.
One last thing I do to protect myself from getting sick is to bring a bottle of orange oil to breathe in occasionally during the flight, as it is anti-viral. Doterra also makes an antiviral, antibacterial, anti-infectious blend called OnGuard, which is a blend of clove, cinnamon, wild orange, rosemary and eucalyptus essential oils.
Stick to your sleep cycle and try to get some shuteye. I know sleeping on a plane is far from ideal, but I find that applying lavender oil to my temples and to a sleep mask always helps me sleep a little better, as the lavender is calming, and the sleep mask prevents my neighbors’ movie screen or book light from shining in my eyes. Another aid is to bring a bag of chamomile tea on the plane to drink before attempting to snooze.
Keeping circulation going on a flight is crucial, so when you are not sleeping try to get up at least every hour to stretch. This will get your blood circulating and prevent cramps and blood clots. I’m a fan of walking to the back bathroom with lots of space, and I feel no shame for doing a few toe touches or side stretches. Here is a list of good yoga stretches you can do in your seat.
As a final tip, if you tend to get constipated when flying I recommend taking magnesium citrate before you go to sleep. Without a proper movement your body will not be able to flush out all the toxins accumulated from your long flight, so it’s crucial. I always bring my Magnesium Citrate with me while traveling and it has been a life saver.
What are your favorite ways to keep healthy during travel? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below!
Health Coach Jenna