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What to pack for Staying well

I use to always get a cold or flu every time I flew. I then learned some ideas from a frequent traveler. I start hydrating before I get on the plane and take extra vitamin c and echinacea in the days before the trip. As soon as I am in my seat, I wipe down everything with anti bacterial wipes: the seat belt, the tray, the arm rests. Even more importantly, I use a saline nasal spray before getting on the plane and again a couple times on board to keep the nasal passages less able to harbor the particles of whatever is recycling through the planes stale air system. BUT my question is that I have no idea about how to deal with jet lag. I would appreciate any ideas that have worked well for others. I would like to hit the ground running!

Posted by
2765 posts

Jet lag - everyone has their own formula. Mine is simply to mentally set my clock to European time as soon as I go to the airport. So I never think about home time and get myself confused. Lots of water and no alchohol on the plane, and sleep if possible. Then when I land I make a point to stay outside, or at least walking around until at least 8PM. No alcohol, light meals at local times. It's usually a rough day for me, and I don't often enjoy what I'm seeing. But then I get to my hotel and go to sleep at 8PM and I sleep all the way to the next morning in time for breakfast and I'm on my way 100%. I've learned to not have anything important on arrival day, and to not count it as a day in the city. I'd rather do this than be half-jet lagged for several days.

I don't usually get sick from flying, so I don't worry too much about germs on planes beyond basic hygine. I do drink a lot of water and orange juice. I love a good glass or three of wine, but never on a plane. I get motion sickness and even 1 drink can make mild turbulance into a problem, plus alcohol is a problem for keeping hydrated. What I do is try to be healthy for the few days before - nutritious foods, lots of water, keep myself feeling good before even getting on the plane.

Posted by
506 posts

I too try and wash my hands regularly. Seems like we have stayed healthier by doing that and wiping our seats and area down when flying. Clorox has some wipes in the travel section of Target that are easy to carry. Other wise I have gotten sick more when under too much stress on a trip. So we try not to over pack a vacation so we can get some rest too. I don't know what to say about Jet Lag except to get outside, seems like sun light helps. I am a very touchy sleeper so it doesn't work for me to shift my sleeping times. But if you can do that it probably would help. Other wise when you get there and when you get home try and get some good sun light.

Posted by
948 posts

Jet lag seems to affect everyone differently, so there is no one answer. For me, I try to go to bed early the night before the trip. I cannot sleep on the plane no matter what I try. I'm sure sleeping would help, I just can't make it happen. The day I arrive I try to stay up the whole day even though I am tired. I usually will use this day to check out the area around my hotel, go out for dinner and maybe another evening walk. I then go to bed around 8:30 or 9 and wake up at a normal time the next morning. I'm usually good the second day. Some people like to take a nap the day they arrive. If I do this it makes me not sleep that night. It's just one of those things that works for some but not others.

Posted by
3513 posts

I think there's a lot to the part about sunlight and jet lag. We spent 3 weeks in Ireland, France, Amsterdam in June and July and I did not feel jet lagged at all. I think the fact that the light came streaming through the shades starting at 5 AM in Northern Europe had a lot to do with it!

Posted by
3493 posts

I am another one of those who cannot sleep on a plane. There is just too much activity and noise. I nap, but never for more than a few minutes.

What works for me with jet lag is to sleep just as soon as possible once I reach my destination. First, I choose the flights that will get me to Europe as early in the morning local time as possible. Many airports in Europe have on premise hotels that allow travelers to sleep by the hour (Yotel in LHR is one of my favorites these days having just been there last week). I get 3 - 4 hours of fairly restful sleep and then am refreshed and ready for some quick site seeing or an onward flight and usually have no issues feeling tired. This approach also lets me avoid early morning rush hour if I am arriving on a work day.

Posted by
2448 posts

Some pretty sound advice here. Would only add that after years of not being able to sleep on airplanes someone suggested Ambien to me and, in our case anyway, it's been a godsend. We take one (actually half of one) after takeoff and settle in for a good 4-6 hour nap. The quality of the sleep is good, ie no drug hangover upon waking up, but I've been told that results vary depending upon individual blood chemistry. Should try it once at home to ensure that it works for you. That, plus a wraparound neck pillow, scalloped eye shades (to keep direct pressure off the eyes) and some compression socks and we're good to go.

Also, although we hardly ever have any issues with catching colds, etc. we do make it a point to bring along some basic cold meds just in case - nothing worse than feeling crummy on travel and then having to search out a pharmacy when you'd rather be in bed.

Posted by
7356 posts

What Mira said. You have to re-set your body's clocks. Eating and drinking on your normal timeframe confuses your body.

Posted by
207 posts

I rarely ever get sick and other than washing hands and using a fresh wipe that is about all I do on a plane. As far as jet lag, I have a watch with 3 time zones on it and always turn it to Paris time a soon as the plane takes off. Rest good the day before if possible and check and change your planes seating status if possible. Check to see if there are any seats that are vacant that have a vacant seat next to it. Makes a difference to have a little extra room. My last flight over I had basically had two seats which was great. As soon as dinner is over, look at your watch that is already set for Europe. It will probably be midnight or later. Then try to sleep for a few hours. Next trip, I will also have a set of good ear phones that will take care of engine and cabin noise. When you hit the ground, just stay outside as much as possible, early to bed the first night and don't sleep late the next day. I have never had a problem going over with jet lag as I am always so excited to be there. Mine hits big time for 3 days after returning.

Posted by
51 posts

WOW! Thanks everyone for really good info. I'm sure excitement will also help get over the jet lag on the trip over. Think I will just plan to take a 3 day stay-cation when I return. Thanks!!

Posted by
11045 posts

I hope your "stay-cation" does not include doing laundry for 3 days, lol!!

In addition to your precautions I also took Airborne fizzy tabs along on my last trip which was 8 weeks. I have no idea if they work or if they just provide a psychological advantage!! I also use a neti pot daily at home to rinse out my nose and I continue that practice on vacation as well. I feel that does help decrease the incidences of colds.

For jet lag, I actually did something last time that is not recommended. I got to my hotel in London mid-afternoon in the rain and wound up taking a nap then actually sleeping the night thru. I woke up ready to go and did not have any jet-lag. I don't usually try to see anything of consequence the first afternoon anyway! Flying from North Idaho usually means some long layovers to get to an international hub.

We had a long thread a year or so ago about the merits or non-merits of wiping down the seat area. I am on the wiping down side of the discussion and I do try to remember to do it especially after I saw a parent sit a toddler in a nasty diaper on a tray table. It was on a Eurostar run from London to Brussels but after seeing that I am acutely aware of general yuckiness!

Do you buy your nasal spray after you get thru security or do you purchase ahead and put in your 3-1-1?

Posted by
51 posts

Airborne and wipes cannot hurt, so why not just in case. Neti pots are great, but for travel I cram the nasal spray into my 3-1-1. I'm amazed at what I can get in there. Also noted on recent trip to Mexico that TSA doesn't seem that interested any longer.....but that might have been before they flunked their recent test of missing 55 out of 60 fire arms in carry-ons. Yes, I too have the lay overs flying from So. Oregon. Thank you for your thoughts, think I like your napping into & through the night idea best. Many years ago, we napped in our clothes one afternoon, setting the alarm for an 8 pm walking town tour and slept through the alarm waking in the morning. Laundry on return? heck no....won't want to see those clothes again for weeks or months!!!