Fly Smart: 5 Tips to Travel Healthy

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Whether you are a seasoned contractor with a resume full of experience in various cities or you fly only to get to your vacation destinations, these five tips are for you. Learn to travel healthy while on the plane to ensure you’ll be healthy at your destination.

Tips to Travel Healthy
1. Keep Moving

There is an actual medical condition that can be brought about during long flights. Also known as “economy-class syndrome”, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition that can develop the longer you are immobile. Blood clots form in the deep veins of your legs and can cause swelling and pain. According to Mayo Clinic, DVT can be very serious. Blood clots in your veins can break loose, travel through your bloodstream and lodge in your lungs, blocking blood flow (known as a pulmonary embolism).

How can you prevent DVT? The Centers for Disease Control suggests the following tips when traveling:

Move on Plane
  • Get up and walk around every 2 to 3 hours.
  • Exercise your legs while you’re sitting by: Raising and lowering your heels while keeping your toes on the floor; raising and lowering your toes while keeping your heels on the floor; and tightening and releasing your leg muscles
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes.
  • Also suggested is to maintain a healthy weight, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, and asking your doctor about wearing maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle.
Stay Hydrated
2 Stay Hydrated

Flying is a dehydrating experience. Did you know that when flying at 30,000 feet, for example, the humidity level in the plane could be as low as 10 to 20 percent? That’s desert-level dry. Dehydration can weaken your immune system and even disrupt your sleep cycle. Dr. Oz, a TV personality and director of Integrative Medicine Center at Columbia, suggests drinking eight ounces of water or herbal tea for every hour flying. Sure, that’ll make you have to visit the bathroom a lot, but it will force you to move around the airplane potentially preventing DVT. Plus, the herbal tea can calm the body, which is always good when stuck in a confined space with many other people. Be sure to avoid alcohol, since that dehydrates the body on a cellular level.

3 Clean Your Hands

Airplanes are notoriously germ-laden places. With the lack of humidity drying out your nasal passages, you’d be surprised how often you touch your nose. The CDC says people touch their eyes, mouth, and nose approximately 25 times per hour without being aware of it. Mucous membranes are the perfect moist and warm environments to host a variety of potential illnesses. Keep your hands away from your face and use hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol after touching any surface on an aircraft, as well as before you eat or drink and after using the bathroom.

Clean your hands
Disinfect your area
4 Disinfect Your Immediate Area

According to research, disease-causing bacteria can linger for up to a week on surfaces like seat pockets, rubber armrests, as well as nonporous surfaces like the tray table. One study presented by the American Society for Microbiology in 2014 found that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) lasted on material from the seat-back pocket for 168 hours while E. coli O157:H7 survived 96 hours on the armrest. Yuck! To protect yourself, use antibacterial wipes to disinfect your seating area, which includes the tray table, remote controls, monitors, arm rests, window shades, or anything else you may touch.

5 Fly Well Rested

Be sure to get enough sleep prior to your flight to keep up your body’s natural immunity. Your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases. Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as the common cold. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.

Travel Well Rested

So be sure to pack some wipes, hand sanitizer, and grab a bottle or two of water after getting through security. Using these tips should help you stay healthy for your trip and the days following.

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Author: Karen DiDonatoKaren, our content marketing strategist, has worked with HCI since 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in communications. In her free time she enjoys baking, gardening, running, and all things Peloton-related.