Here are some healthy travel tips that will ensure you feel fresh upon arrival at your destination:
Becoming dehydrated on a flight is easy to do, particularly considering the insufficient amount of water most people drink day to day. And apart from the dehydrating effects of altitude itself, humidity in most airline cabins can drop down to 1% (humans are generally most comfortable in approximately 50% humidity).
Dehydration doesn’t just leave you thirsty – it could also leave you with dry sinuses, bloodshot eyes, swollen feet, dry/ itchy skin and potential constipation.
So to stay adequately hydrated on the plane:
- Make sure to drink a minimum of 250ml of water per hour.
- Take an empty stainless steel water bottle onto the plane with you. You won’t be able to fill it prior and get it thru security, but most air stewards are happy to fill it up for you once you’ve boarded (it’s much easier than having to constantly ask for glasses of water throughout the flight).
- Avoid alcohol. The dehydrating effects of booze are a huge part of a hangover. If you drink on the plane, you are guaranteed a memorable hangover upon landing.
- Avoid coffee and black tea on the flight. Caffeine is a diuretic (like alcohol) and will literally absorb water out of your cells.
- If your sinuses tend to dry out on long flights, take a clean hanky, immerse it in water place it on top of your nose and mouth. This will humidify the air you breathe.
- When you land, take a shower or a dip in the ocean. This will make you feel better pretty quickly as your body becomes hydrated thru every pore of your skin.
Also, if you are prone to mid-flight bloating, avoid sparkling beverages such as soda or mineral water as they may cause increased gas in the body.
Be prepared and take some healthy snacks
Saying no to the fatty/salty/sugary snacks available on flights and in airports is difficult, even for the health conscious. Fuelling your body with the right foods and nutrients is imperative to keeping your body nourished whilst in the air.
Consider packing in your carry on:
- Activated nuts such as walnuts, almonds and peptitas (any of them flavoured with tamari are delicious).
- A piece of fresh fruit
- An brown rice protein bar
- Vege sticks with hommus/ tahini
- Sugar free chocolate such as Pana chocolate or Loving Earth.
If you run out of time to prepare yourself well, opt for healthier options whilst waiting on the concourse:
- Salads with protein
- Pre-packaged trail mixes
- Nuts/ seeds
- Yogurt and fruit
Avoid white, processed carbohydrates
Plane meals are often rich in white, processed carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, pastries, crackers and white glutinous rice. Combined with dehydration, these foods can turn into glue in your gut and may potentially cause constipation over the first few days or weeks of your holiday. They are also nutrient devoid.
If you can remember to, try and order a gluten free meal before getting on the plane as these meals tend to be lighter on the processed carbs. If not, when you get your meal stick to eating the lean proteins (meats), vegetables, fruits and higher quality grains such as brown rice on the plate. Eating loads of greens in particular before and during the flight is useful as they help to oxygenate the blood.
One other random fact for your day as well: in WWII fighter pilots were fed cheese in order to stop fear-induced diarrhoea. So cheese for many can be constipating, so skip that when possible too.
As mentioned above, humidity in the cabin of a plane can go down to 1%. This can leave your hair, skin and lips super dry for days after the flight. Make sure to pack a high quality moisturiser and re-apply as often as possible (where possible) on the plane. Also pack some natural Papaw ointment to prevent your chapping on lips.
Take a FESS Tea tree nasal spray
Many travellers are unaware that the air circulating in the cabin can be full of other peoples bugs that can make you sick. It’s a common story to hear of someone coming down with cold or flu after being on the plane. To protect yourself (and moisturise you sinuses at the same time), use FESS Tea Tree Nasal spray before, during and after the flight (available at most pharmacies).
Take an eye mask and ear plugs
Long flights are the ideal time for catching up on sleep. However with airline budget cuts over the last few years, economy passengers are not often supplied with an eye mask and earplugs that ensure a quiet, restful sleep. It is a good idea to buy these prior to travel and take them onboard with you (most pharmacies sell these, but do yourself a favour and buy them before you get to the airport where they are often twice the price).
Remedies for travel sickness and sickness when travelling
Ginger is by far the superior remedy for motion sickness. Steeping fresh ginger in hot water is always best, but if taking it on board seems like too much of a hassle take a ginger supplement with you instead. Blackmores Travel Calm Ginger is a good alternative and is available at most pharmacies. Take 2-3 tablets half an hour before travelling. Alternatively, a weak black tea or peppermint tea will also settle down travel-induced nausea.
Gastroenteritis/ food poisoning/ preventing parasites
To avoid being stuck on the loo with diarrhoea and vomiting when you’re on your trip, start taking a month prior to departure:
- Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) – start at 3 drops a day and work your way up to 10. Continue to take this (higher) dose throughout the entirety of your trip. GSE has antibiotic properties, which work to kill any bacteria or parasites that could potentially make you sick. Taking them preventatively helps ward the bugs off. My favourite brand is Travellers Friend, which is available from most pharmacies and health food stores. NB: Please do not take GSE if you are taking calcium blockers for high blood pressure or statin drugs for high cholesterol.
- A high quality, broad-spectrum probiotic. Nutrition Care Polybac 8 is my favourite and available at most health food stores. Take a teaspoon a day prior to leaving, then buy and take a separate, room temperature stable probiotic with you for the travel itself (take 2 capsules a day on an empty stomach).
Melatonin – the super supplement for jet lag
Melatonin is the hormone secreted by the pineal gland that puts you to sleep every night. Its secretion is activated by darkness.
When you travel, you experience a different timing to light exposure that can result in the symptoms of jet lag. Studies have shown (particularly for long-haul flights across multiple time zones) that taking supplemental melatonin may reduce these symptoms and improve sleep quality upon arrival.
It is however imperative to know when you need your melatonin turned on and off (for sleep)…. making how and when you take the melatonin important:
- Always take the supplement once fully immersed in darkness.
- Take 1-3mg before sleep if you have flown west.
- If you have flown east, take the same amount before sleep. Then over the next 3-4 nights gradually take the dose earlier. E.g. Take it at 10pm on the first night, 9pm on the second, 8pm on the third and 7pm on the fourth.
If you arrive at your destination in daylight hours, you can also help to regulate your melatonin levels by staying active through the day (go for a walk) and by getting lots of sunshine as well.
NB: Supplemental melatonin is a neurohormone that can worsen symptoms of depression in a lot of people. As this is a medically prescribed supplement (in Australia), please speak to your doctor if you before taking this if you think you might be at increased risk.