Even a short flight across your state can leave you feeling bloated, but when it's an international flight across the world and you're changing time zones...well, good luck. Luckily, there are ways to make the effects of flying a little less harsh.
You want to look and feel great at the start of your vacation right? Make that happen by following this advice (and do these things before you go abroad!):
Before your flight
Make sure you're drinking plenty of water.
Because of the elevation while flying, your body is going to want to retain water and staying hydrated really helps with that. You should aim to drink more than you usually do.
Don't eat foods that contain a lot of salt.
Eating a lot of salt is going to make you dehydrated (and you already know we want to avoid that!). Skip out on fast-food before you fly, as well as gassy foods like broccoli, beans, and carbonated drinks. Instead, plan on eating plenty of greens and high-quality protein before you fly.
Get plenty of rest.
I'll admit, the night before I left for my semester abroad I didn't sleep AT ALL. Part of that was excitement. Part of that was nerves. Part of that was because I was still packing until 2 AM (don't do that). But, if you can, do your best to get to bed early, taking a natural sleep aid if you need to.
Talk to your airline and see if you can choose your seat.
If you can, choose an aisle seat ... you can easily get out and walk around which can help you feel less cramped. If you want to rock the window seat, go for it, just know that you'll probably have to wake up your sleepy neighbor if you need to get up during your flight.
Choose a loose outfit to wear on your flight.
No matter how many precautions you take to lessen the effects, your body is going to bloat from the elevation. It's just science. It's a good idea to choose clothing that won't make you feel so uncomfortable when you do bloat up. Don't wear rings. Don't wear tight jeans. Don't wear tight shoes. Here's what I wear when flying.
During the flight
Move around a little
While the sleep is good, you will feel better if you move a little on those 10+ hour long flights. Moving around will help keep your fluids circulating and will help you avoid feeling incredibly stiff afterwards. Again, grabbing an aisle seat helps with this.
Get some rest
With that being said, it's also very important to rest on the flight. Plus, that helps pass the time anyways! I like to take a gentle natural sleep (like Gaba or Melatonin). Having a tough time snoozing in the sky? Use these tips.
Drink water on the plane
Lots of it. A general recommendation is to drink 4-8 oz of water every hour. I know in the past I've actually avoided drinking water on a plane because I knew the inevitable was going to happen and I did not want to keep running to the bathroom over and over during the flight. If you want to feel better after you arrive though, that's the exact opposite of what you should be doing. Drink water and it's fine if you have to keep getting up for the bathroom because you need to stretch your legs anyways!
Bring healthy snacks and eat less plane food.
If you're on a long flight, you're going to be served free meals. How nice right? Sorta. They usually aren't that great and are loaded with salt to help preserve the food ... and that salt will keep you bloated. I like to bring other snacks instead of solely relying on the food served to me.
After you arrive
If you've just taken an international flight, chances are you've significantly changed time zones. It might be night when you arrive, but day time back home. You could have lost an entire day! For me this is probably the biggest rule to follow but it is a pretty important one...
Immediately get on track with the time of day of the place that you have just landed in. If you land in the middle of the night but you're wide awake, try to get some sleep. If you arrive in the afternoon and all you want to do is take a nap - power through and don't sleep until that night. The quicker you can adjust to your new time zone, the quicker you'll get over jet lag.
There you have it! If you follow those tips for travelers you'll be looking and feeling less bloated and ready to take on your vacation or semester abroad! Enjoy it.
Have a couple of questions on how to travel abroad? We're here to help! International Language Programs (ILP for short) sends college-aged volunteers abroad to travel and make a difference all over the world.
If you think you'd love the chance to live in a foreign country and give back (while spending vacation days seeing even more of the world) send us a text!