This is a post on how to survive air travel. I say, “survive” because: if you’re monkey-barring it from redeye to redeye (SLC to JFK to Reykjavik, Iceland for me), your body and mind are very much in full-on survival mode. But instead of imploding with dehydration, fatigue and mind-exploding annoyance, a few simple tricks derived from yogic principals of self-care can help you keep you sanity, physical health, and most importantly, sense of humor (proof these work: I just belly-laughed after waking up on an airport floor over my “bed:” A spread out coat with a jumbled up scarf as the pillow). So remember to bring the following items next time you travel!
I don’t know why I resisted the travel pillow for so long (too tourist you?). I thought I had it all figured out by piling my coat on the tray table and face-planting into hopefully an hour or two of lame plane sleep. But when I tried a cushy neck pillow (paired with my sassy lil eye mask), I found it even easier to catch quality shuteye whether in an aisle, window or middle seat – or even at the gate during a layover Without these items, my “heads up, seven up” position – in which, by the way, I am frequently head-slammed by the person in front of me raising and lowering their seat – is my only option.
You know that tray table I was just talking about? Travelmath.com says it houses more germs than the handle on the toilet. It’s no surprise that airports, public restrooms, and flying capsules in which hundreds of dirty little sardines are packed are breeding grounds for vacay-ruining viruses. So not only chug your water (save $$$ by buying a water bottle after security and keep refilling it), but also stock up on prevention methods and put in your body only what serves to strengthen immunity. I’ve had great success popping a Doterra OnGuard beadlet, capsules of various bacteria-fighting essential oils, pre- and post-flight to keep me healthy. For that same reason, I always stow packets of Emergen-C to mix with water at my new destination for a measurable boost in my physical wellness and energy. In addition to these virus-vanishing methods, plus eating healthy snacks like nuts, yogurt and fruit, I always drink green while traveling! Pre-flight out of Salt Lake City, I slammed a Suja Mighty Greens cold-pressed juice. During my JKF layover, I found an energy boost with Jamba Juice’s Matcha (and kale) smoothie. Then I stepped off the plane in Reykjavek, Iceland, and after two nights of travel, I let out an audible “yes!” when a juice bar is the first thing I see out of passport control (which also says a lot about these healthy Icelanders). I chugged my kale-packed Green Mile juice and fought off jet lag long enough to enjoy a 2-hour horseback ride – in freezing Arctic temperatures, no less! This trip, I know all the nutrients saved me from getting that God-awful roly-poly tummy and just overall hangover feeling i get on trips where French fries, potato chips and chicken fingers are on the menu.
3. PEACE OF MIND
Remembering flight times, replaying travel plans, and dealing with the mildew-smelling man in the seat next to you is a recipe for anxiety. So keep your head calm with music; its proven to fight stress. My husband made fun of me when I resurrected my 80GB-packed iPod (whose curation was my life’s work up until about five years ago) to save on inflight wi-fi fees from web-based services like Spotify. But I was the one laughing when he sheepishly leaned over to ask for an earbud when he had trouble falling asleep! I also stocked up on guided audio meditations, which help promote the “go with the flow” mentality that’s so crucial for travel. Then there’s adult coloring books (worth the space in your carry-on, I promise), and also pampering yourself, which we’ll discuss more now.
During a long layover in JFK, we decided to make the most of it and Subway-it into NYC. Even though we travelled light, with one backpack each, hauling them and ourselves up and down subway steps and around 30 city blocks for at least eight hours, made for some tired, sore bodies. Fueled by desperation, back at the airport, I finally tried the Xpress Spa. Holy life-changing, Batman! I will forever budget $45 ($35 foot massage plus tip) into any long flight plans from now on. I got to lay in a shiatsu massage chair – which kneaded my sore back like play dough- while a stern woman worked the kinks out of my feet, ankles and legs. The 15 blissful minutes felt like 45 because I was getting full-body attention…for the price of a $35 foot massage! Prices there range from $20-$65 and cover services including mani-pedis, facials and full-body massages. On the way back to my gate (and aforementioned airport-floor bed), I felt like a new woman, renewed for my next leg of adventure. Another method that helps me mold “me” time out of a flight is applying spa products. The major benefit of this is that you can allow hard-working products like masks to absorb longer on your skin than you typically have time for at home. At the very least, I always take eye cream, and as you can see, my husband approves of the under-eye gel masks I scored for $1.25 at Xspress Spa.
- If sitting is the new smoking, air travel is an entire pack of them cancer sticks! Movement is key when you’re dealing with long periods of stagnation. Learn a few basic yoga poses that move stale energy and muscle tension out of your body. Yes, people do look at me weird when I bust into downward dog right there at the gate, but I don’t care because my hips and hamstrings are getting a stretch, my inverted brain gets a rush of new oxygen, and I’m toning the muscles in my arms and core. Sometimes, I’m lucky enough to to be at an airport with a yoga room (thanks, SFO). But even if you’re too shy to wag your tail in public, you can at least bring along some natural, medicated muscle cream to cue your body to relax and enjoy the flight. I drop a few Nature’s Fusions Fire & Ice essential oils into coconut oil to rub on all my sore or fatigued spots. Doterra’s PastTense or Deep Blue work great, too, doubling as headache relief when dabbed on temples, and relief from your stinky neighbor when rolled onto your upper lip.
Though there’s no cure-all for a few days of sleep-deprived air travel, I hope these tips help you relieve as much stress as they did for me on recent trips. In fact, as I lay here awake watching the wind swirl snow across rooftops from my hotel window, I’m reaching for some of these items to help soothe me into my new Icelandic schedule.