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A Flight Attendant’s Top Ten Tips for Staying Healthy While Flying

Travel Tips | Sara Keagle | January 13, 2024

Lately, it feels like everyone is sick. My first year as a flight attendant I was sick more times than I can count. Determined to find a way to stay healthy while flying, I embarked on a journey of trial and error. After countless attempts, I finally discovered a routine that works for me.

Now, with cold and flu season upon us, it’s more important than ever to stay healthy, especially if you’re planning to travel by airplane. I’ve compiled a list of tried and true tips that have helped me stay in good health. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll increase your chances of avoiding those pesky seasonal illnesses.

Top Ten Tips for Staying Healthy While Flying

  1. Strengthen your immune system

    Eat right and exercise before you even get on a plane. Think fresh fruit and vegetables, less sugar, and whole grains. A healthy lifestyle may prevent you from catching your neighbors cold!

  2. Sleep

    Get a good nights rest the night before you fly. If your body is not used to it flying will make you extremely tired. Add the stress you’ll probably be feeling and you have a recipe for exhaustion.

  3. Meditate

    Speaking of stress, take the time to relax and before you travel, properly prepare yourself by packing a full day before and give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport. That way if you get stuck in traffic or the security line you can relax.

  4. Pack healthy snacks

    As I mentioned earlier you need lots of energy to get you through a day of air travel so pack foods that fuel your body. Think, nuts, veggies, and fruits. Foods that are processed or high in sugar and fat will only deplete your energy.

  5. Hydrate

    Don’t let the liquid ban prevent you from drinking enough water on travel day. There are lots of filtered water bottles on the market that you can carry empty through security and fill up at a water fountain once past TSA.

  6. Skip the alcohol

    Alcohol will dehydrate and bloat you. It could also cause you to miss your flight as airlines are not allowed to board passengers appearing to be intoxicated. Remember alcohol has a greater effect on your body when in the air. And, if you cause a problem due to intoxication once inflight? You’d be dealing with the federal government! (Prison is very bad for your health!)

  7. Bring anti-bacterial wipes and lotion

    It’s good to have both in your carry on for the times that you can’t make it to the bathroom to wash your hands. It’s also a good idea to wipe your tray table and arm rests with the wipes. Cleaners are only given minutes to clean the airplane in between flights so tray tables only get cleaned once a day on average. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but, I’ve seen many poopie diapers changed on the tray tables.

  8. Pack disposable place mats in your carry-on

    I started carrying these when I started traveling with my daughter. I now bring them whether she is with me or not. They give me the freedom to eat, drink and be merry on my tray table with out worrying about what went on there on the last flight! Did I mention clipping nails is a common activity for air travel.

  9. Stretch

    Not by performing yoga in the galley. Your flight attendants won’t appreciate that but, do take a walk at least every hour of flight to get your circulation going and prevent thrombosis.

  10. Keep your hands and your things out of the seat back pockets

    Again, flight attendants have found everything from dirty diapers to used vomit bags in there. The last thing you want to do is get cold germs all over your lap top or magazine because you didn’t realize the last passenger’s used tissues were scrunched up in the bottom of your seat back pocket.

In conclusion, air travel can be a thrilling experience, but it is also a hub for various health risks if not adequately prepared. By following these simple yet effective measures such as bringing antibacterial wipes and lotion, utilizing disposable place mats, regularly stretching during long flights, and avoiding placing your belongings in the seat back pockets, you can stay healthy while flying. Remember, a little precaution goes a long way in ensuring a safe and enjoyable journey.

Photo by Flickr user Desiree Williams used under creative commons

About The Author

Sara Keagle is a Flight Attendant for a major U.S. Airline with over twenty years of experience. On her blog The Flying Pinto she shares advice on making air travel less stressful for all and offers peeks behind the galley curtain. She also co-hosts The Crew Lounge, a weekly podcast that gives insight into the career of a flight attendant.

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