Staying Healthy When You’re Travelling On Planes

Anthia Koullouros

Naturopath and Holistic Health Expert

Stay healthy when you’re travelling on planes is possible — the key to travelling with ease, comfort and health is to be prepared. Flying economy, business or first class will influence how you feel during your travels and upon arrival.

My in-flight “travel well” pack includes:

– Lavender essential oil – I add a few drops to a hankie and sniff to help induce sleep, calm nerves and soothe muscles when applied topically.

– Natural wipes – no longer exclusively for nappy changing or feminine hygiene, these can be found in most health food stores. Use to wipe hands, remove makeup or freshen up during your flight.

– Light pajamas (unless they are supplied on flight). I put them on almost immediately, especially on a long flight, to feel comfy and keep my clothes fresh.

– Bottled water – I ask for one immediately from a flight attendant.

– Lip balm and a good nourishing moisturizer.

– Herbal sleeping tablets – I try to align with my destination’s sleep/wake cycle. Extra support with natural medicine can ensure this. I take them 30 minutes before I want to sleep.

Preventing and treating common travel symptoms:

1. Jet lag/sleep

Stay awake for as long as you can during the day. Get plenty of sunlight in order to re-establish healthy cortisol levels and try and sleep by 10pm for optimal melatonin levels. Ask your herbalist for herbs to assist in re-establishing a healthy circadian rhythm.

2. Dehydration

After a long flight skin can feel dry and crêpey. Hydrating and oiling up from the inside out is key. Eat avocado, extra virgin and cold-pressed olive oil and coconut oil. For fluids, drink 3% of your body weight in liters per day. Avoid caffeine, sugar and drying, processed foods that draw more water, such as ready-to-eat grain-based products: crackers, biscuits, cereals.

3. Constipation

Dehydration, change in time zone and diet contributes to this problem. The best remedy is a gentle herbal laxative from your qualified Herbalist to reestablish healthy patterns. Feeing blocked up and bloated can draw on energy and make you feel tired and sluggish.

4. Viruses and Common Colds

Small spaces on planes and airport lounges, exposure to lots of people, travel stress and the very common experience of getting sick as soon as work stress is relieved can put a real dampener on the holiday you have needed and looked so forward to having! Build immunity and support the adrenal glands before and during travel, by taking a simple herbal remedy daily.

5. Biliousness due to overeating or indulgence.

Julia Child famously advised “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream”, yet she still acknowledged that a sudden increase in fats can tax digestion. Try eating bitter greens before meals, enjoying smaller portions and chewing thoroughly.

6. Travel bug

The one thing that will stop you in your tracks is a dreaded bug, causing symptoms from digestive upset to feeling wiped out. Avoid spending your holiday in bed by building a strong, healthy digestive and immune system prior to travel. See your Naturopath if you are generally susceptible to bug overgrowth. Travel with a probiotic that doesn’t need refrigeration, charcoal tablets and electrolyte powders to rehydrate and stop diarrhoea. An herbal tonic/tea that includes herbs such as fennel, caraway, aniseed, chamomile, peppermint and cinnamon will soothe symptoms as well as hydrate. I also travel with an antimicrobial herbal tablet in case I can’t find a doctor or pharmacist.

7. Weight gain

I always travel with the best of intentions, and try not to overeat and avoid food I wouldn’t normally eat. I usually adhere to this, but sometimes what’s on offer is hard to refuse! Especially if you’re a foodie like me wanting to experience local fare. The solution? Try to only eat the very best wholefood. Avoid processed, packaged, airplane and airport food, hotel bar fridge food and street vendor food. When you get back, for one week eliminate grains, alcohol & sugar. This usually does the trick, as well having plenty of nutrient-rich and light, easily digested foods & fluids such as broths, soups, vegetable juices and herbal teas.

8. Pollution exposure

Every city has its own share of pollution, even Sydney. Walking around new cities & sightseeing unfortunately exposes you to so much more. Cigarette smoke & vehicle fumes are the greatest sources, compounded by a lack of nature. Plants breathe in the carbon dioxide we breathe out and supply us with oxygen. Detox with St Mary’s Thistle, take an antioxidant herb such as Maritime Pine Bark and use Gubinge Powder for an extra dose of Vitamin C. Consult with your practitioner when you get back for a prescription.

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