How to Stay Healthy on Long Flights

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”
— Jim Rohn

Jet flights get us there fast and with a minimum of fuss (usually). But spending hours in a flying tube with hundreds of other people brings health challenges. Consider these guidelines I have collected for flying in the best of health.

Dress Appropriately –People no longer “dress up” for the elegant occasion of flying. We are now more likely to dress for the athletic challenge it can be. Dress for comfort in varied temperatures.  Layers of natural fibers breathe best. Consider whether you will want to kick off your shoes, and whether you want to bring slipper socks.


Once past TSA buy or refill your own bottle of water.

Once past TSA buy or refill your own bottle of water.

Stay Hydrated – At high altitude with every breath you exhale more water than you take in. Drink water (not coffee or tea) to maintain your optimum water level. International flights usually include wine with dinner. Enjoyable and indulgent as that feels, it is a step in the wrong direction. Alcohol actually removes water from your system. If you do partake, be sure to add even more water throughout the flight. Some contact lenses can dry out fast at high altitude humidity and this can lead to infections. Get medical advice about how best to prepare for long flights.

Use Your Air Vent Wisely – You are sitting in an enclosed space with people who are coughing or sniffing. Keep their germs away from your face by adjusting the air vent above you to blow down in front of your own face. This should help to deflect their sneezes away from you. (And of course you will be extra considerate of them by covering your own coughs and sneezes.) If you suffer from allergies, remember that the people sharing your airspace have probably not vacuumed off the cat or dog traces that cling to their clothing. Be prepared with your preferred medication.

Wash or sanitize your hands at every opportunity,

Wash or sanitize your hands at every opportunity,

Use Hand Sanitizer – Studies you would rather not read have been done about the most germ-ridden places on a plane. Be mindful of what your hands touch. If you are inclined or required to touch a railing or doorknob, most of the people on the plane probably will touch it also. Bring your own three ounce bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer and use it often, especially before you eat.

Move – Sitting still for too long can bring on another set of problems. To keep blood flowing well, take your time when you go to the restroom and stand in the aisle moving limbs appropriately if you can. Flight crews discourage passenger laps around the aisles of wide body planes, so do not try that. Most airline magazines include illustrations of exercises you can do in your seat to restore blood flow and stay healthy.

Sleep – If you fly when you usually would be in bed, try to sleep on the plane. The airline will try to “entertain” you with meals, movies, audio, clunky video games, and shopping. And they will wake you up when they are ready to serve the “we have arrived” breakfast. Because I usually fall for some of the attractions above, I speak from experience: the alternate entertainment is not better than sleep. Sleep if you can. Yes, it’s the “if you can” part that gets in the way. Here’s where the comfortable clothes pay off!

Boundaries divide. Travel unites.

7 August 2014

About Travel Unites

A travel agent since 1994, I want people to get together for greater understanding across boundaries.
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