The stress and excitement of ensuring you have everything you need packed away, familiarizing yourself with new rules and regulations, and getting to the airport on time for a long trip can make anyone feel a little crazy. Staying healthy during the flight is probably the last thing on your mind, so we’ve complied a list of facts and tips to help you do just that.
Make sure before you even leave for the airport you know what you can and cannot take in your carry-on or purse. Visit the Transportation Security Administration’s Web site. Pack items that will not pass security but that you need in the luggage you check.
Let your doctor know about your long trip if you have any medical conditions or concerns. Not only will your doctor advise for or against a trip, he/she can prescribe medication as needed, and let you know if your condition requires you to carry identification. It may seem basic, but you may need sleep aides or blood thinners and not realize it. This also applies for long distance road trips, or cruises.
When traveling to a foreign country, beware of epidemics or risk of disease. You may need to get vaccinated if traveling to a high-risk area. Check out the Traveler’s Health section of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for updated information. There, you can also read up on food and water safety.
During a long flight the cabin pressure causes our bodies to swell, which is why tight clothing and shoes should be avoided. Even if you are a fashionista, make an exception and wear looser, more breathable clothing. Think of dressing according to the climate of your departure city and destination. Chances are that you will feel cold during your flight, so layers are key.
The same rule applies to your feet! Wearing stilettos or your favorite pair of pointy-toe ankle boots is probably not the best idea. Your feet are the most prone to swelling, so wear a pair of shoes or sandals with some slack that are easy to take on and off. Think of it this way: aside from swollen feet, you will need to take your shoes off during security checks and you may have to run to catch a connecting flight.
Not only is loose clothing and shoes more comfortable to be in for long periods of time, but also the tight items will restrict blood flow as your body swells. This puts you at greater risk of a blood clot, or deep vein thrombosis. DVT happens when blood clots form in the deep veins of the legs or pelvis. This is very dangerous because a clot can travel to your lung and cause a heart attack or even death. Other ways to avoid DVT are by staying hydrated and exercising. Drink plenty of bottled water or non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated drinks. Obviously if you are on an airplane you cannot vigorously exercise, but doing simple stretches or getting up and walking every couple of hours will do the trick. Diana Fairechild, an author and media consultant who spent 21 years as a flight attendant, recommends contracting and releasing every muscle in your body as you sit an easy way to exercise.
The cabin pressure while flying will often cause your ears to pop, causing pain. Some ways to reverse this blockage are yawning, chewing gum, or swallowing something. Fairechild recommends, “Simply harden[ing] the back of your tongue … or hold your nostrils and very gently blow out while keeping you mouth shut.” Be very careful not to blow too hard, because this could result in damage to your eardrums. You will be able to find a plethora of information about flying smart, avoiding jet lag and much more advice from Fairechild’s Web site.
When you’re taking long road trips, make sure you are well rested and have your route planned out. IndependentTraveler.com recommends you clean out your car and join a roadside rescue group before heading out on the open road. One such group is AAA, which has a wonderful resource for planning your road trip well. On AAA’s Web site you’ll find the TripTik Travel Planner. This resource allows you to type in your starting and ending points and gives you turn-by-turn directions. You can also add multiple destinations along the way for a custom trip. You can also create maps of your destinations that can show AAA approved lodging, restaurants, auto repair shops and places that give member discounts. Also you can add the locations of gas stations, campgrounds, events and attractions at each destination. You can also get construction and scenic route information.
Once you get to your destination and unpack your bags, you might want to hop on a treadmill to get the blood pumping again. Much to your dismay, the receptionist tells you that they don’t have a workout facility, or the one they do have is in the “remodeled” supply closet and features 1972’s finest equipment.
Avoid this workout-wilting scenario by doing a little research prior to jet-setting. Click here for a list of “fit hotels” in the city you’re traveling, read a description of the workout facility and look at the reviews.
During a road trip you should also be aware that even if may not need to stop to eat or for a bathroom break, you should stop every couple of hours to get out of the car and stretch. Even though blood clots are more common on flights because of the pressure, being in a restrictive space in the same position for too long is unhealthy. This is especially true if you have health risks.
If you are taking a long distance trip by plane, car, cruise ship, bus or train, do your research. Have a plan, pack what you need without overdoing it and know the latest government regulations. Talk to your doctor, stay hydrated, sleep well and have fun!