Keeping your health and sanity while sitting on a plane for hours impossible? Not if you formulate a plan of attack that works for you.
I think the benefits of keeping it healthy while flying far outweigh the extra thought & time you have to put into it. I’d much rather pay attention to my diet and stay somewhat fresh and energetic during and after my flight, than feeling extra knackered, dehydrated and worn-out for putting even more stress on my body by indulging in crappy foods to pass the time. I’ve been on a few long flights since embarking on my health-nut/raw/vegan journey and every time it gets easier. Here’s how I survived 24 hrs on a plane pretty effortlessly:
Pre-Flight Survival Strategies
One week prior
Start paying extra attention to your diet & lifestyle habits. If you’re gonna be sitting in a confined space for xx hours with a butt-load of other people, who’s health may or may not be high on their list of priorities, you best start kicking your immune system up a notch (or two!). I see plenty of people around me wear face masks on longer flights. If you adhere to the germ theory then this might seem like a viable solution to other peoples pesky germs, but more comfortable, enjoyable and logical to me would be to just make sure you are less susceptible to bacteria. How? Up the nutrients (fresh juices, green smoothies, raw veggies, salads), get enough sleep every night (no partying the night before please…), no alcohol/drugs or too much caffeine/refined sugars that week, and up your defenses by adding probiotics to your diet (raw sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir or capsules).
Go online and make sure you order meals that suits your needs. Perhaps you can even add a special request. With that being said, always expect the worst of in-flight meals and bring a back-up!
One – three days prior
Formulate your plan of attack. How long will you be flying? What times? What healthy snacks could you take and do you need to bring your own ‘just in case’ meal? What are some other things you rely on for health and can you bring them with you? Set on the ingredients for your survival pack, the ideal time to buy them (fruit: 1 day before, avocado: 2-3 days before, nuts, whenever you have the time, etc). Just don’t forget to realize that you can’t control everything (oh how I wish) and it’s good to be a bit flexible here and there. Don’t stress, remember?
Is yoga or a run the only thing that can keep you sane sometimes? See if you can sqeeze in a sesh before you take off.
No matter what time you take off, inject your bod with some top notch nutrition before sitting your butt down on that plane seat for God knows how long. Either consume before you leave your house, or take with you: some fresh juice (prepped the day before if you leave at the break of dawn), a green smoothie, a big assortment of fresh fruit, raw veggies, whatever works for you at the moment. I drank a juice, left at 9:30, drank another juice in the car/at the airport (and rinsed my ‘raw foodie’ sigg bottle afterwards and had my own water bottle on the plane), had a starbucks coffee with my mom at 11 (biggg mistake kids. Learn from my err) and then waited patiently for my raw vegetarian lunch on the plane!
Edited to add: yeahhh that raw veggie meal turned out to be a total bust. Chopped cucumber, tomato, 5 chickpeas and wilted lettuce is not a salad people! And fyi, I am not on a diet (the margarine that came with my sad looking bun was light…)! So yeah my lunch was a few bites chopped veg and a side of awkward (I wanted to put up a sign that said don’t worry people. I am not on a diet. I’m just misunderstood :p).
In-Flight Survival Strategies
Hydrate! Bring your own water bottle (empty when you go through baggage check) and keep drinking plenty for the entire duration of your flight. And ignore the stink eyes you’ll get for having to pee every 15 minutes. To spice things up a bit, drink herbal tea (bring your own!) and lemons to add lemon juice to your water (just ask for a knife or for them to cut it for you). Lemon juice does a super good job at keeping your body properly hydrated because of its electrolytes.
Stretch! Get up every waking hour or so and walk around for a bit and/or do stretches in your seat and at the bathroom; you’ll be amazed at what you can do in such a small space and the benefits! Some planes offer stretching exercises at their in-flight infotainment system but it’s really no rocket science. Just stretch and twist you limbs, your core, engage your muscles and release, whatever feels good! Bend every which (possible) way and hold for a few moments. Don’t feel self-conscious about it. Everyone knows what stretching is and every one know they should be doing it, too.
Listen to your body! Really guys. Do not check the time to decide when it’s time to eat, especially if you want to maintain your sanity during long ass flights with some time difference thrown in. Time is all relative. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re not hungry, don’t. If they hand out meals and you’re far from hungry, ask if you can eat it later or set it aside (if it’s covered). And make sure you have a stash for when you get hungry but there’s no meal or healthy snack to be handed out anytime soon.
Avoid: pasteurized juices (not much more than sugar by this time) coffee and alcohol(!), fizzy soft drinks (or any drink thats sugar loaded for that matter), roasted salted (pea)nuts (bring your own!), other weird packaged snack thingies they hand out (and to not make a martyr of yourself, simply decline the poptarts instead of having them call your name for the next hour before you can pawn them off to your boyfriend/mom/friend/complete stranger next to you who you’ve been fighting over the armrest with…)
Sterilize! Bring antibacterial cream or wipes for your hands to further minimize the risk of coming down with something after your flight. Bacteria on your hands are the biggest offenders (wanna count how many times your touch your face per flight?)
Suit up! It’s all about comfort people. Leave Vogue’s travel-in-style guide to the fashion victims and savor those itty-bitty skinny jeans, heels, and anything else that makes you look pretty for when you’ve reached your destination. Go for flowy, soft, loose fitting apparel and: layers! Seriously, the AC in planes suffers from borderline and goes from Alaska-cold to Bangkok-on-a-hot-day hot, and anything in between, so be prepared for all. A tanktop, warm long-sleeve and comfy sweater with harem pants is what I wore, and I paired it with some fashionable Nikes. Eat that, InStyle magazine!
To all my four-eyed friends: don’t even think of wearing your contacts. Not because glasses are hot or sexy (though, they are), but because your eyes will fall out of their sockets after tops two hours in from the zero oxygen and moisture in the air. Speaking of which..
Moisturize! Bring some aloe vera gel/coconut oil/black sesame oil/other favorite (natural!) moisturizer in your hand luggage. I brought my dry skin brush as well and simply dry brushed my face, splashed a little water, patted dry with a paper towel, and applied a teeny amount of coconut oil to my skin every now and again. Together with drinking plenty of water & lemon water this really helped stay hydrated inside & out.
Zzzzzz.. Bring earplugs, an eye mask and maybe some relaxing music on your itunes so you can sleep without too much outside stimulation. One of those awesome neck pillows is recommended too (I forgot mine but you could stick me anywhere and I’d still be able to sleep- as long as I have earplugs and an eye mask!). Ps: eye mask with a cool oneliner is mandatory.
3 apples, 3 bananas, baggy of nuts (cashews, pistachios & Brazil nuts), avocado, 2 lemons, organic & fair-trade dark chocolate, Pukka tea & Stevia to sweeten up my lemon water)
I felt like a rabbit. On a crash diet. Who’d lost her appetite.
My obligatory cool eye mask:
Too bad I couldn’t see the looks on people’s faces when they saw my mask…