As much as I love to visit beautiful and exciting places, I most certainly do not enjoy the fatigue and discomfort that comes with traveling. I don’t know about you, but one of my biggest concerns about traveling is getting sick or my back going out.   Unless you are one of the lucky ones and travel first class in the luxury seats, the airlines I travel on usually offer some of the most uncomfortable seating out there. Sadly, airline travel has become a stressful and an entirely exhausting day or more. So, I put together some tips on how to stay well and avoid illness during travel.

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*COVID19: The airlines have taken considerable measures to ensure cleanliness and safety of all who fly during these challenging times of the pandemic. Please visit the appropriate airline to learn protocols and safety measures of the company you chose to fly with.

How to stay healthy while traveling

Flying can take a significant toll on the body

As a result of the air pressure changes alone, it can create the build up of gas in the body. Then consider the cramped surroundings, long sitting, and lack of movement can cause the build up of blood in the legs. As a result, this can possibly bring the onset of other health related issues. Oh, let’s not forget about dehydration as airlines are now offering less and less complimentary beverages and food.

The airline cabin conditions during travel

I mention smaller cramped seating areas now as the airlines continue to strive for improving profit margins, their customer service is on the decline. Surely, you’ve seen the most recent incidents as well with respect to customers being dragged down the isle on the plane, and the death of one passenger’s dog.

tips for staying healthy and avoiding illness on an airplane
The Cabin of inside an airplane.

The cabin environment and experience that the airlines have created today is one that is conducive to thriving viruses (Pre Covid). They are ones that you are more susceptible to viruses and airborne infections. Providing less oxygen and moisture, and more contamination; it’s a recipe for illnesses no doubt. With respect to airline travel; according to telegraph, you are nearly 100 times more likely to get sick. *COVID19: Airlines today have made significant changes to their policy protocols with respect to cleanliness and safety for all.

Germs on an airplane

The areas on the plane that you may not think matter when touching can be very highly contaminated with germs and bacteria. Areas such as the button on the tray table, the arm rest, seat pockets, and window shades can contain a bacteria that survive up to 96 hours.


The contaminated surfaces on the plane are not the only thing you should be concerned about. On board water served on the airplane can also be contaminated with bacteria. So now that I’ve got you frustrated and possibly not enthused about traveling again, there are several ways to improve your travel experience and how you feel while traveling. Here are a few ideas that I practice in preparation for my travel:

Travel tips for wellness during flight

Bring antibacterial hand gel. I use this on my hands every time I hear someone cough on the plane, and prior to eating any food. I bring sanitizer hand wipes to wipe down my entire seat, arm rests, food tray and handle.

How to stay healthy while traveling
  • Stay hydrated. Bring your own water bottle. I fill my bottle up after the security line and many airports actually have the filtered option at the drinking fountain – where you can fill your own bottle with filtered water.
  • Bring your own packed lunch or food. I pack a turkey sandwich or almond butter sandwich. Tortilla chips, almonds or walnuts, banana or apple. (It is more challenging with food sensitivities, but I am able to manage).
  • Use saline nose spray to keep moisture throughout your nasal cavity. To reduce risk of airborne illnesses.
  • Dress comfortable and wear comfortable shoes for example, sneakers. Another debatable topic is whether or not it is a bad idea to wear nylons or panty hose as they can be a fire hazard. However, some argue that it was recommended in the past that Airline staff wear hosiery as it reduces blood clots from occurring.  
  • So, with all these challenges to overcome as I board my next airline, I have a few things that I do to combat these risks and do my best to be prepared and ready to travel.
  • The days prior to your trip, it is a good idea to get sufficient amount of sleep. Having enough sleep will help your immune system be strong to help your body to stave off any foreign particles.

Fitness during the flight while traveling

One of the airlines has launched a wellness video series as part of on-board flight entertainment. Hawaiian Airlines offers these free videos for viewing during flight to help you stay well and experience a better flight so you can stay healthy at your destination.

The best exercises and breathing techniques for pre-flight, in-flight, and after flight travel are explained below.

Prepare for Pre-flight:   Deep Breathing
  • Stand tall * March in place:
    • Keep in control and continue for at least 30 seconds.
  • Heel raises: Perform this movement at a slow pace then hold for 5 seconds at the top, then slowly lower your heel back to the floor. Repeat and do at least 10 reps.
  • Standing twist * swing your arms around you back and forth.

While sitting:

  • Clinch and release your waist area.
  • Squeeze and release your glutes.
  • Sit tall and straight * deep breathing in and out
  • Shoulders rolls * gently roll shoulders forward, then back. Raise your arms as well.
  • Flexing your feet * raise feet and rotate in circles.
  • Inner / outer thigh * place flat hands on each side of inner thigh and hold while pushing your thighs inward as your hands force against. Then repeat with hands outside of each thigh and flex your thighs outward against your hands as they hold steady. Repeat.


  • Walking towards the bathroom. (Get up and walk if possible every 20 minutes).
  • While waiting for the bathroom, you can march in place, flex and stretch your feet, or slowly do standing twists.
After flight:

Continue to keep your body in motion once you have landed, and walk wherever you can. Once you have arrived at your destination, here are some stretches and movements that will help get the blood moving throughout your muscles and body again. Take a look at Wainani Arnold, Wainani Wellness Center, (

In summary

Although you may not end up being one of the lucky passengers flying in the comfortable luxurious first class section, your flying experience doesn’t have to be so bad. By planning, preparing, and implementing these healthy stretches, movements, and breathing techniques; your airline flight time can actually be part of the overall positive experience of your entire trip. I know my travel experience has improved immensely as a result of practicing these techniques and I’ve avoided getting sick numerous times, especially traveling during the winter months.



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  1. […] your travel. This includes pre-flight, during flight, and post flight. Read complete article here: How To Stay Well During Travel.  *Train Your Mind: Another technique I practice is I train my mind to think about what’s on the […]

  2. Awesome tips! Going to implement the very next time I fly. One idea I would add is to wear compression socks.

    1. Thank you Cynthia! Good idea – I will have to add that to the list.

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