As exciting as travel is, it can also wreak havoc on your body. Long hours on the road or in a plane can lead to swollen limbs, a sore throat, headaches, heavy legs, dehydration, dizziness, and dry skin. And while it’s great to talk about all the fun parts of travel, it’s probably more important to talk about the downsides to learn how to prevent some of them.
While I’ve been fortunate to travel to all the continents (including Antarctica at five months pregnant), it was a long-haul trip to Australia that really made me aware of how important it is to practice self-care even at 30,000 feet in the air. After 52 hours spent on a plane, and countless other shorter journeys, here’s how can you make the trip a little less painful.
1. Get some extra sleep the night before you have to travel
Even though you’re sitting a lot, getting from point A to point B can be exhausting. Some quality shut-eye will help you make it through the travel day.
2. Drink a ton of water
I know it’s not ideal to get up often to use the airplane bathroom. But staying hydrated is key to not feeling like crap when you land. The lack of humidity in the air of the plane means you’ll get dehydrated much faster. Bring a reusable water bottle with you and ask the flight attendants to fill it up often. Or, head to the back of the plane and request a refill. It’s worth it.
3. But don’t drink alcohol
It might be tempting to throw back a few, especially on a long-haul flight, but you’ll pay for it later. Alcohol (and caffeine for the matter) are diuretics and will make you get dehydrated faster. Skip it on the flight and enjoy a little at your destination instead.
4. Avoid junk food and sugary items
In higher altitudes, it’s harder for your body to digest foods that are high in fat and sodium and can make you feel sick to your stomach. Try to eat as clean as possible and avoid the salty and sweet stuff. You want to help your body feel as refreshed as possible by the time you land.
5. Opt for the vegetarian in-flight meal
The high cabin pressure and dry air make our sense of taste duller. So, the airlines pack their in-flight meals full of salt. While it’s ideal to bring your own healthy snacks, the vegetarian menu option on board tends to have less salt, according to AARP.
6. Eat yogurt
If you can only handle carrying one snack, purchase a yogurt. Why? It’s packed with probiotic bacteria, which helps with your digestive and immune systems. Just be sure to stick to the basics like Greek yogurt or kefir. Ones with a lot of sugar don’t have the same effect.
7. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
Again, that lack of humidity means your skin will be drier. To combat this, pack a small face moisturizer, lip balm, and eye cream to apply every few hours. Try a face mask if you dare! A little makeshift spa will you tight quarters feel a little more luxurious.
8. Leave the makeup in the checked luggage
Unless you’re an A-list celebrity, no one expects you to walk off the plane looking red-carpet-ready. Leave the makeup in your luggage and use the time on the flight to give your skin a break. This will help prevent skin problems like breakouts.
9. Shower before your flight
This is especially important for long-hauls. No matter how hard you try, when you step off the plane after sitting for hours, you’re going to feel greasy and gross. By showering right before you leave, you can help grossness stay at bay for longer. Also, it’s a great way to relax before the flight and can help make you a bit sleepy.
10. Think in two-hour increments
Trying to figure out how you’re going to fill 6, 8, 10, 14 hours of flying time can be overwhelming. Instead, break it down into bite-size chunks and figure out what you want to do for the next couple of hours and don’t look at the clock until you finish the task. This was life-saving for me on a trip to Australia.
TIMA Contributor Jordi Lippe-McGraw is the owner and author of Well Traveler, a blog dedicated to navigating life through beautiful and practical stories from around the world, inspiring people to embrace their individual journeys and learn simple steps towards creating a happy and healthy life.