every time i think about flying overseas, which in a few days i’m very happily going to do, i think about my friends who drink on the plane. i think about this because i’m always kind of nervous about flying - both conceptually and literally when it comes to long hours so confined. drinking is always really tempting and a ton of people i know do it to pass the boredom and the fatigue. and i’m the first to admit that when i fly long distances i take a pill to sleep because i’m not one of those supremely gifted people who can snore away soundly on public transportation.
but, flying in itself is a little toxic. there’s the frisk-up in security, the recycled air, the inevitable germ swap with seatmates (pass my drink…oooh you’re sick…), the bone dry atmosphere that leaves faces and hands flaking, the pre-packaged food, the cramped space, the white noise… ugh. and while totally i understand the appeal of a stiff drink to get through the stress, i think there are better ways to beat the tension AND take care of my body, which is basically under assault on a long flight.
here are my tricks for feeling like a close to normal person when i roll into baggage claim. try one or more or all of the following, and let me know how it goes!
1. skip the booze. planes are dehydrating enough. you don’t need a double hangover.
2. drink tons of water. set a goal of downing at least one of those little 8 oz bottles per hour. i take them like shots. yes you have to get up a lot to pee, but that helps beat the stiffness later. or i bring my kleen canteen and fill it up in the water fountain in departures
3. get up! walk around, stretch, hover awkwardly in the galley with the flight crew. i once met a cute boy doing this! but social opportunities aside, moving around at least once every hour that you’re awake, for at least 5-10 minutes each time, makes the clock go faster and really saves your back the next day.
4. bring lotion. my hands and face get soooo dry. a little lotion feels like a spa treatment half way through.
6. bring a toothbrush! and a little toothpaste. after you eat, cleaning your palate with a good brush kisses memories of a less-than-4-star plane meal goodbye
7. bring your own food. i always bring snacks - fruit, crackers, cheese, sandwiches. this way i get to eat what i want and eat something healthy that isn’t totally soaked in salt and preservatives. avoiding the packaged-food salt-bombs we’re fed on planes also wards off post-flight bloat
8. bring a sleep-aid. if you’re like me and sleep just isn’t happening in that lawn chair-esque seat, bring help. melatonin is sold over the counter. or ask your doc in advance to write you for a few ambiens or another prescription sleep aid. actually sleeping on a long flight (vs sort of dozing here and there) can be life saving
9. cover up. eye-mask, scarf, and ipod. i pretty much look like a mummy on flights and i don’t care what people think. i have to block everything out. i wrap a big scarf or hoodie around my head, don a comfy eye-mask, and make sure my ipod is stocked with calming music. this knocks the stress level down immensely
10. forget the purel. i think hand sanitizer is pointless. we doctors coat ourselves with it in the hospital, but in less controlled environments there is no way that every time you touch something new you use it. just wash your hands whenever you leave the bathroom, and chillax. that last bit probably will do you more good than anything else!