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Long Flights – Staying Healthy on Extended Flights #travel

Long flights can be intimidating. For some people, they’re annoying. Still others just adjust the seat back and sleep or take the time to read. Whatever long flights mean to you personally, there’s one thing that they mean to everyone. Possible health concerns. A lot of people don’t think of this, but sitting for such a long period of time can open you up to all kinds of health issues ranging from uncomfortable to deadly.


How to Mitigate the Health Effects of Long Flights

There are a few things you can do to help stay healthy on extended plane trips. I recently took a flight to Zambia, and it was the longest flight I’ve ever taken so I researched before I left. And I learned a few things along the way on the 15 hour flight, two hour van ride and two hours to New York to meet up with my companions. By doing a few simple things, you can make sure you stay healthy and comfortable on those extra long plane trips that we sometimes have to take.

Walk Around

Moving is crucial to staying healthy on these types of flights. Get up and walk around. The change in pressure coupled with the extended seated time can cause blood clots to form. These can be deadly if they break off and enter the lungs. So get up and walk around every hour. Keeping the blood moving is key to preventing clots. And invest in a good pair of compression stockings. I scoffed at these until the flight to Zambia and ended up buying a pair at the airport just before boarding. They were like a small massage for my legs most of the way there. Best investment yet. Compression stockings are made with tighter elastic which creates a gently pressure from your ankles up and lowers the potential for edema, or deep vein thrombosis.


Chew Gum

While the whole ear popping thing isn’t dangerous, it certainly hurts! Chewing gum can help keep the ear popping to a minimum, which means minimum pain. In addition to that, the constant chewing can help you release stress if you’re a nervous flyer. Keep mints, or cough candies or something to suck on if your throat gets dry and you need to stifle a cough.

Plenty of Liquids

It’s so important to stay hydrated. This is true of flying and life in general. Staying hydrated helps every aspect of our health, and it can be especially helpful on long flights. That’s because staying hydrated can help keep your mood steady, your body in tip top shape, and more importantly promote a body that is less prone to clots. A hydrated body is a healthier body. Flights and airports are excruciatingly drying to your system. You need the extra water so ask for it and drink up.

Keep the Stress Low

If you’re a stressed out flyer, long flights are not going to be your bag. Heck, even some seasoned flyers hate extended flights. That being said, you have to do everything you can to keep your stress level low. High stress can lead to increase blood pressure, which you don’t need on top of the drastic pressure changes of flight and the possibility of clots.

Be sure to bring along your favorite music, book, or the like. You need something to distract yourself from the flight, or at least keep your thoughts on the flight to a minimum. Watch a movie, relax with a good book. Bring your KOBO or your Kindle and make some time for sleep as well. No use being completely exhausted when you get to your destination.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you have ANY sort of medical condition, talk with your doctor before going on an extended flight. This is especially important if you are already prone to blood clotting. When it comes to long flights and your health, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Long Flights – Doing Your Best to Be Healthy

Long flights can be stressful. They can even be dangerous. These tips can help you have less stress and less chance of medical complications during a long flight. However, always check with your physician before taking any long flights. It’s important to be safe when it comes to long flights, so be smart and have fun!

What’s the longest flight you were ever on?

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • Robin Masshole Mommy

    I never drink on flights because I HATE using the bathroom on planes. I usually don’t drink all day, which I pay for with a major dehydration headache that night.

  • Shirley Wood

    I love flying but not for long. The last time I flew, it was a short flight and the person next to me had to put on compression stockings for the flight as per her doctors instructions. Many people don’t realize the health concerns involved with long flights. This is great info.

  • Alli Smith

    I always have a purse full of gum whenever I fly. My longest flight was to Israel and I made sure to get up and walk around and do ankle rolls, etc. while seated. These are all great ways to stay healthy on an extended flight.

  • Jeanette

    We just came back from south Africa which was almost a 24 hour flight. I actually followed everything you mentioned above. I really liked walking around stretching my legs it felt so much better to stand up than to sit.

    • Paula

      When we came back from Zambia we first went to South Africa and then back to Toronto and that was a good 21 hours. It seemed like forever.

  • Pam Wattenbarger

    Flights can be so rough on your health and body. These are great ways to stay healthy, especially drinking lots of liquids.

  • lisa

    I’ve never had to fly longer than 8 hours before, but I imagine how taxing it is on your body. These are all great tips for long flights.

  • Jennifer

    I do a lot of travelling so these are things I have also learned over the years. Moving around when you can is so important or the trip seems 10x longer.

  • Rebecca Swenor

    These are all great tips for staying healthy on long flights. I don’t fly hardly at all but this is great information for those that do. It is so important to walk around when flying because it gets blood flow going in your legs and less chance of blot clots. Drinking plenty of water is so important so you stay hydrated and it will make you get up and go to the lantern too. Thanks for sharing the tips.

  • Bonnie @wemake7

    These are great tips. I have never been on a plane and probably never will but If I ever do I’ll remember your tips.

  • Lisa Favre

    I once went a very long flight and did not take any precautionary measures to stay healthy while up in the air for so long. It really took a toll on my skin and also my limbs (I should have walked around a little, as you suggested).

  • Anosa

    My longest flights are when I go to South Korea on my annual visit there and it takes just under 18 hours and I love it.
    My home country Zambia takes me 10-12 hours and doesn’t even both me now. Great tips