There are a few things we can all do to make ourselves more comfortable on long plane trips, as well as arriving more refreshed at our destination.
Even if you aren’t on a long-haul flight, but perhaps hop across the Tasman a couple of times a week on business, it pays to take some of these tips onboard with you.
Deep Vein Thrombosis is nothing new, but it has copped a lot of press in recent times. Essentially, it’s the formation of a blood clot in a leg vein. Realistically, it’s only in very severe cases that it becomes life-threatening. The link with air travel is, in the main, due to prolonged periods of immobility which slows down the circulation.
DVT, as we have come to know it, is not, I repeat NOT, an airline specific condition; not even in economy class. If you sit immobile at your desk for 12 hours a day, not changing the position of your feet or getting up to walk around the office, you’re as likely to be at increased risk as any regular aircraft passenger. It also stands to reason that some people will be more as risk than others … smokers, the elderly or those overweight. Recent surgery or leg injuries could also put you at higher risk, as would a heart condition, pregnancy or a history (yours or someone in the family) of clotting abnormalities.
So, firstly let’s consider the liquids. You need to keep topping yourself up with water, juice or other soft drinks, preferably the non-carbonated and caffeine-free type. This will help to prevent dehydration, headaches and tiredness.
While it may seem like a good idea to partake gustily of the ready supply of free alcoholic beverages available in-flight, this isn’t really the best idea, especially if you have to hit the ground running at the other end. Alcohol and coffee will only dehydrate you more. If you’ve ever over-indulged and enjoyed a boozy flight, you’ll know that the hangover at the other end seems even more severe than usual – all thanks to the dehydration!
When it comes to meals, you’re better off eating lightly. I’ve often looked at the portion size and scowled, but the airlines don’t do it just to annoy us or save bucks – it’s actually the more healthy option. You’re better off snacking more regularly than you are bulking up in one sitting.
We’ve all seen the pre-flight videos and read the page in the in-flight magazine, but I have studied airline passengers at length during my worldly travels, and I see very few who get a good dose of exercise, especially on long-haul flights. It doesn’t take much. Just a few swirls of the ankles, a couple of journeys up and down the aisle, a few shoulder shrugs and neck rolls and you’ll feel all the better at the other end.
Support hose used to be something I associated with Grandma and her varicose veins; however, travelling as much as I do for such extended periods, I’ve honestly come to see them as a travel essential. I wear the knee-high variety as I find them easy to pop on once seated on the plane. Why? How often have you arrived at a foreign destination and struggled to get your shoes back on after having lazed in your socks or slippers for the duration of the flight? I’ve found that my feet are less swollen if I wear my hose. Another benefit is that they’re warm and you don’t have to look like Cousin Annie in those dreadful airline socks (if you’re lucky enough to even get them these days!).
Keeping yourself more healthy in-flight isn’t an onerous chore. You’re going to drink something, so just ensure you don’t over-indulge on the alcohol; you have to get up to go to the loo, so perhaps just wander the aisle an extra couple of times before heading back to your seat; you have to eat, just make sure it’s lighter than you’d have at home and perhaps follow it with a snack later on.
Finally, if you do have a medical condition, talk to your medical practitioner well in advance of your intended travel dates. If the condition is serious enough and you cannot avoid travelling, you’d be well-advised to notify the airline, too!