I travel a lot, and flying is the most boring part of it. It is probably also the unhealthiest way to travel. It’s not just the jet lag. It is also very easy to catch colds and other bugs in the dry cabin air. Sitting for hours in a small space makes the muscles stiff and airplane seats seem to have been designed to promote poor posture. Airplane food is not always planned with passenger health in mind. I try to take trains and buses when I can, but I write about travel and sometimes I have to fly. So how to minimize the health hazards from air travel?
3 Health Tips for Flying
1. Drink lots of water before, during and after a flight. Cabin air is dry. Drink juices, water and other non-alcoholic, non-carbonated soft drinks throughout the flight to avoid dehydration and headaches.
2. There are lots of theories about what to eat during a flight. Some people swear by avoiding carbohydrates; some advise to eat light in general. The thing is, I’m always hungry when I travel. Being vegetarian, I order the vegetarian meal, and it is sometimes surprisingly good and sometimes not that good. So I bring snacks. Healthy snacks might include fruit, dry fruit, nuts and seeds, or nut and seed bars, homemade muffins etc…and if you’re flying with the whole family, the kids might like these snacks too, especially on long-haul flights. Airport food is sometimes pretty unhealthy too, depending on the airport, so if I have a long wait at the airport I bring my own food.
3. Sitting in crammed conditions for hours makes you stiff and is bad for the blood circulation and the lymphatic system. My legs usually swell up during flights. So I try to stretch a bit regularly: rotate the ankles and wiggle the feet to get the circulation going, roll the shoulders, stretch the arms, stretch more when you walk to the toilet.
Natural Remedies for Staying Healthy When Flying
Many natural remedies are helpful for staying healthy on flights:
- Rescue Remedy: for fear of flying and to calm travel nerves (suitable for kids, too: try the rescue remedy candy).
- Tea tree or Eucalyptus oil: sniff from the bottle to keep viruses away – Vicks inhaler sticks work very well too and keep the nasal passages clear.
- Vitamin C: for boosting immunity.
- Ginger capsules or ginger sweets: for travel sickness.
- Lozenges (zinc, honey, echinacea or other natural lozenges) for the sore throat that often follows when you have spent hours in the dry cabin air.
- A homemade hand sanitizer with essential oils to use at airports and during the flight.
- If you’re flying to a tropical country, coconut water is excellent for hydrating after a long flight. Kids usually love coconut water, too.
If you have trouble sleeping because of jet lag, a bath with lavender essential oil always works for me.