Plane travel comes with plenty of discomforts, from cramped seat space to hot (or freezing cold) cabin temperatures to chatty neighbors (and their crying babies). But the worst of what we’re exposed to in the air can’t be seen, heard or felt – at least not until after we’ve reached our destination and the sneezing, sore throat and coughing kicks in. Airplanes are full of germs that can cause sickness. To avoid having to hunker down in a hotel room rather than hitting the beach during your vacation, follow these prep steps for a healthier ride in the sky.
Before your trip
While it’s always a good idea to eat well, stay hydrated, exercise regularly and get enough sleep, it’s especially important to take care of yourself before a vacation. Ramp up your immune system by adding a vitamin C supplement to your regimen a few weeks before you hit the road.
24 hours ‘til takeoff
Drink up! Hydrating well the day before your trip will help keep your cells in good shape and may help prevent nausea and headaches in flight.
If you’re a smoker, refrain from smoking for at least 24 hours before your flight leaves. Smoking causes pressure to build up in your lungs, where it will remain when you’re in the air. This causes lower oxygen levels in your blood and can result in headaches.
The day of travel
Be sure to eat a nutritious, warm meal before your flight to prevent hunger. If the flight is long, consider fasting during the journey, drinking only water and tea until you arrive.
It’s a good idea to pack an empty water bottle with a teaspoon of chia seeds in your carry-on bag. Once you get through security, fill the bottle with purified water. Drinking chia water will nourish your body with essential fatty acids, protein, antioxidants and fiber while also helping to fill you up and keep you satisfied.
Spirulina powder is another good take-along. Spirulina is a great source of protein and provides other potentially beneficial plant compounds. Just add a half teaspoon to a bottle of water, shake and sip throughout your flight.
While cleaning crews may have picked up trash and crumbs, there’s no guarantee your seating area will be cleared of germs. Bring along some sanitizing wipes, and wipe down your tray table, arms rests and any other surface you think you’ll come in contact with during the flight.
For extra protection, use hand sanitizing wipes even after washing up in the restroom and after handling items like magazines or menus that others have touched.
In the air
Again, if possible, avoid eating while flying—especially food that’s provided on the plane. Not only do you not know where the meals and snacks come from, but their handling is just another way for germs to spread. Eating on planes also increases gas pressure in your gut, leading to digestive discomfort. Same goes for drinking alcoholic beverages, sodas or other carbonated drinks.
Stick with water to stay hydrated, and be sure to keep drinking throughout the flight (you’ll be glad to get up and use the restroom, giving you the chance to stretch your arms and legs to promote circulation). If you get nauseated on planes, bring along some ginger tea bags to help settle your stomach—just ask for some hot water.
For extra-long flights, snacks such as seeds or dried fruit are OK. I also like to pack lozenges (such as Zand Echinecea lozenges) to keep my salvia flowing and get an extra immune system boost.
And, of course, don’t forget an eye mask and neck pillow to help you rest comfortably. Bon voyage!