You’ve planned, saved and looked forward to your holiday for a long time. The last thing you want is to deal with is any hassle or stress on a long-haul flight. So what are the best ways to arrive at your destination feeling relaxed, well and ready to get the most out of your holiday?
Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives us her top five tips for arriving in good shape at your holiday destination.
BEFORE YOU TRAVEL
Many of us suffer from digestive upsets when we go away; constipation, diarrhoea, stomach cramps or worse. Long-haul flying can play havoc with the digestive system so you need to make sure your friendly gut bacteria are in good balance well before you travel (at least one month). One of the main reasons travellers feel ill on planes is also often because of digestive problems, so this is another great reason for boosting your friendly bacteria.
Plan in advance and take a course of probiotics (otherwise known as friendly bacteria) for a month before you’re due to travel. This will also help to prevent stomach upsets whilst in foreign countries.
If the thought of flying worries you (and around 40% of people have a fear of flying), then a little preparation can make a big difference to your travel experience. Making sure you get to the airport in plenty of time already sets you up for a calmer journey. Let the cabin crew know if you are anxious and if you don’t like turbulence, try to reserve a seat near the centre of the plane – there’s definitely much more movement towards the back.
To keep calm, occupy your mind with a good book or try listening to the music channel specifically produced for nervous passengers. Additionally, the herb Passionflower, is brilliant at calming the nerves; start taking it a couple of days before you fly.
It will come as no surprise to learn that the most common medical condition on board long haul flights is deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Limited movement and cramped seating can cause circulation to become sluggish, which leads to an increased tendency for a clot to form. However, there’s lots you can do to prevent this happening: drink plenty of water both before and during the flight, avoid drinking alcohol, stretch and move around as much as possible during the flight, but also wear compression stockings during the flight if you’re concerned.
Smokers, ladies on the contraceptive pill, those who are very overweight or who have other health issues tend to be most at risk, so prevention is always better than cure. Taking the herb ginkgo biloba for a couple of weeks before travelling really helps to improve the circulation, as do fish oils, which many people take as part of their daily supplement programme. Both will have a preventative effect.
EATING AND DRINKING
If goes without saying that drinking excessive alcohol during your long haul flight can really affect you on many levels! It can increase the risk of DVT, it makes you more dehydrated (which can make you feel much worse on landing) plus the time it takes to get over jet lag will definitely increase. At the very least, you need to be drinking lots of water all the way through the flight – never turn down the offer of water when the cabin crew come around. In-flight food can often be the cause of digestive upsets either during or after the flight. Whilst it’s not always practical to take your own food on board a long flight, taking some oatcakes or rice cakes with some nut butter or some home-made muesli bars is always good, or buy some olives on board which make a great, healthy snack. It’s important to keep your blood sugar levels balanced so that your energy is good when you land; take some light protein snack bars on board; often ones that contain no gluten are best because, this will reduce the risk of any bloating.
One of the worst things about flying is jet lag, which can last for several days, especially after a long-haul flight. Jet lag can cause fatigue, irritability and sleepless nights for a few days afterwards. However, the amino acid 5 HTP which helps to produce our sleep hormone, melatonin, can really help to re-set the body clock. You can buy it in supplement form from all health food stores so make sure you pack some before you leave. The best advice is always to move straight into your new time zone and attempt to get onto holiday time straight away. Not always easy, and sometimes a small nap will be needed when you arrive, but avoid going for long sleeps unless it’s at the right bed time for you destination. If you take some 5 HTP an hour before you go to bed and for a few days after you arrive (and again when you return home) you can alleviate most of the unpleasant feelings of jet lag.
So, now you can look forward to your long haul flight and you’ll arrive in much better shape ready to kick off your holiday!