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Travel smart: Flying

It's very easy to over-eat when travelling. Here are some tips on staying healthy when flying.

Travelling by plane often leaves you with some 'time to kill' at the airport after you have checked in and before your flight departs. Having a coffee and cake can very happily fill a little of this time, but are you really hungry?

Take things to do at the airport so that food doesn't become the only focus. A good book, magazine, crossword, sudoku or listening to music kills time. If you take fruit, sandwiches, cereal bars and water with you, you don't have to rely on the choices at the airport.

Phone the airline or search online before you go to find out what meals or snacks will be served. Most airlines have vegetarian, vegan and low-fat options which they can organise for you if you notify them before travel.

With advanced warning, most airlines are likely to be able to accommodate requests for other dietary needs, eg gluten-free, lactose-free. Taking healthy snacks onboard can be really helpful. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are all fine to take onboard.

If you are travelling internationally, however, be aware that because these food items can potentially carry harmful pests they will not allow you to have them with you once you leave the aircraft. So leave any uneaten snacks on the plane.

Spending hours with your knees tucked up to your tray table combined with crossing time zones can play havoc with your body.

Adjust your watch to the time at your destination as soon as you set foot on the plane and when it comes to eating and drinking, keep up a regular pattern as far as you can.

When you arrive at your destination, try to wake and sleep at the times dictated by your new environment. This will help you to mentally and physically adjust to your new time zone more quickly than if you try to keep with your home time zone.

The air circulating in a plane is not humidified and can contribute to dehydration. Aim to drink water regularly during the flight.

With new regulations, on many flights it is not permitted to carry fluid over 100mls onboard. This includes water. In this case, it is especially important to request water regularly from flight attendants. 1-2 glasses/hour is a good start. Limiting alcohol and caffeinated drinks is also a wise measure.

Keeping mobile during plane travel is extremely important to help keep the blood flowing. While you are sitting, wiggle your toes, circle your ankles, raise and lower your knees. Take a short walk around the plane a least every hour if possible.

Date modified: 3 April 2017
First published: Jul 2007


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