If you've ever flown on a plane, you're familiar with that groggy feeling that follows once you land. Your legs are wobbly, your stomach is churning, and you might even have a headache. Thousands of miles from home, you feel the opposite of refreshed. I recently took two trips in the same month, flying back and forth both times. The first trip was irritated by the long-lasting effects of flying. I was groggy and grouchy in the days following my flight. For my second trip, I changed one small thing in my routine. Even though I flew across two different time zones, I felt remarkably better during my second trip. My flying tip? It all starts with an empty bottle.
I'm generally a polite person, and I'm sure you are too – especially when flying. Manners and patience are imperative when traveling by air. A hundred or so strangers packed into a small space have to maintain some level of politeness, otherwise flights would be absolute chaos. However, it's over-politeness that can keep passengers feeling overly jet-lagged after landing.
My polite inclination when I'm traveling is to drink fewer fluids so I don't have to get up in the middle of a flight to use the restroom. Nothing is worse than having to awkwardly straddle your neighbor in the aisle seat as you get in and out of your row, right? Actually, no. Your etiquette is only injuring you. You actually need to drink more water than usual when you fly.
Dehydration and flying
You might think that jet lag is the only health issue you have to deal with when you fly, but there are other things to look out for, specifically dehydration.
Dehydration occurs when there is a reduction of fluids in the body – either from not consuming enough liquids, or from being in an overly-dry environment. Without enough fluids, your body cannot function properly. Early symptoms of dehydration can manifest as muscle soreness, headaches, and dizziness. Does this sound like you after a flight? If so, you may be wondering: why this is any more of an issue when flying than it is on land?
In your everyday life, you exist in a climate where the humidity is at least 30%, and generally closer to 60%. That's a lot of fluids being absorbed through the skin! The humidity level inside of a plane? It's significantly lower – at 10-20%. A few hours in the air in those dry conditions, and it's no wonder you feel dehydrated and groggy.
How to prevent dehydration
Even if you're a big water-drinker on land, it's important to double-up when you travel by plane. Because the humidity level is so much lower in a plane's cabin, the moisture in your body is being drained at a much faster rate. The Aerospace Medical Association suggests plane passengers drink 8 oz. of water for every one hour in the air. Aside from drinking more water, you may also want to consider bringing eye drops and a moisturizing (but not overly aromatic) hand lotion.
Try this flying tip
The last time I flew, I brought something with me to keep me hydrated and happy. I brought an empty water bottle. If you frequently fly in the United States, you're probably familiar with TSA's strict rules about bringing liquids on a plane. Carry an empty bottle in your bag, and once you get past security, find a water fountain to fill it. The second part of this flying tip is that you'll be more likely to drink your free water. That is, once you see the price of bottled water past the checkpoint. It's practically criminal!
Once in the air, skip the beverages offered at the cart. Caffeine, found in coffee and in most sodas, is a diuretic, meaning you'll have to get up and use the restroom more frequently. Stick to your bottle of water, and you'll be a happy traveler.
During your next flight, don't be afraid to be “that person” who keeps getting up from their seat. A visit or two to the loo is a small price to pay for a trip or vacation unencumbered by dehydration. Drink more water – have a better trip.
Got a flying tip to share? Leave it in the comments!