6 ways to stay healthy and comfortable on your next fli
6 ways to stay healthy, relaxed, and comfortable on your next flight
It might be the safest way to travel, and it's certainly the fastest, but flying isn't exactly a treat for the body or the mind. Having to endure limited legroom and coughing co-travelers while hurtling across time zones in a sealed vessel can be immensely tiring and stressful.
If the thought of flying has got you feeling down, don't fret. While you might not be able to do much about on-flight pet peeves, you can still minimize the toll that air travel takes on your physical and mental well-being. Whether you're jetting off on holiday or taking a mandatory business trip, be sure to try these helpful flight tips next time you take to the skies.
(1) Boost your immune system before you fly
Between reduced oxygen levels, semi-stale cabin air, and exposure to a host of new and interesting pathogens, the odds of picking up an unwanted flight memento are pretty good. To avoid getting off your flight with more than you bargained for, take some time to bolster your immune system before you even start packing.
Eat mindfully, and be sure to consume a variety of fruits and vegetables to get a healthy dose of immune-boosting vitamins and minerals. Just can't stomach those leafy greens? Try eating what you can, and fill in the gaps with a good multivitamin.
Drink plenty of water. Dehydration wreaks havoc on your entire system with side effects that can range from headache and fatigue to slower circulation and compromised immunity.
Forgo the farewell party and rest up. Insufficient sleep lowers immune function, and it's wise to aim for seven to eight hours of shut-eye before take-off.
For extra immune protection, consider adding a probiotic to your diet. Good gut health has been shown to support healthy immune function.
(2) Keep your space clean
With countless passengers boarding flights throughout the day and hasty crew cleanups in between, you're bound to come in contact with at least a few lingering nasties on frequently touched surfaces. While most of them probably won't do any harm if your immune system is firing on all cylinders, it's nevertheless a good idea to keep your immediate surroundings clean.
Try to catch the first flight of the day. Following a night at the airport, armrests, tray tables, and entertainment screens are more likely to have been wiped down. Seat back pockets will be empty, and toilets will have enjoyed a good scrub.
If an early flight isn't an option, keep a bottle of hand sanitizer (make sure it's no more than 3.4 ounces, though, or it might not be allowed on board) and antibacterial wipes in your purse or carry-on luggage. Wipe down your space before you get comfortable, paying special attention to frequently touched areas like armrests. Don't forget your tray table, either -- many harried parents use these for quick diaper changes, and they could be teeming with all manner of bacteria.
(3) Bring your own creature comforts
To further minimize your exposure to illness-inducing germs and bacteria, consider bringing your own travel essentials. Blankets and pillows will most likely already have been used by earlier passengers, and the cleanliness of these items are suspicious, at best.
Ditch the dingy airline blanket and bring a jacket or a small throw to keep you warm in case of a temperature drop.
Take a pass on the airline pillow, too; they seldom offer much neck support and, unfortunately, nap time drool is a very real issue for many. Rather, pack a compact and supportive travel pillow of your own.
As far as entertainment goes, it's worth bringing your own noise cancelling headphones. Aside from boosting the sound quality of your in-flight entertainment, they'll also help drown out the sound of snoring seatmates, engine noise, and crying babies. However, you might want to leave your best set at home, lest they get lost in the shuffle.
(4) Stay hydrated
You've heard it before, and we'll say it again: hydration is essential to your health -- and staying hydrated while flying is especially important.
As aircraft altitude climbs, humidity plummets. In fact, average in-flight humidity ranges between 10% and 20%. This translates to aircraft cabins that are more arid than the Sahara desert (which clocks in at around 25% humidity, in case you're wondering). Stack these numbers against typical home humidity levels of between 30% and 60%, and it's easy to see why so many fliers struggle with dry sinuses, grainy eyes, and tight, parched skin.
Steadily sipping on water in the hours and minutes leading up to your flight rather than chugging it down all at once will give your body more opportunity to actually absorb it.
As for drinking water on the plane, it's probably best to bring your own; aircraft water tanks have earned a bad reputation for harboring undesirable bacteria. Although airport security doesn't allow liquids past the checkpoint, you can bring an empty water bottle and fill it at a fountain once you're through.
Don't forget to give your skin a little love, too. For longer flights, take care of your skin by slathering on a quality face cream before and during your trip.
(5) Get your blood pumping
Sitting for hours at a time on a long-haul flight is more than just a pain in the backside -- it can have serious consequences for your circulatory health. The longer you sit, the greater the chances that blood pooled in the legs will begin to coagulate. If you'll be flying for more than four hours at a stretch, you can decrease your risk of developing blood clots, commonly known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), by trying some of the tips below.
Get active. Walking up and down the aisle at least once every hour can help improve circulation. If you're feeling frisky, once every 30 minutes is even better.
If you're boxed in by sleeping seatmates, try doing seated exercises. Contract your calf muscles by lifting your heels while the balls of your feet remain on the floor. Hold for a few seconds before lowering your heels and lifting your toes.
Wear loose-fitting clothing that won't restrict blood flow. You'll feel more comfortable, and your veins will thank you for it.
Wear graduated compression stockings to assist blood flow.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol, or at least try not to overdo it. As much as you might crave a quick pick-me-up or a bit of liquid courage, these drinks exacerbate dehydration and can make circulation even more sluggish.
(6) Catch some Zzz's
Long flights can be exhausting, so try to get some shuteye along the way. Arriving at your destination feeling groggy and bleary-eyed is a less-than-perfect start to any trip. Sleeping on a plane can be a challenge, but it's not impossible.
Find a travel pillow that works for you before you fly. Some people require firm support while others prefer the versatility of an adjustable travel pillow. Whatever the case, test driving your travel pillow beforehand can save you from neck pain later.
Listen to soothing music to help you unwind and filter out any jarring noises that might disturb you.
Dab some lavender essential oil on your pillow. Even if you don't fall asleep, the soothing fragrance should help you relax.
Wear an eye mask to block out light. In compliance with Murphy's law, cabin lights will inevitably be turned on just as you finally manage to doze off. Longing for a touch of luxury amidst all the stresses of travelling? Try an aromatherapy-enhanced eye mask for a complete R&R solution. After all, every brave flier deserves a bit of first class treatment!
Erica van Blommestein is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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