5 Ways to Feel Healthy and Refreshed After a Flight3 min read
The only thing separating you from your much-deserved vacation is a plane ride. But if you haven’t prepared for your time in the sky, whether it’s just a few hours or longer, it can be tough on your body. Sitting on a plane isn’t necessarily a healthy environment – the cabin pressure and other environmental factors can wreak havoc on your system, making you feel tired, dehydrated and, in a few days, sick.
The good news is there are things you can do before and during your flight to walk off your flight feeling great and ready to thoroughly enjoy your vacation.
Some of the most common health problems that affect you during and after a flight are often due to the lack of humidity in the cabin air. The air inside a plane cabin typically has a humidity of 10 to 20 percent, which is much lower than your typical indoor humidity of 30 to 65 percent. This makes it very important to stay hydrated and drink fluids on a plane. You may even want to buy a big bottle of water in the airport before boarding to drink during your flight.
- Protect your skin, eyes and nose
Your skin and eyes are also affected by the low humidity in a plane cabin. Drinking plenty of water can keep your skin hydrated from the inside, but you can hydrate the skin on your hands and face by applying a moisturizer – this can prevent the dry air from causing your skin to become dry, itchy and flaky. Just pack a travel size moisturizer in a TSA-approved quart size bag and apply it during your flight to protect your skin from moisture loss.
Inside that quart bag, you should also consider packing eye drops and nasal sprays. Saline drops or medicated eye drops can be a lifesaver for your peepers in dry cabin air, especially if you wear contacts. Saline nose spray or drops can help prevent nasal discomfort from the low cabin humidity.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Beverages containing alcohol or caffeine should be avoided or kept to a minimum while flying. Caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea and soda can promote dehydration and alcohol may aggravate dehydration. Plus, these drinks tend to pack on extra, empty calories – water is your best choice.
- Move around
Sitting for hours is simply not good for you. When you’re flying, it seems you have no choice but to remain seated for hours at a time. This is problematic – when you’re sitting for a long period of time, blood collects in your legs and feet. This can cause mid-flight foot swelling or, in extreme cases, it can escalate to deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or blood clots in your legs. Before your flight, stand up and walk around the gate instead of sitting even longer before your flight. When you’re on the plane and the fasten seatbelt light turns off, get up or take bathroom breaks to encourage blood flow. When you’re in your seat, flex your feet, contract your calf muscles and, if you have room, extend your legs to circulate blood upwards.
- Be careful of what you touch
The low-humidity environment on a plane can increase your risk of catching a respiratory virus, such as a cold. Humidity in the air keeps your airways moist so the lining can help trap germs trying to enter your system. When the air you’re breathing is too dry, mucous in your airway can’t work as well, letting bacteria and viruses enter more freely. That’s why it’s so important to keep your hands off of your face and away from your eyes, nose and mouth – if you touch a surface with bacteria on it and then touch your face, you’re transferring it right into your body. This is also why you should consider packing hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes in your TSA-friendly bag – they’ll help you keep your hands, seat, tray table and all of the other surfaces around you clean.
Photo from U.S. News & World Report.