Travel Ideas & Tips » 6 Handy Long-Haul Health Hacks by Susanna Cloete-Jones Get in touch

From boredom to deep vein thrombosis and everything in between.

Let’s talk a little long-haul health.

Why do you want to hear my opinion?

I was born into a flying family and learnt to fly before I could say my ABC’s. (Which was, of course, the phonetic alphabet.)

Early days in the Kalahari, Botswana

Forty years later I have unlimited Airmiles and infinite motivation to use them. Both are courtesy of my darling baby brother who has provided the miles through his job as an airline pilot and the incentive via his adorable daughter who lives with him in Asia. Then there are my parents who reside another two long haul flights away in Africa. So, it isn’t unusual for me to regularly take 6 long haul flights in 10 days. And, to make things a little more interesting I also have M.E.

Read on for everything I know about arriving, fit for human consumption, on the other side.

1. Don’t drink water* {and start early}.

No, I haven’t lost my mind. Dehydration will lead to headaches, stomach problems, cramps, and fatigue under any circumstances, but simply drinking a ton of water might also lead to dilution of blood sodium and other complications… especially if you are matching your water intake with diuretics like coffee, alcohol, and chocolate. One of the best tricks of my flying trade is to replace your water with a recommended amount of healthy electrolytes starting the day before you fly… and if you are traveling continuously keep the electrolytes coming. How do I take my electrolytes on the airplane? I buy them in pill form (Enhanced Electrolytes by Total Hydration is my go to) and then… I top up with the recommended amount of mineral water.

2. Deep vein thrombosis

That phrase! I’ve always thought it should be the name of a terribly indulgent chocolate cake instead. The nasty reality of it becomes a possibility when flights are longer than four hours. While the risk is sometimes overstated it certainly isn’t something anyone wants to dally with. And here’s the thing. Actually: Here are TWO things.

1: The prevention of DVT will make you feel better in general when you fly.

2: The days of truly horrendous compression stockings are long gone.

This is what you do… set yourself a little schedule for walking up and down the plane and stretching your calves a little (maybe at the end of every movie you watch?), wear loose, comfortable clothes, don’t drink alcohol, coffee, tea, or water* and wear fun compression socks (said darling baby brother was given a Vim & Vigr gift voucher for his last birthday). BONUS TIP: After your holiday you can wear your funky socks as a training aid to supercharge your workouts.

3. Be well

What is the definition of a jacket?

It is something you wear when your mother is cold.

You also can’t get a cold from the cold and your risk of catching a cold in an airplane is actually not increased between 20 and 113% (depending on which day of the week you read the latest study) because more germs get trapped in the cabin with you… the reason you might arrive sick is mostly due to extremely low cabin humidity at high elevations.

What you want to do to combat this is to give your natural defense system the and frontline of mucus in your nose and throat a helping hand. I grew up with Vicks as a cure all and still love flying with a little Vicks in my nose… but you can also simply use some Vaseline. Hot drinks (without caffeine), misting your face regularly, nasal mists and breathing through a hot face cloth will all help.

You can also wipe everything down with a sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol as soon as you sit down. After you eat you can use a germ-killing mouthwash. I also take a boost of Vit C for a couple of days before, during and for a couple of days after I travel.

4. Banishing Boredom

Write some postcards (printed from the photos of your last holiday)

Listen to your podcasts

Catch up on books

Do something arty… buy an adult coloring book and (Prismacolor pencils)

Go through your email lists and finally unsubscribe from them all.

Write a long overdue letter by hand (you can decide if it needs to be sent later)

Use a sheet mask

Start a gratitude journal

5. App Happy

Apps that might assist you in fighting jet lag:

Jet Lag Rooster

Entrain

6. Healthy Skepticism & Common Sense

Don’t believe the people. Including me! Listen to your own body. From needing one day for every one hour you are out of sync to jet lag being more prevalent in one direction… I have experienced it all. And none of it. Within the same month of travel. Anticipate possible hurdles and treat yourself with as much kindness as possible but don’t think possible problems into existence.

Happy, healthy travelling!

Images via Florian SchneiderFancy CraveMargo BrodowiczAndrea Vincenzo AbbondanzaEric Karim CornelisGary Lopater

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