Stay Hydrated while Traveling

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Airplane travel – ay yi yi! You wake up, race to finish packing and rush out the door without breakfast or even a drink of water. At the airport, you refuse to pay $3 for .5L bottle of water. You hate using the airplane toilet anyway, so you’ll just wait until you get to your destination before you drink anything. By the time you land, you’re tired, grumpy, a little nauseous, your head hurts, your throat hurts and you feel like your eyeballs are made of sand paper. You might even find yourself sick or suffering from severe jet lag. Ugh, flying sucks!

Does this sound like you?

As an academic, I travel frequently for conferences and other events in addition to personal trips. I don’t like long trips, and flying is the worst (see above – that’s me sometimes). I’m currently en route to Milan, Italy for business (yay, business! lol ). It’s going to be a very long trip, complete with jet lag, a huge time difference, and a research presentation that I have to give the day after I arrive. With all that in mind, here are some tips I’d like to share for staying hydrated while traveling:

BYOB (Bring your own bottle) – the easiest way to stay hydrated is to carry your own refillable water bottle. This will also save you from paying the inflated airport prices for bottled water. Wait until you get to the airport to fill it up at a water fountain, unless you’re sure you can drink it all before you get to security.

Limit coffee, “spicy tomato” juice and spirits – If you must have them, drink more water to compensate. Although liquids, coffee and spirits will actually dehydrate your body due to the caffeine and alcohol content (Alcohol Hangover). If you are a regular coffee drinker, one or two cups should be okay (Caffeine ingestion and fluid balance: a review). Otherwise, the caffeine can be a diuretic and will cause you to eliminate more water. Additionally, if you’re not adequately hydrated, your blood sodium levels may already be elevated. Drinking high-sodium beverages like Bloody Mary Mix (often referred to as “spicy tomato juice”) can further elevate your sodium levels, potentially resulting in bloat from water retention (not the kind we want!) and high blood pressure (High sodium-low potassium environment and hypertension).

Go pee and drink again – Drink water before your flight,  during the flight and immediately after. If your water bottle’s empty, ask the flight attendant for more. Do not limit yourself because you don’t want to use the airplane toilet. Get up and go pee – the walk will be good for you anyway, to keep the blood circulating in your legs and avoid the potential risk for blood clots on longer flights (Blood Clots and Travel: What You Need to Know). Although if you’re a frequent “go-er” like I am, you might want to get an aisle seat so you don’t piss off your neighbor.

Moisturize your lips and skin – Even if you’re adequately hydrated, your skin may dry out due to the dry air on the plane. Bring travel size lotion and lip balm to keep them moist.

Do any of these tips work for you? Do you have any other air travel tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

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