Flights booked. Bags packed. Adventure awaits! Oh yeeeeeeah. I can feel your excitement way over here. All that’s left to do is board your flight and enjoy the ride. But — don’t risk ruining your travels by doing something on the plane that has the potential to do just that. Here are my top flying tips on what not to do on an airplane the next time you find yourself thousands of miles up in the air.
Avoiding some or all of these actions will make sure you enjoy the view and land back on the ground arriving in your A-game.
What not to do on an airplane
1| Drink the water
I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you, but airline tap water is notoriously bacteria-prone. Numerous tests show that a high percentage of airplanes still have bacteria in the water served on board.
Most airplanes these days, don’t serve drinking water from the tap, but their ice cubes, however, are often still made from the same water. At best, avoid these.
On the same breath opt out of the coffee or tea.
You don’t want to drink anything that could possibly be made with the tap water from the plane. Another reason to avoid coffee and tea onboard is that caffeinated beverages could leave you slightly dehydrated and stimulants mess with your sleeping. Something you don’t need when falling asleep on an airplane is already quite the mission.
Opt for bottled water instead — they board plenty of these bottles on board. Choose canned or bottled drinks instead to stay on the safe side.
2| Sleep during takeoff or landing
During the plane’s ascent or descent, the air pressure around you changes faster than the air inside your ears. They say all you need to do to equalize the pressure is to yawn or chew something.
Accidentally falling asleep through the pressure change might make it harder to equalize the pressure, harder on your ears and discomfort if you’re prone to that sort of thing.
Hold off on the sleep until your ears pop yo!
3| Turn off the air vent over your seat
I love the feeling of a light breeze on my face through the entire flight and always open the air vents above my seat.
Not only is the cooling breeze a good thing, but also I hear Doctors recommend the adjustable air over your seat be set to medium or high in flight so that any airborne germs can be blown away before they enter your personal zone.
4| Stay in your seat the entire time
Low air pressure in the cabin can slow your circulation and travelling by plane increases the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) often referred to as “economy-class syndrome” — a type of blood clot in your veins that usually forms in the legs.
This can be prevented with simple movements in your seat or walking around the plane.
Simple stretches like raising your toes while your heels remain on the floor or raising your heels with your toes on the floor or flexing and relaxing your calf muscles and feet — can all help to get the blood flowing.
It is important to move your legs, get up, stretch your legs or move around as much as possible.
Oh, one more thing — try to avoid wearing tight clothing that could cut off circulation while in flight. Loose-fitting clothing is so much more comfortable anyway.
5| Eat the wrong kind of foods
Eating too much before or during your flight can make you feel uncomfortable, sluggish and bloated. A big reason for this is the lack of physical movement while onboard and because of this the digestive system is not processing food through the intestines as quickly as it should or it normally would.
What are the worst food offenders when it comes to this?
Heavy carbs such as bread and pasta; salty foods like potato chips and salted snacks; fried foods; and creamy sauces.
Avoiding or reducing your intake of these kinds of foods especially on long haul flights will not only help reduce fluid retention in your body, but also help to reduce the total amount of food lying stagnant in your digestive tract.
You should aim to eat foods that help you feel satisfied while still easy on the body systems. The best meal options on flights are the lightest such as vegetables, fish, salads and soups. These options fill you up without any extra retention of salt and fluid in the body. And if these foods are not readily available on the flights you take, pack some of your own.
6| Eat food after it has fallen on your tray table
Take a guess as to where to find the highest levels of harmful bacteria on a plane?
On plane tray tables.
I’m willing to bet you didn’t see that one coming.
The tray tables are not sterilised between flights and are usually only wiped down once a day. Granted that those tray tables are used for all kinds of things, I’d say let that fallen peanut go if it hits the tray.
7| Wear contact lenses
Yet another consequence of the dry air within the airplane cabin is the irritation of your eyes by contact lenses, even more so than the usual. My recommendation — get your hot-nerd-look on during flight and wear glasses, resulting in more comfort and less urge to rub your eyes.
8| Walk around barefoot
I know, I know. You want to feel as comfortable during your 8-hour flight onboard and wearing shoes just doesn’t cut it. But, to be honest, the floor onboard is not the cleanest of places and full of germs. Everything from fallen food to vomit and blood has touched that carpet.
If you must, your best bet would be to keep socks on while seated and put your shoes back on every time you need to leave your seat for the bathroom or walk down the gallery.
9| Forget to wear sunscreen/moisturiser
Anyone that has flown for an extended period of time knows that airplanes and flying is notorious for drying out your skin.
Don’t forget to moisturise. Even better, is one that has built-in SPF to protect against the sun rays and UV radiation. Yes, that does get in through the windows.
10| Say yes to alcohol
What’s wrong with alcohol onboard? You ask. Doesn’t it take the edge off of flying?
Well, here a couple reasons. Decide to consume at your own risk.
Alcohol is extremely dehydrating and will leave your cells parched. Combine that with the already low humidity inside the airplane and your body in for a drying experience. Dehydration is one the most common reasons why the body feels poorly after a long flight.
Although alcohol might make you feel sleepy at first, it can eventually mess with your sleep quality by interrupting your REM sleep. The same goes for stimulants and those drinks with caffeine in them.
Lower oxygen levels in the plane and onboard pressure can reduce your usual tolerance for alcoholic beverages and make you react to its effects much faster.
Finally, excessive drinking lowers your immune system in general and the last thing you need before that adventure is catch a bug.
11| Forget to stay hydrated
The air inside the cabin is particularly dry and of low humidity. Your body loses moisture every time you exhale, and breathing at high altitudes can dehydrate you.
Drinking plenty of water helps strengthen your immune system as dehydration makes us more disposed to contracting an illness.
So it’s really important that you remember to hydrate, hydrate and hydrate.
I know I advised to skip the ice in your drink and not to drink the water onboard. So what to do? While you could buy a bottle once you’ve passed through security, the best option would be to bring an empty bottle and fill it at the water fountain after the security check.
You could also ask the flight attendants for bottled water.
12| Keep quiet when you’re not feeling well
Don’t ever hesitate or feel embarrassed to tell the flight crew that you’re not feeling well. Your health, safety and wellbeing are not an inconvenience.
Flight attendants are well trained and equipped to deal with a wide scope of issues, including health and medical emergencies and will be able to provide assistance and ease when you need it the most easing your flight experience.
13| Bonus: Talk to strangers
Should you talk to strangers on a plane or not? Check out this post for all the details.
Looking after yourself while onboard and being aware of some things not to do on an airplane should ensure you arrive at your destination healthier, happier, more energised and ready to enjoy your travels.
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