The holidays are here, the holidays are here and with them a lot more people will be traveling. In fact, more Americans will be flying between Thanksgiving and New Years than at any other time of year. For the uninitiated, spending time in airports and airplanes during the holidays can be emotionally stressful and physically taxing too.
But, with a little common sense and planning you can make flying a much healthier experience – during the holidays, or at any time of year.
Here are some tips to help you:
* Eat something on a long trip, but not too much, because you’ll be sitting in your seat for an extended period of time. Stick with easy-to-digest carbohydrates (breads, pretzels, crackers) and skip the heavier food (meat, cheeses).
* Air in the cabin is typically dry, and if you aren’t careful you can become dehydrated. Make sure to drink something, but go easy on the alcohol or skip it altogether, and avoid drinks containing caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas). Best bet: Plain water, simple and refreshing.
* Here’s a bit of physics you should keep in mind: gas expands at altitude, often in uncomfortable ways. If you are planning on eating before or during your flight try to avoid foods like broccoli, burritos, etc. They can cause a bit of gastric distress as they digest. And plan ahead before you fly, you might want to see your dentist if it’s been awhile. Even a tiny pocket of air in a tooth cavity can expand and become painful at cruising altitude.
* You will be sitting for a long time and that can cause the blood vessels in your legs to contract. To stimulate your circulation, apply pressure to the balls of your feet. If you can reach your feet and massage them, that’s ideal. If not, periodically pressing the balls of your feet to the floor is also good.
* You can stimulate circulation before you get on the plane, too. We all have to arrive early for flights these days, so take advantage of the time and take a walk around the terminal. The time will pass, the exercise will improve blood flow and as a bonus… reduce stress.
* Make sure to keep all of your medications with you during your flight, in case there’s a delay or your luggage gets lost.
* Keep in mind what direction your are flying and plan accordingly. Crossing time zones causes jet lag, and when you are flying from west to east, it takes longer for your body to adjust to the time change. If you’re flying from California to New York, schedule your arrival in way that gives you time to rest up before doing something important – like a big holiday dinner with your family. And take heart: Your return flight east-to-west will involve an easier adjustment.
For more information about flying and healthy travel in general, visit Kaiser Permanente’s free online health encyclopedia. If prompted, choose Northern California as your area: https://members.kaiserpermanente.org/kpweb/healthency.do?hwid=te7636§ionId=te7637&contextId=te7636