How to Stay Fit, Body and Mind, on Long Haul Flights

You are setting out for a fabulous destination and you are super excited about everything EXCEPT the LONG plane ride.  The onslaught of dry air, sodium rich foods and inactivity, can wreak havoc on your body.  Don’t fret, though, help is on the way!   There are steps you can take to help you be more comfortable.  I’ve listed 11 tips below to help you stay fit, mind and body, during the dreaded long haul flights..  


1.  Drink plenty of fluids to keep hydrated as the humidity on airplanes is very low, about 12 percent.  Hydrate your face by spritzing frequently with water.  Remember the 3 ounce rule when bringing liquids on board.  You can always bring an empty spritzer bottle and fill it once you pass through security.  Consider adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the water.  The suggested proportion is 10 drops per four ounces of water.  Conde Nast Traveler has a great article sharing 10 skincare tips for long haul flights.  Click here to read.

2.  Bring a saline solution nasal spray and spray your nose a few hours into the flight.  Companies such as Arm and Hammer, Ocean and Ayr make saline nasal sprays.  Try one for comfort before packing it.  If you wear contact lenses, consider wearing regular glasses or cheaters on the plane as the low humidity in the cabin tends to dry contact lenses out.  If you have to wear them, be sure to bring wetting solution and use it often to keep your contacts moist. It is best not to wear your contacts while you sleep on a plane.  Bring wipes to clean your hands before touching your face.  They are also great for wiping down your seat and tray table.

3.  Request a low sodium meal from the airline if possible.  Eat more protein when you want to stay awake and more carbs when you want to sleep.  Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they act as diuretics and tend to dry out your system.  Bring healthy, low sodium snacks to enjoy between meals.  Pack snacks such as fresh fruit (apple slices, strawberries, grapes; bring small packages of peanut butter for an added protein boost), nuts, bars (protein bars, fruit and granola bars), dried fruit, popcorn, rice cakes, trail mix, dried veggies such as kale chips, cheese and crackers (Laughing Cow Cheese wedges require no refrigeration and are easy to peel and eat) or jerky, which is rich in protein.  When considering the jerky, dried veggies and crackers, look for those with the lowest sodium content.  If you are a tea drinker, bring some of your favorite tea bags.

4.  Ask your doctor about wearing compression socks to avoid swelling in your feet and ankles. Many manufacturers produce these socks. Here is one example of lightweight, easy to wash and effective compression socks.

5.  Consider bringing a neck pillow such as the Travelrest Ultimate Travel Pillow. Don’t forget to bring an eye mask to block out the light to help you to sleep.

6.  A sweater or jacket will keep you warm, or bring your own travel blanket for use if the temperature becomes too cold for you.  Check out the Premier Class Travel Blanket here , available at Amazon.

7.  Exercise (yes-you heard it right).  There are several exercises that you can do while sitting in your seat.  These exercises will help increase blood flow and help your tired muscles feel more relaxed.  Qantas Airline has shared a 4 minute exercise video that shows easy to do exercises that will fit the bill.  When possible get up and walk up and down the aisles of the plane. Incidentally, if you drink plenty of fluids, mother nature will help take care of this issue for you as frequent trips to the bathroom are also a good form of exercising on a plane.  One safety tip here: NEVER leave your purse, passport or wallet at your seat while visiting the bathroom, unless you are sitting with a trusted travel companion.

8.  Keep your mind active during wake times.  The airlines will have movies to watch and you can bring your own personal gear on board; music to listen to, an audible book or a paperback. These long flights are a great time to knit or crochet if you enjoy it, but why not use some of this time to learn a new skill?

9.  Do you meditate?  If not, this would be a great time to learn.  The background noise of the plane is perfect for meditation. Deepak Chopra, meditation and wellness guru, offers guidance on meditation for beginners.  Click here for some great tips.

10.  Bring a deck of cards and play with your seat mate.  Learn to play bridge, hearts, spades or poker.  Sudoku and crossword lovers sometimes bring books of puzzles to work on.  There are also adult coloring books that help to relieve stress and anxiety and put you in a meditative state.  Barnes and Nobles has a great selection, as does Amazon.  Here’s an example of adult coloring books: Color Me Happy.

11.  Start a travel journal while on the flight.  Write about what you are anticipating.  You may think you will remember everything, but with so many new adventures it is not easy.  Journal at the end or beginning of each day and when you get home, relish in all of the things you did.  Moleskin makes great journals.

The list can seem cumbersome.  You certainly don’t have to bring all of these things as each person is unique and has different needs.  They are very useful suggestions.  Don’t let the thought of a long flight stop you from visiting the places you’ve always dreamed of.

I’m sure that many of you have traveled on long-haul flights.  What other helpful suggestions could you offer?  Be sure to respond in the comment section below.

Marian Blessing

As a travel consultant for 30 years, Marian experienced first-hand, the positive impact traveling had on her and her clients. A problem she frequently encountered was women wanting to travel but not doing so due to the lack of a travel companion. In search of a solution, Marian created a local community where women could connect, establish friendships, and travel the globe together. The success of Marian’s local group led to the founding of WanderDivas, an online travel community for women.

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