Healthy Flying

He was sitting there next to his wheeled carry-on suitcase, trying to balance a MacDonald's burger in a box, a red envelope filled with fries, a Starbuck's coffee and his cell phone, as his briefcase rested at his feet. It's tough at the airport. I don't fly very often, but yesterday I flew to Connecticut to help celebrate my mom's 80th birthday.  I did a little observing...

Airport travel is not easy for the health conscious. As I walked down the long hallway to the furthest possible gate the airline could have chosen for my plane, I could feel the nervous energy as people checked their watches and raced to different gates. Some people look exhausted as if they had spent the night on a previous flight, or stayed up half the night in anticipation of their travels the coming day. The last thing they are probably thinking about is making healthy choices!

Along with anxiety and fatigue, one thing is certainly a challenge: the food.  Not ever known for high quality dining, airports are filled with fast food stops and little stores offering a huge variety of candy, chips, crackers and soda.  And the prices.  Even if you wanted to make healthier choices, the price tags alone convince many that a Snickers bar is the way to go for a quick meal. That's really unfortunate. Remember, eating well makes a difference on how you feel mentally and physically.

Healthy Tips for the Airport:

  • Bring your own snacks. I brought along little snack baggies filled with small servings of roasted almonds and dried cherries.
  • Avoid greasy foods, and opt for less fatty selections. Heavy foods can be uncomfortable as they try to digest while you're in the air.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes or sneakers.
  • Walk if you have time. I had enough time before my flight, so I avoided the tram and the moving sidewalk and chose to put my own foot in front of the other to get more exercise. On longer flights, be sure to get up and walk around to ensure good circulation.
  • Buy a bottle of water as soon as you can. Airplane travel is dehydrating, so be sure to hydrate often. They won't let you bring your own through the security gate.
  • Buy fresh fruit.  I was thrilled to see apples, oranges and bananas available at the counter where I purchased my water.
  • Choose your coffee wisely. Those fancy coffee drinks can have more calories than a Whopper. Stick to plain coffee or order drinks with non-fat or soy milk and be sure to say, "no whip!" You can lighten up many of the drinks by choosing sugar-free syrups. I enjoyed a skinny-skinny vanilla latte---non-fat and sugar free.  It was delicious.
  • Stretch. I went through my neck stretches as I sat waiting for the plane.  Muscles like to tighten up on those long flights...stay loose.
  • Use anti-bacterial hand gels often.  Lots of people on that plane means lots of airborne germs. My sister had antibacterial wipes that she used to clean off all surfaces around her once she was on board.
  • Healthy drinks in flight. Try fruit juice or tomato juice to add a little nutrition to your trip.  I enjoyed tomato juice, while my sister ordered cranberry juice and seltzer water.
  • Relax.  Release your tension and enjoy the flight!

It was a good flight and I arrived feeling great...a wonderful way to start off a family reunion and birthday celebration.

What are some of YOUR hints to air travel health?