How to stay sane and healthy on a long flight…

Summer is upon us, and most of us are probably going to take advantage of the fact that the kids are off school and take the time to travel for a longer vacation. Usually this means airplane travelling. If any of you reading this post know me well, you know how I dislike long and short flights, mostly because I really have to focus on not getting air sick. I am not afraid of flying.

Plane-flying-away-1.jpgWe have travelled often over the years, and having lived back and forth in 2 different countries, one being in Europe, we often go back to visit friends and family. The objective of every vacation is to arrive relaxed, and visit a dream destination you have always wanted to see. You will want to arrive healthy and invigorated enough to enjoy every moment. Here’s what you can do to help you on your journey!

The risks

No I do not mean the risk of crashing….but rather the risks to our health when flying.

It is a proven fact that the air we breathe on air planes is not clean. Often infested with viruses and bacteria passing through the ventilation systems, and being in extremely close quarters with, sometimes over 300 people, surely makes you think twice about taking your next deep breath. On board Flight QF2 from London Heathrow LHR to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi BKK

In addition to this, being at an altitude that can go up to 39,000 ft, the pressure and oxygen levels are usually set to correspond to 6,000-8,000 ft of pressure. We then add the limited humidity levels set between 20%- 25% (rather than the normal 35% in our homes)  …it is no surprise that our natural breathing can often feel laboured. Not to mention the effects it can have on our circulation and skin.

What I do to stay sane and healthy on a long flight

As with all health and wellness remedies, we have to start with prevention. There are things you should be doing BEFORE you board the plane in order to avoid some very uncomfortable situations.

boardingplane.jpgPre-boarding to do’s

Start drinking water well before you start boarding. With such a limited level of humidity, your body will be begging for liquids by the time you arrive at your destination. The lack of humidity may also cause eye dryness, so if you usually wear contacts, it would be best to remove them during the flight.

I also tend to eat before I board the plane, in small quantities, and often. I aim to eat dry and fresh fruits mostly, particularly dried nuts thanks to their high level of magnesium which both helps me relax and supports my queasy stomach.  I  completely avoid air plane food.

The high altitude has been shown to numb taste buds, and so food generally tastes..just ok, or worse on flights. The colder, drier air makes it quite a challenge to serve tasty food on flights anyway…that’s why they usually add fatty sauces to the meats… Also, eating fresh fruits before you board will help you stay hydrated during the flight, as well as support your immune system.

Essential oils before and during flight

Essential oils have an infinite use when it comes to your wellness. You can read more

chamomile.JPG
Roman Chamomile EO

about the essential oils I adore here. An oil such as lavender, or roman chamomile, can help keep anxiety at bay and support a good rest, while certain citrus oils, ginger or peppermint essential oils can also help symptoms of air sickness, and in some cases prevent air sickness all together. The use of certain essential oils in or on diffusers, as well as diluted on skin, can also support your immune system during long flights.

If you don’t have a diffuser you can take along with you (ie jewellery diffuser), you can add a few drops to a napkin and keep it closed in a ziplock. You a take a whiff of the napkin every so often to reap the benefits of the oils.

Flexing and moving

We all know how cramped seats can get on flights, let alone having to sit for hours on end. In addition, 2 US airline companies recently announced they will be reducing the leg space by an additional 2 inches on a number of planes...no comment here. 

yoga-in-the-dandylions
Yoga for Wellness

Due to the limited seat and cabin space not only will you begin to get restless more quickly, some may even be at risk of blood clots due to the reduction in blood circulation. Experts suggest to flex your calves and ankles whenever possible, as well as stretch out limbs to encourage blood circulation and limit cramping.

If you practice yoga, the doyouyoga website also suggests specific seated asana poses one can practice before a flight, even at the airport!

Breathing exercises

I know I mentioned we may want to limit deep breaths on a flight to avoid germs…in reality, a good breathing exercise will help improve blood circulation and keep you calm during a long flight.

Here are some breathing exercises suggested by the website calmclinic.

Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!

I cannot repeat this enough times. The dryer, recycled air, and limited oxygen in airplanes can drastically increase the need of hydration for your body. If you cannot drink larger amounts of liquids before a flight, do take small  frequent sips of water during the flight. This will help keep your body functioning normally, as well as improve overall skin hydration.

womhealth1Keeping your skin hydrated is also fundamental of course. You will notice, it will often not be enough to apply a facial or hand cream only before the flight. You will certainly feel your skin taught by the time you land. Apply a good nourishing skincare cream or hydrating facial oil at least twice during an 8 hour flight.

Prevent congestion and airplane ear

If you are sensitive to air pressure and have experienced ear pain during a flight you know what I am talking about. It normally occurs during take off and landing, but it can also last throughout a flight. It happens when the Eustachian tubes that drain the ears fail to regulate the pressure on the eardrum, preventing it from vibrating as it should and causing pain.

airplaneear.jpg
airplane ear prevention

You are particularly susceptible if you are ending or starting a cold, or if you have seasonal allergies that may cause sinus congestion. Families travelling with children….you will want to do anything you can to avoid “airplane ear” on a long flight.

Activating your jaw muscles can help prevent this condition, so chewing gum and opening and closing your jaw, as well as swallowing, may help. If however you are congested or prone to “airplane ear” purchasing filtered earplugs which will help regulate pressure. Ear drops are also available, but rather than prevent, these may help reduce the pain once it begins.

If you are congested however, make frequent use of nasal saline water, which will also help keep your nasal cavity moisturized, and take decongestants before you board the plane.

After the flight

Copy of shutterstock_61325434 low.jpgOnce you finally arrive at your destination I know you will want to hit the beach, or that gorgeous European city you’ve always dreamed of visiting your entire life. If you get a chance, change out of your travel clothes and  jump in a warm shower to get that airplane smell and whatever germs you may have picked up on the plane off of you. Continue to drink extra water at least for 24 hours after you land, as well as give your skin the extra moisture it will need to safely soak up those rays!

Bon voyage mes amis!

Barbara C.

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