I can’t believe it took me so long to figure this out, but after the gazillionth time, getting off an airplane, feeling strung out, dehydrated, stiff and somehow, exhausted, bloated and starving at the same time, I came up with a plan.
Whenever we fly (we, being our family of four – kids included) we follow the steps below, which, overall, lead to a more pleasant travel experience. Of course, some extreme travel will dictate different needs or if you are traveling for work you have some luxuries that families traveling with kids don’t have. But trust me, I’ve been there. I bought that sandwich on the plane, and yes maybe my kids kinda enjoyed it, but when the bread consistency feels like gum and the cheese looks like melted plastic…. well, you wish you had tried a bit harder and planned ahead.
Small caveat with the food suggestions – these are a lot easier to handle coming from your own house, but have been tested coming back too!
Here are my steps to feeling fresher, better and more limber post flight:
Step 1 – Plan ahead! Yes, life is hectic, but chances are you’ve booked your ticket at least two weeks in advance and you packed your stuff the night before, so really, why can’t you think through a couple more items on the checklist?
Step 2 – Water, water and more water. Start the hydration process the day before and be conscious of what beverages you are consuming. Go ahead and purchase a liter of bottled water at the airport. Whenever the flight attendants pass by offering water – take it, drink it, don’t overthink it 🙂
Step 3 – Think ahead about food – here’s what works for us. There are at least two meals we like to plan for. Let’s say it’s breakfast before you get on the plane and lunch:
Breakfast – As tempting as it is to get an enormous cup of coffee – don’t. You’ll end up dehydrated and having to visit the bathroom multiple times, which, if you are traveling with small children is not easy (neither is holding a cup of coffee, little hands and multiple pieces of luggage all at the same time). It’s not really going to help you feel that great. Instead have some protein and fiber. For example, we bring hard boiled eggs (can be a disposable container) and bananas with us to the airport (yes we even pack that peanut butter in pouches sometimes! Thanks Justin’s), then at the airport we grab a little Starbucks coffee, as well as their oatmeal. The whole family enjoys a healthy, satisfying breakfast, once we’ve gone through security.
Lunch – Yes, this involves packing a small (preferably collapsable cooler). Pack chicken or cold cuts (a protein of your choice), carrots/celery (or any veggies), hummus/pesto or another dip, bread /wraps or lettuce leaves, cheese sticks or Babybel and a whole avocado. This is such a delicious lunch; it won’t leave you feeling bloated, but good and energized. All the foods are finger foods and the cooler conveniently collapses and can be stored in your suitcase (and reused on the trip back or even during your trip).
You should also think about a snack or potential delays. It’s easy to throw together your own trail mix (again choose lightly salted/unsalted nuts) and make it fun for the kids – have them choose to add pretzels or animal crackers, raisins or even M&M’s if you are feeling nice (we always do!). Pack an apple or mandarin oranges – they travel fairly well. I always throw in several extra Kind, Lara or ClifBar to have on hand. Oh yes, if you can, make the kids carry their own snacks.
Step 4 – Get Moving! Two places to think about here – at the airport or in flight and wherever your destination may be.
People may look at you funny, but they really don’t care and you shouldn’t either. If you don’t have a child handy to squat with, at least make sure to walk around the airport and stretch out. And if you’re not in fancy clothes, no reason why you can’t bust out some incline push-ups and squats or walking lunges. It feels good to get the blood flowing and it will make you happier, too! My rule on the actual flight, get up once every hour and walk to the back. It’s fairly easy to sneak in 10 squats, 10 lunges, maybe even incline push-ups. Again, do some dynamic stretches to get that blood circulating and you will feel better.
At your destination – If you are visiting friends, plan to walk around to take in the sights, plan to meet for a workout and plan to sneak in a quick workout at the hotel. This is fairly easy to do when you are exploring a new city – there’s always a walking tour, a hike, a botanical garden, a clock tower to climb or something similar.
Remember that your body will thank you for stretching out or getting a massage after all that walking around. Or even warming up before you head out for the day with a few push-ups, yoga poses or a short pilates routine. Here are some more quick tips from the American College of Sports Medicine
When I traveled for work a lot, I loved taking a quick run around the city where I was visiting, and you’d always find me at the gym doing a quick circuit – 20 minutes tops. If you’re at a loss for something, I’ve come up with this little gem for you – I call it the Century Club:
- The Pilates 100
- 100 Jumping Jacks
- 100 Squats
- 100 Push-Ups
- 100 Lunges
- 100 Swimmers
Finally, if you don’t get to it, don’t stress about it! Enjoy the rest and different pace and (hopefully) delicious cuisine.
Safe and happy travels to all!
All opinions are my own; all product mentions are of my own choosing.