By Chloe Quin
There are a million cures for jetlag out there. But there’s no way around it: suffering poor, disrupted sleep and sleep deprivation, along with different time zones, is going to wreck most people’s energy. So how can you stay fresh, alert and healthy while travelling? Here are some tips to get you through the long-haul.
The first tip is probably the best – getting to lie down in space an luxury so you can get some quality sleep will have the biggest impact. But it’s out of most people’s budgets, so instead consider ways to get more space without having to open your wallet. Knowing the aeroplane layout and choosing exit seats is one option, but everyone wants them. Knowing how to get an upgrade also helps: there are tonnes of “insider tips” online, from dressing smartly to travelling solo. Be a frequent flyer, travel at busy times (so Economy is overbooked), be nice when you check in.
DVT/Deep Vein Thrombosis is obviously the big danger, but even if you avoid that it’s not great for your body to be stuck slumped in a fixed position for 10 hours or more. Try to stand up and stretch your legs at least every couple of hours. Change your sitting position regularly, and avoid crossing your legs. If you have no problems with ulcers, it may be worth taking a baby aspirin the night before and day of your flight.
As tempting as it is to try and knock yourself out with the free alcohol on offer, it’s one of the worst things you can do to yourself in flight. Instead keep hydrated with water and diluted fruit juice. It’s probably worth avoiding caffeine too – aeroplane coffee is usually pretty ordinary – and get a decent fix from a proper barista once you land. Coffee is a diuretic and you probably want to minimise bathroom visits.
People’s responses vary when it comes to sleep remedies and some can even have a stimulant effect. So do a dry-run at home. Virgin recommends against sleeping pills as they can make you even groggier when you arrive.
A tip used by Hollywood A-listers, rubbing Vaseline inside your nostrils helps prevent them drying out, as aircraft typically have very low humidity (around 10%). You can also mix Vaseline with a drop of essential oil such as lavender or tea tree, which are antibacterial and also smell nice. Alternatively you can use a nasal spray, but you’ll want to do so regularly.
Antibacterial wipes and handwash are a must after using aeroplane bathrooms which are absolutely crawling with germs. According to microbiologists, E. coli has been found in huge concentrations on every aeroplane bathroom on every surface, including the taps, the door, and the sink. They recommend you wash your hands and then use a gel sanitiser of antibacterial wipe. You can also use these to wipe down your tray before meals.
Research suggests that flying significantly increases your changes of getting a cold virus. Using an antibacterial mouthwash may help. You can make your own with a couple of drops of tea tree in water. Use your own water, never the water in the aeroplane bathroom taps.
Keeping your blood sugar levels stable will help, and your teeth will thank you for not falling asleep after having a sugary feast. Sugar and lack of sleep are both considered to depress the immune system.
Mediocre quality in-flight cuisine lacks nutrition, particularly vitamin C as it gets cooked out of food long before it gets to you. To keep your nutrition up, bring a multivitamin or even just chewable or effervescent vitamin C tablets. High doses of vitamin C may reduce the severity or duration of cold symptoms if you do get struck down.
Your skin may not look its best after a long-haul flight, but you can help protect it against the dry air with a good moisturiser. In fact the issue of dry skin is so well recognised that flight attendants can claim re-hydrating moisturiser as a tax-deductible. You can always buy a travel-sized tube of moisturising lotion at the airport pharmacy.
What are your top tips for making flying more bearable? Have you found the ultimate comfort booster or sure-fire strategy to reduce jet lag?
Chloe Quin is wellness expert with online health insurance provider Health.com.au, whose mission is to help Australians access affordable healthcare that’s easy to understand. Also a qualified yoga instructor, Chloe is passionate about empowering women to boost their health and fitness in fun, family-friendly ways.
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