Aeroplane in the clouds

Air travel: in-flight tips for a healthier you

PUBLISHED: 15 August 2019 | LAST UPDATED: 4 October 2023

Travelling by plane can be tough, both on the body and the mind, and it doesn’t always get easier the more you do it. Find out how you can optimise your travel in-flight routine with our top tips, to help you hit the ground running. 

Jet lag – the curse of long-haul flights 

If you’re a regular flyer, you’ve probably experienced jet lag. It’s simply your body clock becoming out of sync with your new time zone. Often, when we think about jet lag, we think about sleep problems - but it’s often more than that. Although the main issues are sleep, jet lag can also make you experience digestive issues such as indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea and bloating. The key to minimising jet lag is to try and adjust to your new time-zone as quickly as possible. 

Landing in the morning 
If you’re flying while it’s night time in your destination, try and sleep on the plane (bring on the ear plugs!) and hold off eating until breakfast time – if possible, wait until you’ve landed and get a hearty breakfast or brunch and some natural light with it too. This will help your body recognise that it’s the start of the day – regardless of what time it was when you left. It could also help to try and build in as much of your usual morning routine into your journey as possible. For example, clean your teeth and wash your face before you go to sleep and then again when you wake up and freshen up with clean underwear and deodorant before you land. This all goes someway to helping you and your body adjust. 

Landing in the evening 
If you’ll be landing towards the end of the day, stay awake on the plane as much as you can, keep yourself entertained and move and stretch regularly. Start winding down as you approach your destination so you can get to sleep as soon as possible and then force yourself to wake up at a reasonable time in the morning. 

Keeping your body at its best 
Staying hydrated during any flight is crucial. The plane air-conditioning, the altitude and any jet lag can all leave you feeling groggy and bloated, and can dry out your skin. Drinking plenty of water will help your body cope with the unnatural environment. But try to avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can make you feel worse. 

Sitting comfortably 
No one likes being cramped in a plane seat, and cramming your bag under the seat in front of you so you can get things more easily isn’t going to help; put your bag in the locker rather than under the seat. Your body will appreciate the extra leg room and if you need to get something else out – the extra movement will also do you good. You could even book ahead to secure seats with extra leg room. If you’ve got any back pain, sit upright with support, such as a small cushion, in the small of your back. Your knees and hips should be level and your feet should be flat on the floor.

Taking a stroll at 900km/h 
Remembering to move is really important. Get up and walk around the cabin as much as possible, and do some shoulder and ankle rolls and stretches in your seat. This movement will help to keep your blood flowing and to prevent you from becoming stiff and tense. If you’re worried about developing deep vein thrombosis, or know you’re at risk, speak to your doctor about the benefits of wearing flight socks. Don’t forget, if you’re an AXA customer you’ll have access to the Virtual Doctor service as part of your international health plan, where you have round the clock access to trained doctors who are on hand to answer any medial questions, helping to put your mind at rest. 

Using your time wisely 

Whether it’s time to relax…
A flight is the perfect opportunity to relish the lack of distractions. Do something you often don’t find the time to do in everyday life like read, write or sketch for pleasure, or really listen to an album. Take the uninterrupted time to do some mindfulness or meditation – If you’re not sure where to start, listen to our Mindful Breathing podcast, here.  

…Or time to work 
On the flip side of this you might want to use the time to get some jobs done that have been hanging over you. Maybe they’re work related, maybe it’s personal admin. Either way, ticking off some of those jobs can clear your mental workload and allow you to prepare for your trip. Simply offloading things that you’ve had in your head onto a to-do-list can be an excellent way to destress. Even if you don’t complete the list, writing down everything you’ve been trying to remember means you don’t have to think about it until you need to. 

Top inflight tips to make the most of your travels

The information in this article is correct at the time of publishing.

Sources: – Vaga Brothers – Monica Church – The Super Commuting Dad – Lindsay MC – Clearly Chloe  – Danielle Marie Caroline