A piece of wisdom I hear often is that the journey is more important than the destination. This is often true—except when the journey involves endless traffic, overbooked flights, and six-hour layovers. Unfortunately, traveling is rarely a pleasant experience. To make matters worse, it can take a serious physical toll on people. Jetlag and germs threaten our bodies every time we step foot on an airplane. With the holidays coming up and flu season at its peak, two things are certain: traveling is necessary and illness is imminent. To help you better survive this winter, we asked a seasoned flight attendant for personal advice on how to stay healthy while traveling.

H2O is essential. Flight attendants, doctors, and travel veterans all stress that staying hydrated is the key to staying healthy on the go. Pressurized cabins on airplanes lack humidity, causing your mucus membranes to dry out and making you more susceptible to germs. Water is essential in flushing out toxins from your system and preventing illness. Dehydration is also a major contributor to jet lag. To avoid this, drink a gallon of water the day before, the day of, and the day after your flight. Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol as well. Though you can’t bring liquids through security, you can bring an empty water bottle. Fill it up at a water fountain before boarding, and don’t be shy about asking your flight attendant to fill it for you during the flight so you can stay hydrated while airborne.

Stay active! Being stuck in seat 23A for a long period of time increases your risk of deep venous thrombosis, a fancy term for blood clots in your legs that develop after a long flight. This can be avoided by taking frequent walks around the cabin while airborne. If you follow our advice to drink a lot of water, this won’t be a problem—you will be standing up regularly to use the bathroom! After landing, try to get moving in any way possible. Hit the gym at your hotel, take a swim, or go for a simple walk. Your body will thank you after being immobile for so long. On the same token, be sure to get plenty of rest at the end of the day. At least 6-8 hours of sleep is recommended to keep your immune system strong and keep your body healthy.

Be a germaphobe. Keep hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes in your carry-on, and don’t be afraid to use them. Before settling into your seat, wipe down the arm rests, seatbelt, and tray table to disinfect these areas that are overflowing with bacteria. Avoid touching other seats as you navigate the aisles and use a paper towel to open the bathroom door. Use hand sanitizer after touching any common area. Proper hygiene and basic hand washing go a long way to protect you from germs.

In short, make smart and healthy decisions before, during, and after traveling to keep your body at its best. If you get enough rest, drink plenty of water, and eat nutritious foods, you should be fine. Take caution on your journey so you can enjoy your destination. Bon voyage!

~Kelly O.  Communications Specialist