For an experience that requires virtually no activity, movement or even mental energy, long-haul flights sure can be exhausting. That’s partly because your body isn’t accustomed to it. The idea of sitting still for eight-plus hours in a dry environment of circulated air, eating salty snacks as you leapfrog time zones is… unnatural. It’s no surprise that long-haul flights can leave you feeling icky, tired and generally unclean.
Luckily, there are ways to combat the unpleasant feeling of long-haul flights. With some planning in advance and a few science-backed tips for when you’re on the airplane, you can cruise to your destination feeling like a million bucks (or whatever the local currency may be!)
Here are four tips for staying fresh on long-haul flights.
Wear Merino Wool Clothing
Flying is stressful on your body in several ways: the environment is dehydrating, and the odd hours and bright lights disrupt your sleep schedule and eating schedule. This creates a perfect setting for sweat and bacteria to come rolling out of your pores.
To tackle sweat at the source, try wearing merino wool. Because the material is naturally antimicrobial, merino wool clothes resist odour-causing bacteria in your sweat. Merino wool is also breathable and “sweat-wicking” (meaning that it moves moisture from your skin and transfers it to the out layer of the clothing, where it’s dispersed). Many travelers swear by their merino wool, with some even reporting wearing theirs for weeks on end without any noticeable smell.
Dehydration causes all sorts of problems. It can make you feel groggy, exacerbating the natural effects of jet lag. It can cause dry skin to get drier and oily skin to get oilier. And, perhaps worst of all for your seatmates, it can cause bad breath.
If you aren’t the type who instinctively remembers to drink water, set a timer. Pack a collapsible water bottle and ask the stewards for water frequently. Drink more than you think you need. Remember, you’re compensating for dehydration.
Avoid the Sodium-Heavy Airplane Meals
Not many people know this, but there’s actually a very good reason airplane food doesn’t sit well with people. The dry cabin environment mixed with low pressure and background noises suppresses your ability to taste salt; to compensate, airline meal preparers add roughly 30% more salt to meals. That’s a lot of sodium. And, as you may well know, sodium further causes dehydration and bloating.
If you’re willing and able, skip the airplane meals in favor of something you pack yourself. Understandably, it’s difficult to pass up a free meal (especially when you’ve spent a small fortune on the ticket), but you’ll feel better doing so.
Include a Sanitary Kit in Your Carry-On
Even with your trusty merino wool underwear, merino wool shirt, collapsible water bottle and home-packed meal, you may still find yourself feeling less-than-fresh. As a temporary stopgap, pack a toiletry kit in your carry-on bag, complete with deodorant, sanitary wipes, facial cleanser and oral care products. Midway through the flight, pop to the bathroom (the walk will do you good) and freshen up.
With these easy-to-find, easy-to-pack items, your next long-haul flight will be clean, clear and fresh.