Long flights are tough on the body and the mind, especially if you're traveling in Economy class, and even more so if you're traveling with young children. Most people are aware that airplanes are a great place to catch any number of flus, colds and other ailments. Cramped quarters, recycled air, small bathrooms used by a multitude of people... it all adds up to germs, germs, and more germs.
There are ways you can reduce your chances of feeling sick on board, and of catching colds and flus as well. Here are my top 5 tips for feeling better and staying healthier on board.
1. Use a hand sanitizer
This simple step has definitely made a difference for my family. Since I started using antibacterial hand-wipes and hand-sanitizing gel on my own hands and my kids' hands during flights and at the airport, we are not getting sick as frequently after our long-haul flights. I use it before any meal, and of course after every bathroom visit. I also use the wipes on the tray-table. Tip! Gels and sprays do count as liquids and will have to fit in your ziploc bag for liquids. Wet-wipes do not count as liquids, which makes them a good option on flights.
2. Drink plenty of fluids on board
Being on a plane dehydrates you. Drink water and juice to feel better and avoid some of the fatigue and headaches otherwise. Also make sure your children are getting enough to drink. I know some people enjoy having wine, beer or a drink on board, but I have to say that for myself, I find that those things just do not taste as good in the air as they do once I reach my destination!
3. Move around
Sitting still in a cramped airplane seat for hours and hours is very hard on the body. Get up and move around occasionally (traveling with kids is actually a plus, since they usually won't let you stay seated for an entire flight!), and do the exercises that are often suggested in the in-flight magazine.
4. Relax (if you can!)
It's very easy to tense up various muscles and parts of your body when you're seated on a plane for a long time. I used to get stomach aches and neck aches all the time when traveling by plane, until I figured out that I was actually causing these problems myself by being so darn tense. Now, I make a conscious effort to make sure my shoulders, neck and abdominal muscles are as relaxed as possible during the flight. Just pay attention to this every now and then during your flight: I've found it makes a world of difference. And yes, try to do this even if you're traveling with kids!
5. Wear comfortable clothes
Many people (me included) tend to feel tense and bloated on long flights. I think this has to do with the altitude, stress, and the less-than-ideal seating most of us get in Economy class. Wearing tight-fitting pants is not a good thing under these circumstances. Also, feet tend to swell on flights, so wear comfortable socks and shoes that won't pinch even if your feet get slightly bigger. If you and your kids dress comfortably for a flight, you will definitely feel better during your trip.