7 Tips to Stay Healthy on Flights
There's nothing worse than feeling healthy going into a trip, then arriving at your destination feeling like you got sick on the plane. Not only is that a good way to ruin a vacation or travel trip, but in some cases on work travel, you can’t afford to be sidelined at all. Whether it's too cold, too hot, or you're eating crummy airplane food, stiff from sitting for hours, nothing about flights do you any favors when it comes to staying healthy, honestly.
I always try to maximize the time I have in a city, so I usually take red-eyes or an early flight as possible. Because of this, I have become really meticulous at taking care of myself on the flight so I can arrive feeling ready to hit the ground running and not waste any time. Having traveled quite a bit now for work and personal trips, I have my routine and essentials down pat. I know exactly what to pack in order to keep me comfortable and healthy throughout the flight!
I've already covered my tips for stress-free healthy eating while traveling, but now here are my 7 tips to stay healthy while actually on the way:
1. Hydration station
This tip is important all the time for optimal health, but staying hydrated is particularly important on while flying. I know, I know, no one wants to be that person getting up to pee 500 times (this is why I always opt for an aisle seat), but your health is more important than a little awkwardness.
The air in a plane is really dry, so it already is hard for your body to stay properly hydrated-- this is why I usually advise against drinking alcohol or caffeine on flights, as those can be dehydrating. If you do choose to have either of those, make sure you’re increasing your water intake. Lastly, your immune system needs water to be able to be at its strongest, and fight off all those germs from sitting on a plane breathing in the same air as 100 other people.
I like to take my reuseable water bottle (I use this one) with me to fill up after I get through security— most major domestic airports have filtered water filling stations now, so it’s super easy and I get to stay eco-friendly throughout my trip.
2. Bring snacks or make a game plan.
For a lot of people, eating on flights is weirdly fun / comforting. But also for most people, they end up feeling really indigested, gassy, bloated, and like they’re a salt balloon by the time they touch down on the ground. The combination of being super sedentary on a flight and the altitude is really not your stomach’s best friend. This is why I personally have taken to fasting on my flights if they’re shorter domestic lengths, and definitely on red-eyes. There has been a massive difference in how I feel when I land now, and the pangs of FOMO while everyone is snackin' around me are so worth how great I feel when I deboard.
If fasting is not your cup of tea, or you know those Biscoff cookies are too tempting, I highly recommend bringing healthy snacks to tide you over. Relying on airport or plane food is like rolling the dice. Especially if you have dietary restrictions like I do, you really should bring lots of snacks. Personally, I like bringing protein bars, fruit in my stasher bags, and maybe a small prepared meal I can eat cold if it’s going to be a long/international flight. A little preparedness helps save a lot of discomfort later!
3. Sanitize + Immunize
Okay, so I'm a little germophobic. But realistically thinking about how the plane most definitely does NOT get thoroughly cleaned after each trip, gives me the heebie jeebies. I carry alcohol-based sanitizer (anti-bac is now an FDA no-no!) that has no chemicals and only contains plant-based ingredients. I give the headrest and metal armrests a quick spritz and wipe down before getting settled. I also use it to clean my hands after using the lavatory, because I'd rather touch as little as possible in those airplane bathrooms and you always hear people coughing around you. Better err on the side of caution here!
I also always carry zinc elderberry drops on me to help boost my immunity, and I love these little packets of manuka honey to do the same— I ask the flight attendant for a cup of hot water, and I mix this and a lemon wedge in there.
4. Remove Your Makeup + Moisturize
Do your skin a favor and either don't wear makeup to the airport or wipe it off with some cleansing cloths (these are clean + compostable too) + moisturize when you get on the plane. The air is super dry, and your pores tend to try to compensate by amping up the oil production/sebum and hellooooo breakouts and angry skin. Not to mention your face will probably feel icky after a longer flight with a full face of makeup on. I always pack some cleansing cloths in my bag just incase, and if you’re extra like guac, feel free to throw some eye gels (I love these ones) or even a hydrating sheet mask (my fave here).
Speaking of skin, don't forget to moisturize your hands too! My hands are always so dry, especially with the colder seasons now, so I carry around a little carry-on friendly hand lotion (my fave and neutral smelling one here). Keep that skin healthy and hydrated, it's the largest organ in your body!
5. Bring Layers
This one is simple— temperature vary wildly on a plane, and I personally hate those blankets (they definitely don't wash those after every use and they’re super static-y) they give you. Make sure to bring a warm sweatshirt and some socks, to keep your body temperature stable. Worst case, you don't use them and you have a makeshift pillow to roll up and use.
6. Get Up and Stretch
If I'm on a flight for anywhere past 1.5 hours, I have to get up to walk around a little and stretch. Honestly, I don't care if I look like a weirdo, stretching my hips, back, and arms. At a high altitude with a pressure-controlled cabin, it's really helpful to keep your blood moving and get that circulation going. Not to be a negative Nancy, but blood clots do happen and this is one way of preventing them (I also usually take compression socks with me for long flights).
Afraid to bother your neighbors to keep getting up? Save yourself the back-and-forth by tacking on a few stretches after going to the restroom. Also, as long as you are courteous about it, there is nothing wrong with taking care of your needs!
7. Unplug, for REAL
Probably the one on this list that is least often mentioned or done, but also one of the best things you can do for yourself. You already (likely) don't have internet access, so use this opportune time to disconnect and unplug for a few hours. Remember how we talked about how important it is to manage stress and to sneak in every opportunity you can to kick that parasympathetic nervous system into gear?
Seriously though. Use this chance to meditate, read a real book, listen to music (okay that's technically electronic, but doesn't involve much interaction), journal, or rest those eyes away from that blue light and nap.