I have spent a lot of time on planes over the years. My mom was a flight attendant, so I don’t even remember my first plane ride. As an adult, I’ve traveled for work a fair amount and we prioritize vacations to see the world every year. All that time on planes has given me the chance to refine my travel skills and incorporate healthy habits into each trip. These healthy travel tips help me arrive at my destination feeling ready to hit the ground running – no matter how long the flight lasts!
Long flights add another layer of challenge to your health, as sleep can often be a challenge. Even in the short term, lack of sleep can affect judgment, mood, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. Although sleeping on a plane will rarely feel like a full 8+ hours in your own bed, these tips will help minimize the impact and help you adjust quickly!
Disclaimer: Throughout this post, I may link to products that I currently use to help support long-distance travel using an affiliate link. When you purchase a product using that link, I will earn a small commission. All affiliate links with be followed by an asterisk (*). Thank you for your continued support of FITaspire!
Healthy Travel Tips
1. Destination Time Zone
If you remember one thing from these healthy travel tips, remember this one. It will change your travel life. When you are crossing many time zones in one trip, change to your destination time zone the moment you step on the plane. For example, if you are traveling from Colorado to Sweden, you should adjust your schedule to Sweden time. If it’s evening in Sweden, try to go to sleep as close to your normal “bed time” as possible.
To make this easier, you may adjust your sleep schedule the night before to help you fall asleep easier (get up earlier or later than normal). Other resources to help with sleeping on the plane:
- Natural sleep aids: like melatonin and lavender.
- Contoured eye mask* to block the light. The contoured version allows your eyes to blink without hitting the mask. I use this every night to help support restful sleep.
- Thick neck pillow* to allow easier sleep positions. It looks like a neck brace, but actually allows you to sleep without a stiff neck.
- Noise-cancelling headphones* to block out the airplane noise.
I shared this tip with a co-worker who had a short trip to China recently and she said it changed her travel completely!
2. Health Snacks
Airplane food is not always the healthiest option, so bringing your own snacks gives you a little more control over your choices. Especially on long flights, you want to have options that sit comfortably in your stomach. A few snack ideas that I have used in the past include:
- Quest Bars
- Generation UCAN Snack bars
- Beef jerky
- Pistachios (bring an extra baggie for the shells)
- Green Juice (for a veggie recharge). You can’t bring this through security, but I often find it at one of the shops in the airport.
I look for things that can fit easily into my travel backpack without getting crushed.
3. Water Bottle
Although you can’t bring liquids through security, you can bring an empty water bottle. And I highly recommend that you do! I find that if I bring my own water bottle, I’m more likely to stay hydrated throughout the trip. Once you cross through security, you can fill up the water bottle for the rest of the trip.
>> How much should you drink? Take your bodyweight (in pounds), divide in half. That’s your daily ounces of water goal.
If you’re not a fan of plain water, you can add a drop of lemon or peppermint essential oil to add flavor (plus extra benefits). I brought a small 5ml bottle of both on our current trip and it’s been great to have with me!
4. Layover Laps
If you have a layover during your trip, make the most of that time by getting some extra steps in while you’re on the ground. This is especially important if your layover is during daytime hours at your destination, as moving will help you stay awake.
If the airport is larger, walk from concourse to concourse and soak in all the sites. Look for unique foods that are being served, stores that are unique to the airport location, and soak in some good people watching time. I’ve only been to the airport in South Korea, but I used that time to try bibimbap (a local dish) and check out the local snacks they sold. And I logged several thousand extra steps before boarding my next flight!
5. The First Day
The last tip is related to the first tip, as you adjust to the new timezone. If you were able to sleep or stay awake on the destination schedule, this tip will be a little easier. The first day at your destination is crucial in adapting quickly.
Once you land, remember to stick with your plan through the first day – even if it’s hard. Stay awake until at least 8PM that first night, to help you sleep soundly and wake up on the new schedule. Resist the urge to take a nap, but keep it short if you must. If you can “suck it up” on this first day, you’ll adjust very quickly and the rest of your trip will be much more fun!
A few tricks that help me on the first day are:
- Plan outdoor activities, like a walking tour of the city
- Stay moving as much as possible
- Avoid dark places where you’ll be sitting a lot (like a movie), where it’s easy to fall asleep
- Taste the local coffee or tea, but don’t overdo the caffeine.
- Plan dinner, so that you’ll be finishing when you’re ready to head to bed
I hope these healthy travel tips help you make your next long flight a little easier, and allow you to adjust faster than ever to your destination!