Seven Commandments for Staying Healthy In-Flight
Really? Do you know anyone who has flown lately and hasn’t gotten sick? Rare! And it seems to be getting harder, almost as if we expect to get sick on airplanes. It’s like they’re flying Petri dishes of germs and bacteria! Fresh air? Forget it? Once airborne, we’re confined and captive audiences breathing re-circulated air. Yuck!
So, what to do? Well, I’m guessing that you’ve heard it all before, but do you do it? It takes a little planning and preparation, very little in fact, but it’s well worth it!
Here are your Seven Commandments for Staying Healthy In-Flight...
Repeat after me…”I hereby promise to…”:
#1 I Will Drink Up…and “I Will Make it Water.”
Airplane environments literally suck the moisture out of us. To avoid dehydration, drink water, drink water, drink water!
It’s recommended that you drink a glass about every hour when you’re in the air. Side benefit? It helps counter jet lag.
Avoid sodas, alcohol and caffeine as much as possible. If you’re a tea drinker, bring your own tea bags.
#2 BYOW – “I Will Bring My Own Water.”
You can bring a filtered water bottle OR buy bottled water AFTER you’ve been through all airport security checkpoints (otherwise you’ll have to dump it).
I always buy my own. Yes, it’s ridiculously overpriced, but I’m worth it and so are you!
If you forget, it’s OK if they offer water from a bottle, but avoid tap water on the airplane.
#3 BYOFS – “I Will Bring My Own (Healthy) Food and Snacks.”
Yes, getting ready to go on vacation is hectic, even stressful. You have all of the lists to check and double check. And I don’t know about you, but I always empty out the fridge before I leave. However, part of my trip preparation is be sure to get something to take on board.
So put this on your list:
1st Choice: Have something to eat before you leave for the airport.
Try not to arrive at the airport hungry. I’ve had those early morning departures and could barely get a cup of coffee down, then find I need something while I’m waiting to board. This is when temptation can get the best of you so be sure to bring something to snack on at the airport as well.
2nd Choice: Pack and bring something to eat while you wait to board and for in flight.
For your flight: Make a nice sandwich or wrap, and include some protein. Great choices include: string cheese, a hard boiled egg, bean or grain salad, nuts or trail mix, dried fruit, and fresh veggies or fruit – all of which will be fine without refrigeration for several hours. Remember, no fluids and anything borderline like yogurt, etc. has to be 3 ounces or less.
3rd Choice: All of the above.
I go to my local health food store the day before and get a healthy wrap, a “serving” of a good little grain or pasta salad and then a few other munchies. Just wrap everything in baggies and off you go. You can grab napkins, and plastic dinnerware at the airport.
Snack packs: You can often find pre-packaged individual servings of nuts or trail mix, high energy fruit rolls, as well as energy bars that travel well. They’re great to take on board and easy to stash in your luggage. They can come in very handy on the road when hunger pangs hit.
As much as possible, say no to junk food snacks, fried foods, salty and sugary temptations.
#4 And Don’t Forget – “I Will Bring Extra Vitamins and Supplements.”
Your immune system can be compromised by the stale, re-circulated air not to mention exposure to all kinds of interesting germs. I double up on Vitamin C, and a B complex, plus I bring homeopathics (if fluid, they don’t count in your 3 oz. pack!)
#5 If All Else Fails – “I Will Do My Best to Find Healthy Options.”
More and more airports and airlines are offering healthy options. However, all airports and airlines are not created equal.
Airport & Airline Options:
Check your airline’s website and see what you can find out about their in-flight meals (if you get one!).
You can opt for a healthier “special meal” if it’s offered, such as vegetarian, vegan, low fat-, gluten-free, etc. to avoid the usual fare.
Just say “no” to over processed, fast, fried, salty, and sugary food and to the airplane snacks.
Check out the airports you will be flying from/through/to as well. Look at the restaurants/food vendors in the terminals to see if there are healthy choices.
- Just because it says it’s “healthy” doesn’t mean it is.
- Try to eat or snack like you would at home.
- Just because you’re going on vacation doesn’t mean your eating habits do!
- Don’t let a little “slip” be a slide – we all succumb and go off track once in a while – OK, then back on track!
#6 Do NOT Touch – “I Will Avoid the Germ Zones “(as much as possible):
In addition to washing your hands as much as possible, bring a good supply of anti-bacterial wipes and gel.
I used to be slightly cavalier about this, but NO more! I knew there were germs lurking everywhere but two places I had never thought about were the seat pocket and the tray table. I actually thought they got cleaned in between flights–wrong!
When I read a a blog by a longtime flight attendant – OMG! I don’t want to gross you out, but I’ll give you a hint…diapers (dirty) and barf bags (used)…Yuck!!!
So, wipe the tray table and the arm rests, keep your hands out of the seat pocket, and avoid contact as much as possible with other germ zones.
#7 Get Out of Your Seat! – “I Will Move!”
Who designs those seats? Yikes! Counter stiffness, fatigue and stress by just moving! As soon as the Fasten Your Seat Beltssign if off, stand, stretch, stroll through the cabin, walk around. If you have a layover, don’t just sit around, move around!
How do you avoid getting sick while flying? Or do you? Do these tips help?
Photos/graphics: All but Air Mail Stamp courtesy of freedigitalphotography.net