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What Should I Do Before a Long Flight?

8 Mistakes You Might Be Making Before a Long Flight

Everything is in place for your trip. Your bags are packed, reservations are booked, and you scored a stellar deal on a room with ocean views. But the one thing that stands between you and relaxation mode? The hours you still need to spend in the air. So before you board, be sure to check this list of potential mistakes you might be making to avoid some major discomfort at 30,000 feet.

1. Pulling an All-Nighter

There are very few things less fun than traveling with a hangover. But heavy partying aside, some people swear by staying up all night in hopes of sleeping on the flight. While this might sound practical in theory, in reality it usually just throws off your internal body clock even more and fosters jet lag. Dr. Chris Tomshack, CEO and founder of HealthSource Chiropractic, recommends getting a solid night's rest and using all-natural supplements like magnesium to promote relaxation.

2. Loading Up on Salty or Heavy Foods

While a quick fast-food breakfast might sound appealing, eating foods laden with sodium can dehydrate you and cause swelling of the hands and feet. And since air travel already dehydrates your body and interferes with circulation, you now have a double whammy. You'll also want to avoid any foods that could potentially upset your stomach (for obvious reasons!).

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3. Counting on the WiFi

You might have grand plans to catch up on a ton of work in the air, but make sure you can still be productive offline. WiFi is usually available on long-haul flights, but sometimes the connection can be really slow or flat-out not work at all.

4. Boozing It Up

Whether to calm flight jitters or in hopes of catching some immediate zzz's in flight, it can be tempting to knock back a couple drinks before your boarding zone is called. But Dr. Gustavo Ferrer, MD, a pulmonologist and author of Cough Cures, warns travelers that too much alcohol can have the opposite effect, altering your sleep cycle and making jet lag even worse.

5. Not Packing Layers

It could be the height of Summer outside, but rest assured, it can still feel like the brink of Winter in the air. Amie O'Shaughnessy, founder and CEO of Ciao Bambino, advises dressing in layers to prepare for the uncertain climate. "In-flight temperatures are unpredictable, and there is nothing worse than being too hot or too cold for hours over the ocean. Wear and/or bring light layers that can be put on together for warmth or stripped off to adjust to the real-time conditions rather than clothing with no flexibility."

6. Forgetting to Hydrate

Hydrating before, during, and after a long flight is crucial; prolonged periods of time in a climate-controlled cabin will dehydrate you. To make matters even worse, fear of using the pint-size lavatories in the air can cause travelers to neglect H2O altogether. Drinking enough water will help with skin issues and inflammation, and as Dr. Ferrer points out, can prevent potential urinary tract infections.

7. Not Loosening Up

You might feel great now, but five hours in can be a totally different story. Brad Walker, director of education at StretchLab, encourages fliers to get their blood pumping before takeoff. "Get some gentle aerobic exercise before and after your flight — an easy walk around the block with a few deep-breathing exercises or a relaxing swim or bike ride are great ways to keep the blood flowing and loosen up any tight muscles or joints."

8. Neglecting Any Pain

If your muscles are particularly tight, sitting in the same cramped position for hours will typically only add to the discomfort. Dr. Tomshack advises travelers to "visit a chiropractor or massage therapist to help relax tight and painful muscles, improve range of motion in the joints, and enhance circulation. Doing this before a long flight also promotes meditation and mindfulness, allowing yourself to become centered before the hustle and bustle of travel takes over."

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