Long-haul flights can suck up all your energy, and it’s hard not to feel exhausted and also a bit unwell when you land. This is especially the case if your route isn’t direct and your trip itinerary involves one or more layovers, which can be tiring even if you know how to plan your layover the smart way.
Fortunately, I’ve got a few tips to help you stay healthy while you fly. Here is my checklist to help you prepare and survive a long haul flight.
How to stay hydrated on long haul flights
Flying at high altitudes implies breathing pressured air in the cabin for long hours that inevitably changes the blood oxygen levels and can lead to fatigue, headaches and dizziness. Sitting on a plane is not like sitting on a sofa in your home, that’s why the first rule and best practice to follow on a long flight is skipping the free in-flight alcoholic drinks!
To maintain a good level of hydration during the flight, you can do all of the following:
Drink fresh, natural water
I know plain water is dull and at times challenging to drink, a good option is herbal teas, or a thoughtful integration with minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium. These are essential micro-nutrients when we fly that keep our body alkaline. You can purchase long-haul flight supplements that contain necessary nutrients at the airport or bring your package from home. Alternatively, 1-2 electrolyte drinks would do.
Give your skin a drink
Use face moisturiser, hand cream and lip balm several times to prevent your skin drying out. But also don’t forget to take good care of your mouth and nose to avoid oral bacterial infections. A lot of people get colds, flu and bugs from flying, so it is vital to keep your immune system healthy.
Keep good mouth hygiene
By brushing your teeth a few times during your flight. We all hate that furry teeth feeling, so it’s wise to clean your teeth a few times during the big trip. The Philips electric toothbrushes will come in handy on really long flights. Even chewing sugarless gum or sucking on xylitol mints will help keep your mouth fresh and bacteria-free. More info here.
Hydrate your nose with a nasal spray
Get an excellent nasal spray at the airport. Saline or sea-water nasal sprays are the best for flying because they clean out your nose from dust, dirt and bacteria too.
Don’t forget eye-drops when you fly
There is nothing worse than having dry and red eyes when you sit on the plane for long hours. Good eye-drops are one of the first things I pack into my cabin bag. At the airport, you can get all kind of eye-drops in a small bottle or individually wrapped.
What food to eat on a plane
There are many theories about what you should eat on a long flight and which foods you should avoid. In my many years of travelling, I have tried absolutely everything. Food on planes is notoriously not the healthiest so eating no food at all would probably be the best thing to do to adjust to time zone crossing. However, it is also quite a difficult thing to do for many.
Nonetheless, there are many ways to prepare for time zone transitions, when it comes to food, here are my best tips:
Take light meals on the plane and for the day before the long flight
The day before flying and on the aircraft only eat light food. When I fly, I stick to fruit and veggie platters, but when I get hungry, I recommend eating healthy smart bars that keep you full and light.
Avoid meat and fish
If you can avoid animal proteins, dairy products, that’s the best. They only give that extra workload to your stomach and your body which is adjusting to time zone transition.
Pack your food
The quality of food on planes are notoriously not good, so the best thing to do is to pack your essential foods with you. Light snacks, fruit bars, teas, etc.
The importance of sleep on a long haul flight
Sleeping on the plane is essential because it helps you naturally combat jet lag. The longer you manage to sleep in the cabin the shorter you will suffer jet lag. Even 1 or 2 hours’ sleep will naturally help your internal body clock adjust to the new time zone. A long-haul flight means crossing several time zones and the more time zones, the longer it takes to recover from jet lag. Moreover, you may have heard of this saying “East is a beast, West is best” this is true when you fly east it takes much longer to recover as when you travel west.
My best tips on improving sleep comfort on the plane that will stop you from feeling jet-lagged within a few days:
Bring a travel pillow
It can help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer. Good flight pillows are usually bulky and expensive, and because I love minimalist packing, I don’t take one. However, the benefits outweigh the downsides, and it is worth purchasing one. At airport shops, there is a vast choice for all budgets.
Pack a sleep mask
It can be a lifesaver when you’re flying long-haul, mainly if it isn’t through the night. On short-haul flights, it can be great for having a quick nap, too. I have tried many, and Tempur is my favourite travel sleep mask.
Stretch your legs and move around in the cabin
Sitting in a narrow space for a few hours can increase the risk of developing blood clots in your legs. Because of the lower blood oxygen level in-flight, blood cannot circulate properly, cause dizziness and lead to DVT (deep vein thrombosis). So circling your wrists and ankles to boost the blood flow, pulling your right knee up towards your chest and switch legs, as well as moving your shoulders up and down to release tension in your neck are excellent and simple airplane exercise to do on long flights.
Wear the right plane outfit
Loose clothes and pulling on some flight socks will not only help enhance your comfort and prevent ankle swelling but also will make you feel warm and comfy when falling asleep. On this post will help you choose what to wear for your long-haul flight.
The above tips are great to help you prepare your body for a long flight. The days that follow the trip make sure to continue with good self-care. Give your immune system a boost by walking in parks, exposing yourself to daylight, filling your lungs with fresh air, and most importantly eating freshly cooked food with plenty of vitamins and essential nutrients.
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