Eat, Drink, Walk, Fly: Feeling Good During Air Travel
If you’ve ever flown on an airplane, you’ve probably had the same experience that I’ve had: an extended period of airport fast food, in-flight junk food and cramped economy section seating can leave you feeling less than ideal upon reaching your destination. There’s no need to get graphic, but what I’m talking about is how, after a day’s worth of flying, you wind up feeling like a human version of puffed wheat. Your stomach is taught and distended and somehow your feet and ankles have managed to swell to twice their normal size.
It’s this one aspect of flying that made me want to avoid it at all costs, that is until I realized it was my own doing. For every trip that I went on, I used the excitement as an excuse to indulge in the array of junk food, fast food and alcoholic beverages every airport has to offer. As I learned, this is a big mistake but one that is easily corrected. With some proper food choices, adequate hydration and low-level exercise, a person can actually feel pretty good, both during-and-after a grueling day of flying. Here’s how:
1. Food Choices: skip the burgers, fries, apple fritters and caramel mochas in the airport lounge. Instead, agree to the following: your “food vacation” will only begin once you arrive at your destination. Agreeing to this, choose from the various offerings of nuts, fruit (dried or fresh), salads, and sandwiches (healthy ones! not salami on a bagel) available around the airport. Pairing a few of these items will provide more than enough nutrition for all the sitting to be done, plus they offer enough fibre to keep the digestion process moving along. When making these choices, check the labels and grab the items that are low(er) in sodium. This will help prevent the puffiness associated with water retention and decreased circulation.
2. Avoid Alcohol: booze is tasty, refreshing and takes the edge off of travelling, however, alcohol irritates the digestive tract along with the liver. It’s also dehydrating, which only promotes puffy feet and ankles.
3. Drink Water: this might seem obvious, but because airplanes are excruciatingly dry environments, it’s easy to become dehydrated. Dehydration messes up the digestive process and promotes the dreaded swollen ankles and feet. I’ve tested this out myself and over the course of a day’s worth of flying, drinking three litres of water had no noticeable effect on how often I needed to use the washroom.
4. Exercise: physical movement goes a long way in promoting digestion, helping regulate fluid build-up and circulating the blood that tends to pool in extremities. Instead of just sitting at the gate, use the waiting period before a flight to walk around the airport. To make this more enjoyable and less of chore, pre-plan to use this time period for productive purposes. For example, don’t buy your books and magazines before your trip. Buy them while you’re waiting for your flight. If you know that your vacation will involve alcohol consumption, make a point of walking around the entire airport liquor store, hunting for new types of spirits and the concoctions you could make. If you’d like to avoid spending unnecessary money, try exploring the airport for the purpose of learning the layout and services. Becoming an “airport expert” may just help you if you’re running late in the future. Lastly, because you’re moving around the airport for the sake of health, take the stairs and the long hallways instead of the escalators and conveyor belts.
While these suggestions might seem to take the fun out of flying, they can make a big difference in how you’ll feel when you arrive at your destination. For me, feeling fresh and ready-to-go when I finally get to, say, Puerto Vallarta, is far more important than supping and sipping on junk food and beer.
Do you have any tips or tricks that improve your air travel experience?