Wellbeing Tips for Frequent Flyers
Our clients like to travel, so we run wellbeing retreats because we enjoy it too. Travel isn’t always a vacation though, it can also be for business. Then the early mornings, logistics and short sleeps can get a little more tiring. We want to put together some tips for those flying a fair amount to promote that well feeling.
Being organised really helps to reduce the stress when travelling. Here are simple things to prepare and check before the flight:
Weight and size of baggage for check-in and carry-on for the specific airline. Allow time if baggage is likely to be overweight so it can be repacked and balanced (hopefully!).
Online check-in is usually required by most airlines unless there are visa checks required and this may limit online check-in.
Extra legroom is often an extra payment nowadays. This is important for deep vein thrombosis and medical certificates might help get an aisle seat without the payment.
Airlines now vary considerably as to what is included in a flight. Some literally provide a seat alone, which is probably the middle seat. Payment can be required for meals, drinks, aisle or window seat, extra leg-room, priority boarding, entertainment products and anything else that the airline can dream up. Check with the airline if unsure.
100ml clear bottle and bag for carry on, this varies in different countries for the size of the carry on plastic bag. Be prepared to dump products if needed.
Take an almost empty 500ml water bottle that can be refilled once through security and save pennies and the environment on buying plastic bottled water.
Take body wipes on the plane to freshen up without a shower, if needed.
Carry-on bag packed in an organised way saves on time in security.
Have electronics in a separate section to easily pull out and place in a tray.
A security free outfit helps (no belt trousers, easy t-shirt and trainers works well), or if a full outfit needs to be worn then try to keep them simple in mechanism for shoes, belt, jacket and jewellery for ease of putting them through machines.
Food taken through security cannot be liquid form, this includes no water-like textures such as gels, pastes or butters (includes hummus).
Always include key clothes in case the check-in baggage is delayed on arrival.
Know the transport options to and from the airports at both ends. Then add at least 30 minutes for the tired and confused wandering around the airport.
Standing in security lines is painful for everyone.
Allow more than enough time for this process to reduce anxiety levels in the event of delays.
Show compassion to others especially those with dependants.
Take slow exhales to calm the nervous system of all the lights, signs, noises and people.
Practice standing tall with good posture to feel neutral about the situation. Check out the link for the ‘how to’ on a good posture check.
The day before travelling do some fitness that raises the heart rate and breaks a gentle glow of sweat, especially if in nature. This will help the body feel strong and clear for the day of travel.
During the Journey
Dehydration is a key issue on flights. The dry air circulated will encourage this, so drinking extra water on the plane is helpful. This will reduce jet lag and provide better thinking on arrival.
Take entertainment that can be enjoyed during take-off and landing too, if desired. Many airlines now charge for this as an additional item, so being prepared can save some pennies.
Take off for some is a high stress moment. Smile and let the tongue drop into the base of the mouth - this tells the body it can relax a bit.
Bumpy bits are often unpleasant. Follow the advice of the staff and if there is nothing to do, but sit still then visualise something that is calming.
Some airlines have WiFi but do not expect this. Mobiles, e-readers and tablets must be in airplane mode once the cabin doors are closed.
Planes see a lot of people so if hygiene is an area of concern then consider:
shoes when walking around the cabin,
hand sanitiser before eating,
personal headphones, and
own head-pillow for a nap.
Sleeping on the plane? This may or may not happen. Try not to plan to sleep and then become frustrated if it is not possible. Be nice to anyone who’s head droops onto another shoulder, we’ve all been there!
Meditation practices or yoga nidras can be a great way to pass a flight that is constructive use of time whilst resting the body and mind. Try our podcast for ideas that can be downloaded onto a phone.
Talking to those around can ease travel anxiety but also be intrusive. Do not share horror or fear of flying stories!
Try to be considerate about reclining the seat back and go gentle with moving it. If someone takes a knock then apologise.
Knees in the back of chairs are annoying, so if possible try to use bags or arm rests to lift the feet and not disturb other passengers.
If leg stretching or frequent toilet breaks are needed consider paying for extra legroom or booking an aisle seat. Be prepared to ask people to move if next to the window. It’s ok to be annoying as it’s good for everyone to move more.
Meals and waking the neighbour? Allow them to rest. Either they can request food or the airline will offer it to them. The staff are there to keep all customers comfortable.
Try to get up and walk around the plane every hour at least. This is where drinking water and the toilet incentive might help ;)
Lay overs? Or delayed flights?
Do some gentle movement in all ranges - front bend, back bend, reach tall, circle joints, and side bend.
Freshen up with a shower or washroom rinse. Water feels cleansing and helps to clear stresses and strains.
Rehydrate with electrolytes if possible to ensure that the body is as balanced with water as possible.
If it is a long layover consider booking a hotel room. Some airports have mini-pod style hotels or even larger hotels. Check the airport facilities and options as a good sleep lying down can make a huge difference for long-haul flights.
Eat something tasty and nutritious if possible.
Arriving into a new Space and Time
Physical geography affects many aspects of how we can feel on arriving somewhere new. The humidity, sunshine, intensity of cold air, altitude etc are all contributing factors to overall wellbeing. Then factor in possible sleep deprivation and tiredness from the stress of travel, and feeling top wellness might be a struggle.
Baggage claim - Fascia is restricted after flying and sitting for a long period. It makes injuries much more likely when picking up a heavy bag from a carousel. Try to move in all directions when walking through the airport. Take a moment to bend forward, bend sideways, twist and a little backbend before lifting baggage.
Gentle movement - Upon arrival at the final destination do some gentle movement. If possible, go for a walk as this connects the body to the new physical environment and location. The body can orient itself in physical space along with connecting to the Earth again after being several thousands of metres in the air.
Jet lag - Everyone is affected differently and not always consistently. Try not to anticipate any result and just go with the flow. Try to stay awake to the new hours of the location. Go to bed if it is dark and lie to show the body that it is time to rest.
To take Melatonin? This is a natural hormone produced by the body when the sunsets to promote sleep. Some find this helps the adjustment to a new time zone or the ability to sleep on the plane itself. In some countries melatonin can be purchased over the counter at a pharmacy. Discuss it with a medical professional as an option if sleep is already an issue or taking other medications for any contraindications.
A Routine - Set an alarm and try to make a routine in the new time and location. This can reduce disorientation and improve mental focus on the tasks at hand.
Other Tips for Travelling?
We find this blog on thetraveller.com.au helpful for other tips about flights, cancellations and the logistical side of flying. Share some of yours below.
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