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The Best Self-care Tips for Flying, From a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

by | May 10, 2022 | Travel | 0 comments

There you are.. Tickets booked, excitement level 100, out of office email responder set, and since it’s been maybe 3 years (or more!) since your last vaca – thanks COVID – you forget all your self-care tips for flying!

Well, here’s everything you need to remember!

This post will cover self-care during plane travel but most of the tips also apply to all other types of travel as well! 

We’re breaking it down into 3 main categories…

  1. FOOD
  2. SKINCARE
  3. COMFORT

And a huge shoutout to my Instagram community for sharing your best travel tips! This was a combined effort post and I appreciate you.

Let’s get to it!

Food self-care tips for flying

Here’s my advice for foods to avoid as well as foods to stock up on for your flight, as a registered dietitian nutritionist. 

**But first, let me preface this section with the fact that i’m a non-diet, intuitive eating dietitian which means I believe ALL foods fit and that YOU are the best expert of how to feed yourself. 

These suggestions are meant to be simply that – just suggestions. Feel free to take what works for you and leave the rest. As always, your body is the best judge of what does/doesn’t work for you. 

We’re mostly focusing on how particular foods/nutrients will make you feel, therefore impacting why they’re either recommended or not recommended. Not because they’re “good” or “bad.”**

Okay, disclaimer over! Read on!

Foods/beverages to stock up on for plane travel

(These suggestions work for both packing your own food ahead of time OR grabbing food at the airport…)

Fruit

You might be thinking, “fruit?!” is she serious!? Like, how the fck can you travel with fruit lady… But hear me out! Fruit is actually very easy to travel with if you go with the right kinds and do a little prep. 

The best “throw in your bag and go” fruits are also what I call hand fruits meaning all you need to eat them is your hand: 

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Pears

I would also suggest filling a tupperware with grapes or berries, if that’s more your style. 

Fruit is light, fresh, quick, easy, hydrating, nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory, and digests quickly meaning it won’t sit in your stomach for hours on the plane.

Lean Proteins

Such as…

  • Turkey rollups
  • Hard boiled eggs (pre-peeled for ease of eating!)
  • Chicken salad
  • Protein bars
  • Unsalted almonds

Are great ways to feel satisfied and fuller for longer.

Veggies

Michelle Spanedda photography

To be honest I have NEVER traveled with veggies… It’s just not something I personally vibe with while traveling but I have plenty of clients and friends who love to pack a little veggie tupperware. 

I will however grab a veggie cup at the airport when I see it, or a side salad situation.

Veggies are filled with nutrients to keep your vitality and energy up and generally just make us feel good! 

You can do carrot and/or celery sticks, bell peppers, and even a little side of hummus for dipping! You may want to avoid cruciferous veggies like broccoli or cauliflower as those may contribute to excess gas. The LAST thing you want on your flight is to be gassy!

Water

Flying tends to be very dehydrating due to elevation changes, circulating plane air, etc. I read somewhere once that planes have like 8-10% humidity?

Drink as much water as possible without landing you in the bathroom every 8 seconds, since that’s also not fun. 

Try to hydrate more the 24 hours prior to your flight as this will also help your hydration levels the next day. Dehydration can lead to headache, dizziness, fatigue, and more and that’s NOT how you wanna start your trip!

Foods/beverages to *potentially* avoid for plane travel

As mentioned above, DO NOT FEEL like you can’t have these for your trip! Your body is the best expert of what works best for you, not anyone else. I’m simply providing some very symptom-based reasons for maybe not wanting to have certain foods on a plane.

Salty snacks

Since planes tend to dehydrate us as mentioned above, we wanna try and steer clear of any foods that contribute to this effect. Chips and other salty snacks – although delicious – can make us retain water which we don’t want. 

Of course a little here and there isn’t gonna make a huge difference, but maybe try and have them as part of a balanced snack with some fruit or another food on the recommended list above.

Alcohol

I know, I know. Possibly one of the #1 things you’re looking forward to on your trip, and no shame in that!! 

But alcohol is dehydrating and that’s the last thing you need with an already dehydrating plane ride. Plus, you’ll land feeling potentially drained and maybe even with a headache. 

That’s no way to start your gorgeous vaca! Skip the plane booze and wait until you’re at your destination to get the party started. It will probably be more satisfying that way anyways!

Fried foods, or foods high in fat

There is ALWAYS a time and place for some delicious fried food, a nice cheese plate or guacamole. 

However, these foods are high in fat which is digested the slowest out of the 3 macronutrients (carbs, protein and fat) which means they tend to sit in your stomach for longer. 

It could contribute to feelings of indigestion which is a bummer.

Coffee in excess

For my anxious travelers, consider switching to herbal tea or water before your flight as coffee of course can make you feel jittery. 

Garlic

Consider the 24 hours prior to your flight as garlic free and you’ll make anyone traveling with you a very happy camper! For some people, garlic REALLY stays on your breath and can be a bummer to those around you. 

Skin self-care tips for flying

I asked award winning licensed esthetician, brow and makeup artist JoJo Kampoures from Sarra salon in Boston to tell us exactly how to care for our skin during the flight. 

“Lots of Insta influencers recommend skincare like sheet masks and cream masks while flying but in my opinion that’s gross! The air on the plane is dry and recycled. I don’t care how fresh they say it is. 

The plane is a tin tube with lots of germs and environmental yuckies. The last thing I would do is expose my clean skin to that, and then trap the grossness in with my skincare.”

“Do what you need to do before leaving home for the airport and you’ll be fine.”

JoJo Kampoures

Comfort self-care tips for flying

IDK what this trend is of getting all doll’d up and wearing like, real clothes on the plane… But if that makes you feel great, then go for it! 

I personally prefer ONLY comfy clothes… 

Check out these 12 best travel outfits for some inspo!

As far as shoes are concerned… My advice is to wear birkensocks – aka birkenstocks (or slides!) with socks. 

In my opinion, it’s the best to travel in for 1.) taking shoes off at security purposes AND 2.) if you’re going somewhere warm, all you need to transition is to take the socks off!

Speaking of comfort, let’s talk about flying while fat…

(And here’s why I use the word fat.)

Unfortunately, airplanes are NOT size inclusive in the least bit. I know plenty of friends and clients who are forced to upgrade to expensive first class seating, use a seatbelt extender, or experience some other form of discrimination for simply flying while fat.

“When it comes to plus-size friendly airlines, the prize for most accommodating goes to Southwest, as they’re the only domestic airline with a Customer Of Size policy.” – Jackie Schwarz, dia.com.

Check out this post where people are speaking out about flying while fat and how important it is that airlines step up their game and provide INCLUSIVE seating for all bodies.

“The traveling industry should outfit planes to suit everybody’s needs without bigger people having to be embarrassed or uncomfortable.” – Mary Fran Donnelly. Agreed!

Lastly, don’t forget your…

I hope you have an AWESOME time wherever you’re headed! If you have wanderlust, check out my other blog posts all about Costa Rica and Greece! 

I still haven’t stopped talking about my dream island hopping vacation in Greece. I highly recommend you add it to your bucket list if you haven’t been yet! 

Happy and safe travels!

Blog Lexy Penney Nutritionist Boston Intuitive Eating

Hi, I’m Lexy!

I’m a Registered Dietitian, yoga teacher, & body image coach.

I help women make peace with food and built trust with their bodies so they can live the lives they desire and deserve.

Hop on my email list for your weekly dose of food freedom, body liberation and self-care!

Lexy Penney Nutritionist Boston Intuitive Eating

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