Whether you love to travel or not, the most efficient way to get from here to way over there is via flight. Not on the wings of an eagle, rather via a small seat in a crowded plane that is filled with airborne germs.
Until scientists have figured out how to ‘beam us up, Scottie,’ here follows a list of useful hints that MAY SAVE YOUR LIFE – or – at the very least make your flight more comfortable.
PESKY GERMS ~ Fifty percent of the air on most airplanes is re-circulated, including airborne germs. AND to make matters worse, humidity on said plane is approximately 10 percent or lower (in other words, the air is very, very dry), which makes it that much the easier for viruses and bacteria to attach themselves to the mucous membranes lining our noses and mouths (YUK!).
THE PESKY-GERM ANTIDOTE ~ The all-powerful Echinacea/vitamin C combo. Start taking 1/2 of a drop of Echinacea with two grams of vitamin C three days before your flight. And during your flight, and one day post flight. Drink 16 ounces of water before your flight and at least 12 ounces during your flight. AND wash your hands often. (Hand wipes in your bag or backpack are always a good idea!)
DEADLY BLOOD CLOTS ~ Have you heard of deep-vein thrombosis? When one sits for long hours, particularly in those tight seats, blood tends to “pool” in one’s legs. These blood pools could potentially lead to a blood clot, and IF that blood clot travels to your lungs or any other important organ, it could be DEADLY!
THE DEADLY BLOOD CLOT ANTIDOTE ~ Take an aspirin the day before a long flight, the day of and then three days afterwards. Aspirin thins blood, which in turn, lessens your chance of clotting.
Take periodic walks during your flight. (Ask for an aisle seat, so you don’t have to climb over your neighbor every half an hour.) Rock your heels while at your seat, lifting them and rocking them back and forth to your toes. And do not sit with your legs crossed (on a plane or off). Prop your feet up on your backpack or bag.
THE AGONY OF BACK and NECK PAIN~ Again, sitting for long periods of time can lead to back and neck pain. And if you are prone to dose off, which I am, and your head is tilting and your neck is twisting, you are doing yourself a grave disservice. Stiff neck syndrome!
THE BACK & NECK PAIN ANTIDOTE ~ Easy enough to take care of. Simply place a rolled blanket behind your lower back, and a U-shaped neck pillow behind your neck! AND, more exercises (who thought you could get in your daily exercise on the plane): 1) Head Circles – tilt your head gently (chin down), and move it in a circular motion – to the right, then back, then to the left – and front again. 2) Shoulder Shrugs – Shrug your shoulders in a circular motion, up, down, back and forth.
THE I’M GOING TO FAINT FROM THIRST and HUNGER CHALLENGE ~ Airline food isn’t what it used to be (and even then, we had plenty of complaints). You are now forced to bring your own or buy a rather unhealthy sandwich for a gazillion dollars. Some flights offer small bottles of water; some little tiny glasses of water. You are at danger of being dehydrated, experiencing low-blood sugar, and just plain crabbiness.
THE THIRST and HUNGER ANTIDOTE ~ Bring an empty water container to the airport. As we know, no liquids until we get through the ‘security’ process. So, bring an empty water container and stop in at any of the multitude of unhealthy restaurants and simply ask them to fill it with good old tap water. They will and it’s free. Once on the plane, should you need a refill, ask the flight attendant, and he/she will refill from their tap. Before it has a chance to sit in the germ field for too long. Most definitely bring healthy snacks. Even for a short flight, should you be delayed on the tarmac!
Oh and one more thing. Skip the alcohol and caffeinated drinks during the flight. The air in the plane is dry enough! Alcohol and caffeine dehydrate and dry out the skin. No point in aging while flying!
THE ANXIETY ATTACK ~ Alas, some of us are prone to travel jitters. The whole idea of this big tin can, going 35,000 feet up, traveling at 500 miles per hour, relinquishing all control, does put some of us on edge. And even If you weren’t anxious before, you might be now that you’ve read about the health and aging risks associated with flying.
THE ANXIETY ATTACK ANTIDOTE ~ Dunk your bag! Simply pack three chamomile tea bags in your carry-on. Ask for hot water instead of coke, diet coke, or whatever. Chamomile calms, soothes and relaxes.
Load your iPod with soothing music, meditation, relaxation music and lectures. Ahhhhh … Feel the ‘let go.’ Yummy.
THE (jet) LAGGING CHALLENGE ~ If you are like me, I pretty much get on the new time zone when it’s time to return home. I wake up at 3 a.m., as if it were 6 a.m. and am falling asleep at 7 p.m. I’m just a mess, what can I say. Lagging and dragging my way through vacation.
THE LAGGING JET ANTIDOTE ~ Try taking melatonin (after your arrival; one to three mg. before your new bedtime), a natural supplement, that effectively can reset your biological clock. Continue taking each night for the next two days if you are still having difficulty adjusting. Do NOT take sleeping pills. Interestingly, they do not help to restore your natural sleep cycle. They may even slow it down.
NOTE: Before taking any supplement, aspirin, pill of any kind, do check with your physician.