Flying is a necessary evil for many of us. I know that for myself, it's the little things that make a big difference in how my whole flying experience turns out. With flu season upon us, staying both healthy and comfortable can be tough. And now that there are so many additional fees for things that used to be free, your flight could be pretty uncomfortable if you're not prepared. Here are a few tips to ensure that you're as comfortable and healthy as possible at 30,000 feet.
The first thing I do when I get onto a plane is wipe down the seat, tray table and armrests. Don't hesitate to sanitize your corner of the plane! Airplanes are cleaned way less often than most people think, and yours probably wasn't cleaned from the last few trips it made. This makes it a prime spot to catch one of the many bugs going around this time of year. Grab a sanitizing wipe and get to work.
The atmosphere in an airplane cabin is as dry as the desert, so staying hydrated will go a long way toward staying healthy. Drink lots of water throughout your flights so your lungs, skin and everything else can function properly. With that said, drinking airplane bathroom water is not a good idea. Bring bottled water to drink from and to use to brush your teeth. A test of water on 14 different flights discovered bacteria including salmonella, staphylococcus and even tiny insect eggs swimming in the water. If that's not enough to convince you, I don't know what will.
In addition to avoiding tap water, stay away from any foods that will cause gas or bloating, as the effects can actually be worse at higher altitudes. Enough said.
To be safe, always grab a snack to take on the plane. These will also come in handy If you get stuck on a runway or on a flight with no catering; you'll be happy to have something to munch on if you get hungry. If in-flight meals are offered, ask the flight attendants which one they prefer. Chances are, one is better than the other. These are the same meals the flight attendants are eating, so they know which one tastes best and is easiest on the stomach.
Nowadays, in-flight entertainment isn't always physically provided. Before you head to the airport, find out if your aircraft will have a built-in screen, or if you're going to have to use your personal device to access the entertainment. You don't want to get stuck reading that in-flight magazine over and over again because you didn't know to bring your own screen or pre-download the airline's app. Alternatively, bring a good book as back up!
Once you've settled in with your in-flight entertainment however, be aware that the threat of Deep Vein Thrombosis (or blood clots) is very real at higher altitudes. Do your best to avoid the risk by moving around as much as you can. It's not always convenient when you're in a window seat, but it's so important to keep your circulation in check, so politely apologize to your neighbor and get up for a stretch. If you're staying hydrated, getting up to go the washroom frequently will accomplish this, so drink up!
Next, your flight won't always offer complimentary blankets and cushions, and even if they do, they aren't always the cleanest. I like to bring a personalized comfort-pack with a few items to ensure I am as comfortable as possible, especially on a long haul flight. A good book, neck pillow, a blanket/large scarf, ear plugs, an eye mask, lip balm, toothbrush/paste, pain medication, lotion, etc. One of my favourite tricks is to fill up your empty water bottle (after you drink it all!) with hot water to work as an instant hot water bottle when the aircraft gets cold. Create your own pack however you like and have it ready for every flight.
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And one last tip. To avoid any creepy crawlies on a flight, like lice or bed bugs, consider using a head rest cover or full seat cover. These are even available for your luggage to avoid bringing any unwanted guests home with you. There are lots to choose from online and they are not too expensive.
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