Health Advocate Blog

Wheels up! Staying comfortable when flying long-distance

You may be familiar with the old adage, “It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey.” If you have a long flight ahead of you, whether for vacation or business, this saying could not be truer. Your travel experience sets the tone for your trip, so having a comfortable, if not enjoyable, flight can make a big difference in how you feel upon arrival. Making a few small tweaks to your pre-flight plans can help improve the journey and prepare you to enjoy your destination: 

Dress comfortably. Now is not the time to worry if you’re wearing the latest fashions. Wearing easy, soft layers that you can adjust based on varying temperatures will go a long way toward ensuring your comfort. Additionally, wearing slip-on sneakers makes it easy to walk to faraway connecting flights, kick off your shoes at security, and add an extra pair of socks for warmth in the air.

Consider compression. Speaking of socks, wearing compression socks on a long flight can help reduce swelling and maintain circulation when you’re going to be sitting for a long time. As these have grown in popularity, so have the options, so you can pick a fun pair and not worry about how they look!

Stay hydrated, and drink wisely. Water, water, water. Flying is dehydrating, so it’s especially important to continue drinking water before and during your flight, plus those extra restroom trips will keep your legs moving versus sitting for hours on end. If you’re not a big fan of plain water, mix in some fruit or electrolyte tablets or powders to add some flavor. While complimentary alcoholic beverages can be a nice addition to your in-flight meal, moderate your consumption to avoid further dehydration. Finally, try to avoid caffeine before and during your flight. Not only can it impact your ability to sleep and adjust to a new time zone, but it can also make nervous fliers extra jittery.

Moisturize. For the same reason as above, keep hand and face lotion handy and reapply generously throughout your flight. Your skin will thank you later. Separately, pack a small in-flight toiletry bag with a toothbrush and toothpaste, hairbrush and wipes. Freshening up before you land or between connecting flights can help you feel so much better during a long day of travel.

You are what you eat. As tempting as those airport baked goods and salty snacks can be, try to select healthier options that won’t impact digestion or cause extra bloating. Pick up a piece of fruit, small veggie tray, or protein bar to squelch hunger (real or boredom-induced). You can also pack your own snacks to improve your choices and save money. Also, take advantage of in-flight meals if offered, but try not to overeat.

Accessorize for sleep. You may look silly, but wearing ear plugs and an eye mask can go a long way toward muting distractions and helping you catch some zzz’s in the air. If you have room in your carry-on, bringing a travel pillow and your own oversized scarf or blanket can make you more comfortable, helping you feel more refreshed when you get to your destination.

BYO entertainment. While most long-haul flights offer in-seat entertainment with great options, it might be a good idea to bring your own books, magazines, or a device loaded with a movie or television series you haven’t had the time to check out. Also, bring your own headphones as the ones offered on the plane may not be the best quality or fit as well as your own.

Move around. Finally, keep moving! Set a timer on your phone to walk a lap through the aisles every hour or so or try standing up and stretching at your seat. These easy in-flight stretches are also worth a try. This will help avoid cramps or aches and keep your blood moving.

These ideas should help make your next long-haul flight a much more pleasant experience. Bon voyage!