Whenever our travel and family vacations require flying, our mission to stay healthy becomes more difficult. Believe it or not, this health nut does sometimes travel with a checked cooler, but distances that require more than 10 hours won’t generally work. Airplane travel limits what you can bring with you and also presents different challenges. Here are five tips for healthy travel when flying.
Hydrate during your flight and throughout your vacation.
Traveling through the skies can be a time when your body easily becomes dehydrated. That’s why we travel with our own stainless steel water dispensers in our carry-on. We go through TSA with them empty and refill them at the airport hydration stations which are usually filtered. One of the healthiest things you can do on an airplane is to increase hydration. Every time the flight attendants pass by, we ask for more water. Avoid alcohol and coffee as both contribute to dehydration. Coffee served before you exit the plane is okay as long as you are well-hydrated. When you arrive at your destination, secure your clean water source, and make hydration a daily goal. Practice moderation or abstinence from alcohol for your entire trip. Too much can ruin your trip.
Move on that airplane and every day of your trip.
Long flights promote a sedentary lifestyle which is not good for circulation. My husband and I now choose the aisle and middle seats so it’s easier to get up and move around. This movement along with increased hydration helps improve circulation and guards against blood clots especially as we age. Some people choose the window seat for better sleep. I can’t sleep on an airplane, so the window won’t help me.
When you arrive at your destination airport, avoid the people movers, and walk as much as you can through the airport. We tend to get more exercise on vacations than we do at home. Make sure you exercise each day. Skip the elevator and take the stairs. Keep in mind that some of the best tours are walking and biking tours. On a day in Paris, we actually clocked over 10 miles. On our recent trip to Animal Kingdom, we clocked 7.5 miles. All our extra steps and cycling helped us to not return home weighing an extra 5-10 pounds.
Choose foods wisely.
When we go on cruises or travel overseas, we eat at many buffets. I hate buffets because they tempt you to eat too much and later, I suffer the consequences. Therefore, we prefer restaurants. But when only a buffet is offered, we carefully choose the best foods and limit ourselves to one plate. We encourage ourselves to not pig out at any place we eat. We look for lean meats and wild-caught fish and seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, salads as meals, and drink water with lemon. I limit myself to one serving of bread each day when the bread is freshly made from whole grains without heavy pesticides and glyphosate.
Constantly drinking fluids with high calories is known to expand our waistlines. I’ve even brought my smoothie-dried ingredients in packets and asked the cruise line to make my smoothie for me with blueberries, greens, a banana, and plain yogurt. It never hurts to ask. When in hotel rooms, I make my own smoothie for lunch with my battery-charged Cuisinart Smart Stick. They don’t call me “The Smoothie-A-Day Gal” for nothing!
Your cruise ship or all-inclusive resort may offer meals around the clock but remember our bodies don’t do well when we eat too much or too close to bedtime. Every time there is a meal offered doesn’t mean you need to partake of it. Fill up on the array of fresh fruits and vegetables you didn’t have to clean and cut which abound in these places.
Ground yourself as soon as possible.
If you get jet lag (and you will on long flights), ground yourself by walking barefoot in the sand, ocean water, or on grass. Grounding helps restore your body’s circadian rhythms and electrical equilibrium. Just a 15-30 minute walk in your bare feet can bring your body back into balance. According to research, grounding activates the vegas nerve which helps to regulate our nervous system. Grounding can also improve sleep and boost our immune response.
According to the CDC, when we fly the US from coast to coast, we get just a bit less radiation than we do from a chest X-ray. Aircrews and frequent flyers receive higher radiation doses from cosmic radiation than the general public depending on the length and altitude of their trips. The higher and longer the trips, the more cosmic radiation.
Fair warning. The first time I decided to ground myself with my bare feet, I almost stepped on a snake! Look for clean ground like sand, and grass without heavy pesticides, slimy creatures, and pet feces. It’s best to look where you’re walking.
Make no plans for the first day after your arrival on overnight flights.
The fights overseas can really do a number on your body. I’ve been on many a mission trip where we started ministering right after we were picked up at the airport after missing a whole night’s sleep. By the sixth day, nearly all of us were run down and showing signs of immune dysfunction. No More. I’ve learned from the past. Now after we arrive, we go straight to our hotel and crash to make up for the sleep lost. We did this last year in London. Our hotel welcomed us at 9:00 a.m. with an air-conditioned room. After sleeping 4-5 hours, we took a stroll and ate an early dinner. We had time to view the Churchill Underground Museum, then we turned in early. The next morning, we were ready to go. Next year, we’ll need to be proactive when we fly halfway around the world to Australia. It’s also important to make sleep a priority for the rest of your trip.
There’s nothing more fun than exploring God’s creation around this beautiful world. But there’s nothing more disappointing than doing it while under the weather. These five tips for healthy travel when flying can help you maintain your stamina and avoid illnesses while you enjoy the opportunities before you.
What tips do you have for traveling by air? Did you ever wonder why pilots and flight attendants can only be in the air so many hours per week and must have time for rest in between?
For your health while you travel,
Ginny Dent Brant is a speaker and writer who grew up in the halls of power in Washington, DC. She has battled cancer, ministered around the world, and served on the front lines of American culture as a counselor, educator, wellness advocate, and adjunct professor. Brant’s award-winning book, Finding True Freedom: From the White House to the World, was endorsed by Chuck Colson and featured in many TV and media interviews. Unleash Your God-Given Healing: Eight Steps to Prevent and Survive Cancer was released in May 2020 after her journey with cancer and was recently awarded the First Place Golden Scrolls Award for Memoirs, and Second Place in both Selah Awards for Memoirs and Director’s Choice Award for Nonfiction at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference. It recently received the Christian Authors Network’s (CAN) Gold Award for Excellence in Marketing for reaching 62.5 million people with a message of cancer prevention and survival. It was written with commentary from an oncologist and was featured on CBN’s Healthy Living Show, Atlanta Live, and CTN’s Homekeepers along with over 75 media outlets. Learn more and cancer and wellness prevention blog and book information at www.ginnybrant.com.