Flying can take a toll on our bodies and our overall health. On long flights the risks may be greater and even more important to take proactive steps that maximize your health. This post provides several key tips on how to stay healthy on a long flight.
This is a guest post from Samantha Karen, the founder of Sam Sees World, a travel blog. She is on a mission to seek the new and unknown so she can document her experiences and inspire others to travel this wondrous world. She has written about numerous topics including 10 Things to Do in Amsterdam.
How to Stay Healthy on a Long Flight – Practical Tips
It is important to understand what causes you to get sick on planes and how to prevent it. In this post we describe several ways to stay healthy on a long flight.
If you are constantly getting off long haul flights and feeling under the weather, or if you want to prevent feeling this way, follow these tips to remain healthy while flying.
Get enough sleep prior to your flight
Getting enough sleep is one of the best ways you can ensure your immune system is functioning at its best. Prior to a flight make sure you get 7-8 hours of sleep, so your body is ready to fight the onslaught of germs it is about to endure. Through this, you are preparing your immune system to fight germs in an unknown environment at its fullest potential.
Everyone knows that drinking adequate amounts of water is essential for good health, but the importance of water is amplified while flying. Cabin air increases the speed of dehydration and when your body is dehydrated it can cause you germ fighting mechanisms to not work properly and for your nose and throat to dry out.
You might be interested in Travel Tip Tuesday #17: The Importance of Staying Hydrated while traveling (Healthy Travel Tips)
The best ways to stay hydrated are as follows:
- Bring your own reusable water bottle and fill it up before departure. It is recommended you drink at least 8 ounces of water every hour and a large reusable water bottle is the most effective way to fill this need. Extra tip: on long haul flights go back to the galley and ask if they can fill up your bottle, they are always more than willing!
- Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks as these dehydrate you even more
People usually take travelling as an excuse to stop eating healthy and in indulge in some unhealthy options. This is fine if you indulge while actually at your travel location but should be avoided while flying. An unhealthy diet has a huge impact on your immune system, which can cause you to get sick more easily from flying.
You might be interested in The 7 Habits of the Healthy Business Traveler: How to Stay Healthy While Traveling for Business
If you are a person who normally eats very healthy and suddenly changes your eating habits at the airport to processed, greasy foods, the impacts on your immune system will be even more dramatic.
Thankfully, most airlines allow you to bring your own food on planes! With this option you can completely control what you will eat on your flight. It is best to eat foods rich in antioxidants, full of vitamins, and packed with healthy proteins. Some great options to bring on planes are:
- Sandwiches, lettuce wraps, salads
- Fresh fruits and veggies
- Energy bars
- Nuts and dried fruits
Practice Good Hygiene
As we know, planes are full of germs from all around the world. Germs can live for up to 7 days on a plane and for long flights this can mean up to 10 different people’s germs are living on your seat. In addition, flight crews have a very limited amount of time between flights to clean the most obvious messes, therefore, sanitation is not a priority.
Buying disinfectant wipes is essential to sanitize your area to ensure you aren’t in direct contact with germs that can be avoided. A pack of wipes costs only a few dollars but can make a huge difference in your health after the journey.
The most important places to disinfect are:
- Seatbelt buckle
- Tray table – this is actually the most germ infected place on the whole plane, it has 8x more germs than the flush button in the airplane bathroom!
- Arm rests
- Seat Pocket
Use Hand Sanitizer
The amount of different people’s germs you will have touched at both the airport and on the plane is substantial. And on long flights you may rub your eyes or touch your face often due to fatigue or habit. This is dangerous because you are most likely to get sick from germs entering from your nose, eyes, and mouth.
If you are prone to touching your face, make sure you disinfect your hands to ensure you prevent germs from entering your body. Although, it is best to avoid touching your face altogether.
A mini hand sanitizer bottle is usually pretty affordable and can be key in preventing flight sickness.
Choose the right seat
Beyond health, choosing a good seat is an important decision for long flights. But there are some seats that are better for your health than others.
The best seat to prevent illness from flights is the window seat. In this seat you encounter significantly less germs than the other seats. While the worst seat is the aisle. Here you encounter several times as many germs as the window seat. Moreover, avoid sitting near the bathrooms as these seats tend to have lots of people walking by throughout the flight.
Read How to Pick your Seat on a Southwest Flight
Airplanes poses great risks to getting sick, but there are ways we can mediate these risks.
1. Get enough sleep Prior to your flight
- Drink Water
- Eat Healthy
- Practice good hygiene
- Use Hand Sanitizer
- Choose the right seat.
Staying healthy is only one of the challenges of getting through long flights, the other is enduring the long journey.
Read 13 Long Haul Flight Tips – how to survive a long flight
Samantha Karen is the founder of the travel bog Sam Sees World. She is on a mission to seek the new and unknown so she can document her experiences and inspire others to travel this wondrous world. She has written about numerous topics including 10 Things to Do in Amsterdam.
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Also add Deep Vein Thrombosis measures, which is to move your leg around or walk.
Some great tips, I’m always guilty of not drinking enough water!