Pilot reveals how to look and feel refreshed in flight
Going on holiday has its pros and cons – while you’re at your destination there’s nothing better, you’re relaxed, experiencing new things and generally having a good time – unfortunately this paradise is taken over sandwiched between two potentially stressful flights.
Christine Cancar, pilot and optician at Feel Good Contacts (opens in a new tab) operates an average of six flights per weekend. Here she explains what she does to stay healthy on long and short haul flights, crossing different time zones.
She also offers 11 tips on what passengers should do to feel good on their flights, especially with low cabin pressure/humidity levels, recirculated and dry air and a lack of fresh oxygen, which can all have adverse effects on your mind and body.
Here are Christine Cancar’s travel tips:
1. Stay hydrated
The moment passengers set foot on my plane, they get into the holiday spirit as they can finally switch off and begin their break. It’s easy to have a “get them here” attitude in business class and first class. While it’s nice to indulge, I suggest you limit your intake of alcohol, tea and coffee as it can be very dehydrating. When you arrive at your destination, the last thing you want to be wide awake and in the mood to party when jet lag means it’s either very late at night or very early in the morning.
I only drink water during flights. Water helps with a number of issues, including dehydration, constipation, and disorientation caused by jet lag. Drinking plenty of water will encourage you to get up from your seat and walk to the toilet, which can be beneficial.
Being confined to a seat can have adverse effects on your body. On long-haul flights, when it’s safe to do so, you should get up and move around for five minutes every two hours. Look in your seat pocket for advice on seated and non-seated stretches and exercises. Movement is important for preventing stiffness as well as more serious conditions like blood clots or deep vein thrombosis. Even simple movements like moving your feet up and down and side to side will help boost your circulation.
To look presentable and professional for my job as a pilot, I wear makeup but as a passenger, it’s healthier to keep your face fresh, clean and makeup-free during your trip because makeup will clog your pores. Due to the dry, air-conditioned atmosphere of the aircraft, you should apply moisturizer to your face before boarding the flight and if it is a long-haul flight, reapply moisturizer during the trip.
Along with the moisturizer, I keep a small jar of aloe vera or sudocrem to help with any blemishes and spots that appear as well as soothe dry, itchy skin. This can sometimes be caused by wearing face masks. Currently, most airlines do not require you to carry one, provided the destination you are flying to does not have a mandate in place for incoming flight passengers.
Did you know that airplane windows don’t filter out the sun’s harmful UV rays? So I use sunscreen to protect my skin. Even when I’m not in direct sunlight, I’m still exposed to those harmful UV rays.
As we are still dealing with Covid, I use antibacterial gel/wipes to keep my hands clean. On long-haul flights, before going to bed, passengers should apply hand cream to their hands to avoid the drying effects of cabin pressure.
The dry cabin atmosphere can make your eyes dry and uncomfortable, so I keep small single-use vials of moisturizing eye drops to keep my eyes moist and in perfect condition.
I wear contact lenses. If you wear contact lenses, I recommend that you wear, like me, silicone hydrogel on the plane. (opens in a new tab) daily lenses. These types of lenses allow six times more oxygen to reach the eye, meaning they can be worn for an extended period of time and still be comfortable. For convenience, I recommend opting for the daily disposable version of these lenses so you don’t have to use contact lens solution. I always keep a spare pair of these disposable lenses with me.
It is important that you remove your lenses when you fall asleep. So always keep a pair of glasses in your hand luggage in case you need them at short notice.
Before each flight, I have a light meal. It’s light because I want to feel both satisfied and comfortable when I’m flying the plane. During your flight, I recommend that you do the same and not overeat. Choose fruits and vegetables over heavy, high-calorie meals. If I need a snack I will eat a healthy protein bar.
7. Motion sickness
If you suffer from motion sickness, it is advisable not to overeat and remember to take travel sickness tablets with you.
8. Dietary requirements
If you have any food allergies or dietary restrictions, you must notify the airline when booking your flight. It is always a good idea to remind the cabin crew of your requirements during the flight.
My pilot uniform is made from breathable natural fabric, it’s loose fitting so I can perform my job comfortably and stay focused without any unnecessary distractions from clothing.
I also wear flat and supportive shoes for safety. I suggest passengers wear comfortable shoes and clothes on the plane, they should avoid wearing high heels and wearing layers as the air conditioning (which is on all the time) means it can get cold in the cabin .
With flight disruptions and an upright seat, it can be difficult to sleep on an airplane. Make sure you are well rested and not stressed before you travel. To make it easier to sleep in-flight, bring an eye mask, earplugs and a neck pillow. You should also avoid stimulants like tea, coffee, and alcohol.
11. Finally… jet lag
Jet lag can also affect your mind and body. To acclimatize to the new time zone, you should do the following:
- Make sure you are well rested before the flight
- Walk around in daylight before the flight, as natural light helps you adjust
- Depending on the time zone you travel to, try going to bed an hour earlier/later and waking up an hour earlier/later. Start this routine about a week before your trip
- When boarding, you must set your watch/phone clock to your new time zone. Some phones do this automatically
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water