Whether you’re planning a visit with loved ones, a business trip or another adventure, thinking ahead with a holistic approach can make your flight more enjoyable and get you to your destination feeling your best.
There’s no doubt flying can take a toll on your body, especially with frequent or long-distance travel. Throughout my years of flying, I’ve developed a strategy for healthy air travel that helps me enjoy being on the plane, lower the effects of jetlag and restore balance to my body. Add some of these ideas to your upcoming travel plans if you’d like to arrive feeling more relaxed, refreshed and healthy.
1. Understand how travel affects your body
When you fly, your vata can naturally be aggravated, causing gas and bloating. Traveling also naturally dehydrates the body. Consuming nurturing foods is one of your best allies in preventing jetlag, balancing your vata and transforming you into a pro traveler.
Not familiar with vata? Vata is one of the three doshas, a foundational concept in Ayurveda that can help you understand yourself better. Doshas are essentially energetic forces found within everyone and everything, but in different ratios. When your doshas become aggravated or imbalanced, they can disrupt your body in many ways. The good news: Ayurveda offers many natural remedies to restore balance, heal and even prevent health issues.
2. Nourish and hydrate your body with healthy air travel in mind
- Eat a healthy meal with greens and low-sodium foods before boarding so you are not at the mercy of high-sodium airline foods.
- Drink plenty of water before and during the flight to stay hydrated. Dehydration increases jet Take tea bags of your favorite herbal caffeine-free tea. Peppermint and ginger are great choices to sooth your stomach, and chamomile will help you to relax and sleep on overnight flights. Bring an empty water bottle that you can refill and keep with you, too.
- Consume fruits high in vitamin C like oranges and lemon to give your immune system a boost prior to flying. Drinking water with lemon is a great choice.
- Consider supplements like the I Travel Well liquid extract from Banyan Botanicals. I add it to water, and I love that it helps calm the mind and energize the body.
- Pack healthy foods. Nuts are my go-to food when I fly. I roast raw nuts at home with lots of different herbs, vata pacifying spices and a touch of pink salt so they are full of flavor. Healthy snacks like nuts and fresh fruit can also be great for curbing hunger during meetings or excursions, until you’re able to grab a healthy meal.
- Avoid alcohol and coffee. It’s not only going to increase your jetlag upon arrival, but the sugar in certain drinks can also agitate you and prevent sleep.
3. Dress comfortably
I am one not to compromise style, especially if traveling for business or arriving at a stylish destination. At the same time, I’ve learned that there is no point in looking good at boarding and a complete wreck at my destination.
- Wear clothing made with soft stretchy fabrics and comfy tops. The last thing you want is to have your belly compressed by skinny jeans and tight buttons during a flight. Cashmere, cotton tops and leggings are great options.
- Bring layers. Airplanes tend to be cold, so I always have a few layers in my carry-on and an extra pair of comfy socks.
- If you wear high heels, leave them for when you land. A good pair of sneakers is my best friend walking through terminals and the easiest fit after a long flight.
- Stow jewelry if you can. Fingers and wrists get swollen during flights. When possible, I keep my rings, bracelet and watch inside my carry-on or purse. It’s not only more comfortable to sleep, but I won’t have to use soap to squeeze the rings off of my fingers.
4. Tune into your personal care
Your skin can be affected by the airplane’s dry air and also LED lights. Most of the time, I wash my face with mild soap and hydrate my face and eye areas more. There is a good selection of balms and face oils that work wonders.
- If you wear makeup when you fly, apply a serum prior to boarding and add a thick layer of moisturizer under your makeup. Before arrival, you could even use wipes to freshen up your face and apply a quick coat of makeup.
- Protect your skin from LED lights and sunlight. Most plane windows are not tinted and will cause skin damage. The LED lights have the same effect as sunlight, so apply your SPF as your part of your normal beauty routine.
- Flight attendants swear by face mist. I took their advice and on long flights I carry a small bottle of rose water or jasmin. I not only love the smell, but also keeps my face hydrated.
- Hands and cuticles also need care. Carry a travel-size hand cream and apply as often as possible.
5. Relax and get your Zs
While there are plenty ways to pass the time on a flight, air travel can offer you can that perfect opportunity to do what can be challenging elsewhere: simply relax. Try these ideas to get as much R&R or Zs as possible.
- Try to avoid blue light. I personally prefer reading over watching movies or working on any electronic device. The blue light will affect your levels of sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Reading can also help you fall asleep. If you do watch a movie or work on your computer, listen to calm music after—it will help you to relax.
- Mediate! Even if you are not familiar with this practice, there are plenty of apps with guided meditations that are super helpful at all times. I use the Insight Timer app during flights. It helps me to stay relaxed but also prevents me from listening to the loud engine noise.
- Follow a bedtime routine. If you’re taking an overnight flight, brush your teeth, wash your face and follow as many other bedtime rituals as possible. Bring an eye mask as well. Sunlight is a major part of our internal (circadian) clock, so I find that a soft eye mask helps my body adjust to a new time zone.
- Apply lavender, Jatamansi and nutmeg oils on the crown of the head and temples. These essential oils can promote better sleep. You can apply them to pillows and bedding as well. Look for a USDA organic source, such as Floracopeia.
6. Make adjustments upon arrival
There are few things I like to do at my new destination to give me a fresh start, and they help me recover from jetlag.
- Continue drinking water and eating nourishing meals. Green juices are another favorite for healthy
- Eat smaller portions more often during the first few days if changing time zones. I find this helps me adjust to the local meal times.
- Take a nice shower using favorite lotions and potions. This practice makes me feel grounded and like I’m at home.
- Do self-massage (abhyanga) upon arrival, which nourishes your tissues and is very grounding for the nervous system. Choose an oil appropriate for your constitution:
- Vata: a warm, grounding oil like untoasted sesame or almond
- Pitta: a cool, hydrating oil like coconut
- Kapha: a light, warming oil like almond or sesame
- Schedule extra time for rest after a long day of adventure, meetings or running around, or even in between activities.
Next time you fly, experiment with some of my tips and see what works best for your own body.
Here’s to healthy, comfy and safe travels!