Traveling can be so incredibly stressful; particularly during the holidays. The hustle and bustle of packing, tying up loose ends, making sure your home is in order, getting kids ready, and so much more can take a tremendous toll on your body. Air travel, in particular, can stress your body even more, with fluctuating air pressure, airborne germs, and super dry recycled air in the cabin, to name a few. What we consume leading up to our scheduled flights as well as the day of can make an enormous difference in how we feel after traveling. Having flown to various parts of the country and to Europe, I have had my share of flights to experiment various elements to how we feel when we fly.
I have felt so uncomfortable on flights that I knew it was time to figure out a formula that makes the whole process easier and less physically painful. And thus was born my 5 Travel tips to stay healthy when you travel. The biggest challenge is to not give in to something you think may make you feel better. On my travels to New Jersey from San Diego, I almost did that myself! Having been early in the morning, I spotted the bagel shop and got in line. But I stopped myself before ordering and realized a bagel and cream cheese would just set me up for a rough rest of my day. I purchased a large bottle of water and enjoyed the apple I packed with me instead.
Here are my 5 Tips to Stay Healthy and Feel Great while traveling by air!
- Hydrate! Make a point to prepare yourself at least 1-2 days ahead by drinking at LEAST 64 ounces each day. It is recommended to be drinking this much water every day, but if you’re not very good at getting that much in on a daily basis, make it a point to hydrate thoroughly with plain water before your trip. Airplanes pressurize the cabin with very dry air that gets recirculated for the duration of the flight. The lack of humidity will dry out your nasal passages and sinuses leading a WIDE open pathway for germs to hitch a ride with you. Hydrating thoroughly will help keep your bodily functions flowing as best they can despite the changed environment.
- Limit Carbs. Regardless if you choose whole grains or straight white bread versions, carbs will fill you up and make your body work hard to break down. Your body is going through enough. Give your organs nutrient packed foods that can be absorbed to give you the right kind of energy, like apples, peanut butter and salads. Pack a few easy to carry snacks you can enjoy every couple of hours so that you’re not dying of hunger, leaving the appropriate meal times of the day for larger choices you can purchase like green salads, fruit cups, or other light restaurant fare.
- Limit Sodium. Due to fluctuating altitudes and pressure, your body will automatically retain air, causing some light bloating. Consuming high sodium foods, such as fast food, potato chips, and most airline meals, will only make the bloating all that much worse. High volumes of salt cause your body to retain water and certain foods will puff you up like a balloon. When that happens, we feel not only uncomfortable but extra tired and lethargic as our body works hard to pump that air and excess water through. Keep snacks with sodium counts under 200mg. This also goes for any kind of sugary sodas. Do the best you can to not drink ANY soda on your travel day, between the high level of sugar and intense carbonation, not only are you adding to the bloat, but that sugar will make you crash (and I don’t mean the scary plane kind of crashing!!).
- Stay organized & plan ahead. There is nothing worse than being late for your flight and shaking your way through security because you’re afraid to miss your flight. I LOVE running, but I hate running through airports. Plan your trip ahead of time so that you arrive early, plan for any unusual delays on the way to the airport, and have an easy way to get through security and into your seat. Stress will make your travel comfort level decrease significantly. Its already all so stressful enough, so why make it even harder? Get organized, check in online 24 hours in advance, and get to the airport ready to cruise on through!
- Get plenty of rest before you fly. This one isn’t always easy to accomplish. Although I went to bed early the night before my trip, I didn’t end up sleeping as well as I hoped, so I felt tired and groggy this morning. Those of you on red eyes and traveling overseas on overnight trips also may find getting sleep challenging. But if you follow tip #4 and plan ahead, you can do the absolute best you can to get as much rest as possible before you leave. The more rested you feel, the easier it will be to follow steps 1-3, practically having the air travel not even phase you. While you certainly can try to sleep on the plane, the unusual position of sitting up, the potential unusual time of day, and the fact that you may not be a regular napper can throw your body’s biological clock completely off. You’ll wake up groggy and not quite with the energy you were hoping for before you dozed off.
Despite the fact that I did not have as wonderful a night’s sleep as I hoped, my travel day was rather enjoyable. I had 2 layovers, making my way up and down in the plane 3 times; nevertheless I feel just as energized as a regular day at work. My food and beverage choices helped me to stay on track not only will feeling well during travel but maintaining my healthy lifestyle. Next time you fly, give these tips a shot and see how you feel. You may never fly the same way ever again!
Bon voyage & a votre sante!!