Anyone who’s ever flown will recognise the peculiar feeling you have when you step off a plane. Excitement (and relief) at having reached your destination will likely dominate, but in the background lurk achy muscles, taut skin and a dry mouth. Sitting inside a tin can at 39,000 ft in the close company of strangers is an odd thing to do voluntarily and it can have some adverse effects on our wellbeing. So how can we best take care of ourselves during a long flight to make sure we’re bright eyed and bushy tailed when we arrive at the other end?
Stay hydrated: flying dehydrates every part of the body, from the eyes and skin to membranes in the nose and throat. If you’ve ever felt a bit hungover after a flight (even if you’ve steered clear of the mini gins) it’s likely to be down to dehydration coupled with fatigue. So drink plenty of water, have soothing eye drops to hand and regularly moisturise your hands and face. And steer clear of alcohol and coffee – they’re a sure-fire way to feel sluggish on arrival. There is a water refill point in most UK airport terminals now, normally as soon as you go through security. Remember to take your reusable water bottles and refill in the departure lounge before you board. It’s a win:win as you reduce plastic usage and save your pennies by not buying the extortionately priced water in Boots (other chemists are available). For more information on refill points available at Heathrow, click here https://refill.org.uk/partners...
Banish bugs: with a lot of people in a small space there are going to be germs whizzing about. And there will also be bugs lurking from previous passengers, too. How far you want to go with sanitization is up to you (some people like to wet-wipe arm rests, tray tables and touch screens…) but having some hand sanitizer at the ready and avoiding touching your face too much is a good start.
Boost immunity: you can’t avoid bugs entirely but you can give yourself a helping hand. In the days before your flight, eat and sleep well, try to avoid undue stress and take some exercise. Some people swear by vitamins or herbal supplements to protect against viruses.
Eat thoughtfully: digestion isn’t so efficient in the air, so eating lightly and avoiding fatty, sugary or starchy foods is best. That way you’ll avoid peaks and troughs of energy and hopefully fend off bloating and headaches. Take some fresh ginger, mint leaves or herbal teabags and ask the cabin crew for a cup of hot water to dunk them in.
Stay active: while having a sleep during your flight can help adjust your body clock, sitting stock still for hours on end will lead to stiff joints, sore muscles and swollen ankles. You might feel like a twit, but do the exercises suggested on your safety card or get up and walk around for a bit at least every hour. If you have a particular worry about DVT, pop on some glamorous compression socks, but remember they can be quite warm.
Keep your cool: window seats often benefit from the best airflow in the cabin, so choose one and make sure your ventilation is open to stop yourself overheating. Wearing loose clothes made from naturally breathable fibres should help too. It’s also a good idea to take off your shoes or boots when you get on board as your feet will swell in the air. A pair of fresh socks will keep up good relations with your neighbours.
Give your eyes a rest: tempting though it may be to catch up on all of the recent blockbusters, staring at a tiny screen for a long stretch can be quite a strain. Popping on an eye mask and resting can stop eyes drying out and help avoid tension headaches. It might also discourage non-stop chatting from an over-friendly seatmate…