Last year about this time, my family was preparing for a long trip to Hawaii. While my husband, three kids, and I were very excited to go, we knew that the long travel time and extended plane trip could take it’s toll. I’m happy to report that everyone weathered the 15+ hour travel days and long flights quite well. Here are just a few of the things we did to keep everyone happy and healthy during our trek.
Hydrate. Air travel is like being stranded in a desert, you will get dehydrated. Drink plenty of water before you start your journey. Also pack an empty water bottle. Once you get through security you can fill it up to take on the plane. Most airports now have water bottle filling stations. In a pinch, you can use an old-fashioned drinking fountain. Drink water whenever you can and limit your intake of soda, coffee, and other dehydrating beverages.
Clean and Fresh. For your comfort and for consideration of your fellow passengers, take a few minutes to freshen up between flights. Pack your travel-sized toothpaste and toothbrush to brighten your breath and smile.
You can also pack a washcloth in a baggie with a dollop of face soap. Wash your face, then give the rest of your body a quick wipe and you’ll feel as good as new (also great for teenagers trying to keep acne under control). Add a swipe of deodorant or a roll-on of your favorite oil blend, just be mindful and limit your fragrances to very subtle ones. Some of your fellow travelers might be sensitive.
Movement. It can be difficult to sit in confined quarters for extended periods of time, the lack of leg room on the plane is no joke! It can also be detrimental to your health. Blood clots are a concern if you are on a long flight (8 hours or more). Be sure to change your position, move your legs and feet, and if possible, get up and walk around every couple of hours. While you are waiting at the airport be sure to take a couple of laps around the terminal instead of plopping down into a seat. Get those steps counted!
Hip flexors can also tighten up with long periods of sitting, so create some space. A standing quad stretch (standing ardha bhekasana) with a gentle reach of the tail toward the floor will feel great. It also takes very little space, so you can do it waiting for the restroom, on the plane, or in the terminal while you are waiting to board. If you have a little more room, a low lunge with the knee down or on a chair is an option.
Mindful Fuel. You’re tired, hungry, and the intoxicating smell of cinnamon rolls is luring you into a hypnotic trance. They might smell good, but I promise you, your body will not feel good if you surrender to all of that fat and refined sugar. Set yourself up for healthy eating by packing good quality snacks. Nuts, dried fruit, granola, and other healthy snack foods are easy to pack. You might be able to bring along an apple or carrots, just be sure to check with the security guidelines and be prepared to pull your snacks out of your bag.
Be sure to pack a small treat too. Moderation and not depriving yourself will help you stick to healthy eating habits while you travel. Butter Rum Lifesavers or Werther’s Hard Candies are my go-to treats when traveling
Well Rested. A long flight is a great time to rest. It can be a challenge to sleep on a plane with the noise of announcements, other passengers, and the plane gear. Download some soothing music to use as background noise. I like to find a gentle song with savasana vibes, put it on a playlist and then play on repeat. On my most recent flight, I let Liquid Mind’s “In the Stillness” provide the perfect backdrop for a nice long nap.
If you have a hard time sleeping on a plane, then Yoga Nidra might be a better fit for you. This meditation technique is very restful and is said to provide similar benefits as sleep. Record a script or download one from your favorite yoga teacher. I enjoy Shiva Rea’s Yoga Nidra from “Drops of Nectar”. There are many variations available from a variety of teachers, so be sure to find one that is a good fit for you.
Breathe. Travel is not an exact science. You’re also in close quarters with lots of other people working with lots of different energy. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Be sure to breathe. Mindful, slow breaths can help keep you calm.
Enjoy your travels! Did I miss anything? What are your favorite travel tips?