Do you like flying? We sure do.
Some flights are, however, too long. They can get boring. Company Qantas is aiming to launch the longest flight in the world, brace yourself: last 21 hours! It will be a non-stop Sydney to London flight, in 2022.
But they can be linked to health risks too.
Planning a visit to Vietnam? Let’s say you are flying to Saigon from Europe. You will spend approx. 13-19 hours travelling (including transfer). Flying from the US? If you depart from NY, the flight takes approx 19 hours, from LA 16 hours.
So, how can you make this time as pleasurable for you (apart from watching movies) and for your body as possible? Our top 10 recommendations are:
1. Always bear your health status and medical condition in mind. Consult your doc if you have a lung disease, asthma, diabetes, colostomy… Are you pregnant? Especially consult your ob-gyn in the 1st and 3rd trimester. If all your checkups looked ok, you are good to go till 36 weeks. Checking airline policy and booking an aisle seat so that you can get up and stretch them pregnant legs is a good idea.
Do you have cardiovascular disease? Discuss with a doctor your fitness to fly since high altitude means less oxygen. Bring copies of any prescriptions using generic drug names; and, if appropriate, a pacemaker card with an ECG. Also, some people with fibrillation or “AFib” have a high risk for blood clots, which can lead to stroke. Forgetting to drink or sitting for a long time does not help either. We do not want to scare you, just stating the facts.
2. To drink, or not to drink, that is the question. We are paraphrasing Hamlet but the answer is obvious even for people without any health issues: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Plane cabins can get dry, there is AC, humidity is low… Our pro tip: Bring a refillable bottle, empty it before the security check and fill it at a drinking fountain at the airport. It is for free and more ecological than buying a plastic sealed water bottle. Try to drink a glass every hour, at least.
3. Which brings us to bacteria. No worries, planes are cleaned thoroughly. We guess you, same as us, had a case of a runny nose after travelling somewhere. Sniff sniff. It is because your mouth and nostrils get dry on the plane and they are prone to infections.
Bring nose spray, tissues and, candy. Another thing with bacteria: you are locked up with 200-500 people in a flying can. Washing your hands after using the toilet should be a normal human manner but going the extra mile and using an antiseptic sanitiser gel will not hurt.
4. Hard candy is also useful when landing. Chewing gum used to be popular but since it is made from synthetic plastics that do not biodegrade, we are fans of the candy option. Suck on it during take-off and landing so your ears do not pop. Because that just sucks. If it happens anyway, try the well known Valsalva manoeuvre (forceful exhalation when you hold your nose so your airways are closed.)
5. Eat lightly. Even if you are in the thin air, certain foods and drinks can give you gas. Avoid sweet soft fizzy drinks, junk food, beans, whole grains, and milk products. This one might be surprising. Craving a tomato juice on board? You are not alone. Scientific research shows that some foods just taste better 30,000ft (9 km) above the ground. Taste changes because the humidity levels change. So treat yourself, even to a Bloody Mary!
6. Move it as you mean it! Walk up and down the aisle whenever you can (at least once in 2 hours.) If sitting down, move and twist your ankles, flex your muscles and stretch your neck. Not only it prevents “cankles” (swollen ankles) and feet aka gravitational oedema but also more severe conditions like blood clots or DVT (deep vein thrombosis)
7. Wear loose and comfy clothes and shoes. They help to prevent things from number 6 and if you layer up, you are ready for both warm and colder environment. A scarf can also come in handy if that AC is extra blasting. If you do not travel low-cost, but let’s say with Singapore airlines, you are in the clear. Otherwise packing a warm pair of socks or a blanket is not a bad idea. Sacrifice style for comfort 🙂
8.Motion sickness. Suffering from it? Avoid back of the plane, try to get some meds that prevent it and if it happens anyway, try ginger tea, nibble on snacks, distraction by music or a book… If you have long-term issues with this, try taking Vitamin B-6 weeks before (but consult your GP about dosage). It helps with anxiety too, in case you are not the biggest fan of flying.
9. Problems falling asleep or waking up, fatigue, loss of concentration, loss of appetite or hunger at weird hours sound familiar? Maybe you have experienced jet lag in the past. And the older you get, the harder it hits you and it takes longer to get “back to normal” aka back to the circadian rhythm.
How to prevent it? If you can not schedule your flight in a smart way (trying to arrive ahead of your time), try to adjust your sleep schedule. Hate maths? Try Jetlag Rooster and calculate by how much per day and time zone you need to adjust your sleeping schedule. How to ease the symptoms if you are already feeling them? Stick to your new sleep schedule even if it means waking up sooner than you are used to. Sun will get your body back on track. Melatonin works magic.
10. Sleeping undisturbed can be a challenge when you sit close to a crying baby, the economy seat is not that comfy and attendants keep strolling up and down with the food cart. Prepare a blindfold, earplugs (or earphones with some nice tunes) and a neck pillow.
These tips are “plane” simple. Follow them and you will pass with flying colours and land on your feet (see what we did there?)