by Isabel Conway -
Travel Times spends more than half the year on the road, with a lot of long haul flights in the mix. Maintaining good health whilst flying requires special considerations.
That thought struck home when I returned from yet another mega journey with a chest infection and a broken toe.
Beating jet lag on arrival is another tricky fall out of faraway travel. Here are some tried and tested flight tips, collected from experts and our own long experience for staying healthy whilst in flight and importantly to make the most of that trip of a lifetime or long haul business trip.
Staying healthy whilst in flight should be uppermost in all our minds, whether travel writers, industry professionals or holiday makers.
Dressing comfortably for long haul travel is essential, wearing layers and carrying a light scarf to wrap around your neck when those shafts of cold air sweep through the cabin. Clothes that constrict can cause compression of the blood vessels, a doctor friend points out. Drink plenty of water, he advises, and lay off the booze, except on night flights perhaps a sleep inducing red wine with dinner.
For flights six hours or more wear compression stockings to help prevent blood clotting and half an aspirin is also recommended in advance of the journey.
At times lower humidity levels can make the air on board feel dry. The dryness makes blood more concentrated and can promote a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and its complications, my doctor friend warns.
To combat dehydration and dryness keep drinking water. If you have dry eye trouble use eye drops and be sure to take small tubes of moisturizer balm and hand cream to keep the skin moisturized.
Be sure to take a drink of water or a non-alcoholic beverage whenever its offered because your hydration levels will stay constant while research shows moving about can prevent a DVT. Keep moving regularly, even if you have a window seat and must disturb your neighbours. Nobody dares object whenever a call of nature is discreetly announced!
Graduated compression stockings are championed for preventing DVT. While preventative measures are still debatable, passengers should change leg positions regularly. Constricted seat space which seems to become tighter all the time with airlines fitting in extra seating to save costs is increasingly challenging and makes moving around the aircraft at regular intervals all the more important.
The experts say: "Change leg positions regularly and avoid crossing your legs at the ankles or knees. Keeping hydrated and performing ankle circles, knee lifts and knee to chest lifts as well as foot pumps.” An online search will show plenty of diagrams and further flight tips to help keep the body in good shape on board.
Beat the jet lag: Jet lag (official name desynchronosis, or flight fatigue) is a temporary disorder causing tiredness, insomnia, sometimes headaches, nausea and constipation as a result of air travel across different time zones. It’s caused by a disruption to the internal body clock controlling your daily wake-sleep pattern. Hydration here again comes into play. Your body recovers best when it isn’t depleted of liquids and you steer clear of caffeine loaded carbonated drinks before and during the journey. Some experts suggest that jet lag can be minimised by adjusting your sleep routine in advance to later if you’re flying west and earlier flying east.
Adjusting your watch to match the time at your destination is said to be a tried and tested jet lag deterrent because it prepares you for the new time zone you will enter.
One trick I’ve tried myself in a bid to fight off jet lag is turning off gadgets on arrival, fighting the desire to go on social media or follow news until you’ve had some serious shut eye first. Medicinal and homeopathic remedies to correct an out of sync body clock are available in pharmacies and health stores and flight crews swear by melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating the body’s internal sleep-wake cycle. Certain types of cherries (Montmorency tart variety) are a natural source of melatonin , helping to induce sleep. Just make sure you keep them out of the martinis or you’ll be bright eyed and bushy tailed all night long.