Keeping Fresh On That Flight To Paradise...
By Mary-ann Cerruti
Jun 28, 2009 - 11:42:09 AM

UNITED STATES—So you’re off on vacation this summer. You may be jetting off to Hawaii, Florida, Bahamas or as far as Bali, but what will be your primary concern? The fear of mosquito bites? The threat of a poor stomach from dining on foreign foods? Or would it be the traveling that worries you the most?


To many, traveling by plane is a fun start to an amazing vacation, but to others it spells a mountain of worries. Dehydration, travel sickness, lethargy, aching limbs and jet lag are just some of the common symptoms associated with traveling by air. So how do you arrive off that jet looking fresh-faced, bright eyed and bushy tailed?


First off, it is important to keep hydrated on a flight, be it long or short haul. Dehydration leaves you feeling sluggish, drying out your skin, eyes and throat. Keep water intake to a minimum of half a liter (500ml) per hour. This will flush out toxins to prevent water retention and swelling in the legs and feet. Make sure you stock up on water once through security at the airport and pack rehydration tablets too.  Your eyes should be lubricated with eye drops to keep them hydrated and keep alcoholic drinks to a minimum or, ideally, avoid them altogether as they will only accelerate the dehydration process.


Make sure you have checked in with your doctor prior to flying. Those with a history of DVT (deep vein thrombosis) and blood clots may be at a high risk for circulation problems and should make sure they will be safe and take the relevant medication prior to travel. Long journeys, flights over four hours long, are thought to greatly increase the risk of DVT, particularly in unhealthy, pregnant, weak or obese individuals.


Reduced oxygen levels in the plane, lack of mobility, cramped uncomfortable positions for long periods and reduced cabin pressure all contribute to problems with circulation. Adopting simple exercises on the plane can help to keep circulation pumping; simple yoga practices on the plane such as circular movements of the ankle and flexing of the calf muscles as well as walking around every hour or so will help to counteract the loss in circulation. Elastic compression stockings are also most useful when used alongside the circulatory exercises on the plane. They work by effectively pushing down on the legs to prevent “pools” of blood clotting in the veins. Your doctor will advise what will work best for you and whether or not you are in the “at risk” category for DVT.


Feet swell up to one size bigger than their usual size on a long haul flight so bare this in mind when selecting footwear. Keep clothing comfortable, loose, lightweight and breathable.


Sleeping tablets should be avoided as they cause immobility and a loss of conscious surroundings—you will wake up feeling groggy and miserable. Yawning and chewing sugar-free gum will help to counteract any ear popping from cabin pressure, especially on takeoff and landing, while a small pot of moisturizer will work wonders on your skin in keeping it rehydrated in the dry recycled cabin air. Minimize the effects of jet lag by setting your clock to the local destination time and adjusting your eating and sleeping times accordingly.


On disembarking the plane, take a gentle walk to loosen up the limbs and muscles and to get your blood pumping freely again. Keep drinking lots of water as your body will still be greatly dehydrated from the journey, and on arrival at your hotel refreshing eye masks will make you feel a whole world better.


Do it right and you will arrive at your vacation destination looking—and feeling—ready for anything!



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