Five Steps to Healthy Flying

by Gareth Branwyn for Digital Living Today

Every frequent flyer knows the health perils involved in taking to the skies. No, not the chances of a crash or a terrorist attack, we’re talking about the recycled human exhaust, the prison-grade food, and the super-germs that lurk in the bathrooms. Given that all this is common knowledge, it’s surprising how few people do anything to limit the impact of this toxic environment. Here are a few simple steps that can help you stay healthy and, equally important, look great when you arrive at your destination.

Step 1: Prepare for Take-Off. Before your trip, make sure to boost your immune system with healthy eating, vitamins, Echinacea/Goldenseal, or whatever health supplements you trust. Get plenty of rest, too. The common practice of running yourself down so you can sleep on the flight is counterproductive. Everyone packs for the trip, but few people pack for the plane. Bring your own food, water, comfortable shoes, a sweater, and other provisions discussed below.

Step 2: Don’t Touch Anything! Planes are beyond filthy. Bring a packet of anti-bacterial wipes and clean your hands before you eat anything or put your fingers in your eyes, nose, or mouth. When you use the bathroom, use a paper towel to touch handles and use your own wipes to wash your hands.

Step 3: Drink Like Crazy. Unfortunately, we’re not talking about cute little bottles of booze; we’re talking about water. Drinking alcohol dehydrates you and the air in planes is already way too dry. You want to stay hydrated with lots of bottled water. Many people don’t know that there are no standards on airlines for water quality. Luckily, many airlines now hand out bottled water. Just in case, pack your own.

Step 4: Bring Your Own Environment. Personal air purifiers, gizmos that you wear around your neck, are a great way to keep some of the cruddy cabin air at bay while giving you a constant dose of moist, ionized air. This treated air can make you feel a lot more energized and awake at the end of your trip. You’ll look like a dork, but it’s worth the sartorial shortcomings. Be advised that these devices can irritate some people’s sinuses, so your mileage may vary. See DLT’s article on Personal Environment Zones for more information on PEZs. For long, time-zone-hopping flights, sound-canceling headphones can cut down on jetlag. These phones block out unwanted cabin and jet engine noise (which can contribute to fatigue). Bring your own CD player (or laptop) and the music you enjoy rather than relying on the poor selection and sound quality of in-flight audio.

Step 5: Primp for Landing. Most women already know the benefits of moisturizers, but few guys ever touch the stuff. On a plane, you should. Right before your flight lands, moisturizer your face and hands — it’s a great way to freshen up. You should also carry a good eye cream for grueling flights that leave bags and dark circles. Carry some eye drops, too. Even if your eyes aren’t particularly bloodshot, they will be dry.

At first, you may feel like a Howard Hughes wannabe swabbing down the cabin with wipes and lugging around your cabin-health carry-on bag. But it’ll all be worth it the first time you feel like a human being rather than a side of beef as you head to that big meeting.

Related reading