Stay Healthy on Flights to Hawaii

Stay Healthy on Flights to Hawaii With These 10 Tips

Sitting on a plane on flights to Hawaii, with 31 inches of seat pitch for 5 or more hours, isn’t a comfortable or necessarily healthy way to begin your Hawaii vacation. And the last thing you want is to feel exhausted or even worse, sick on arrival, for your long-awaited trip to Hawaii.

We’ve just updated our best suggestions for what to do before and during your flight to arrive in peak shape in Hawaii:

1. Reduce stress and get into a vacation state of mind one week before departure.

Get work projects and packing done early. Start your focus on Hawaii. Check Instagram and Google photos for ideas. We also do that by checking the weather where we are headed and looking at local events.

Regarding stress reduction, we’re guilty of not always being the best at it ourselves.

2. Boost your immune system 2-3 days prior to flight.

Taking a daily zinc tablet, probiotics, and vitamin c supplements may make a difference according to some health experts. Others swear by fresh juices. What do you do?

3. Stay calm on the day of travel.

We avoid stress at the airport by allowing extra time for getting to the airport, flight check-in, security lines, and maybe a visit to Starbucks. You can save time by paying for TSA Pre-Check and/or qualifying for an airline’s premium check-in.

4. Drink room temperature non-tap water on the plane.

Buy a bottle at the airport or bring an empty bottle and fill it at an airport water fountain before boarding. Drink more than the flight attendants will offer. Chilled water on the plane is allegedly not as good for you as warm water, according to health experts. Neither is the tap water on-board that is potentially polluted and is also used to make coffee and tea.

5. Reduce carbonated beverages and alcohol on board.

These just make dehydration matters worse. Tea is a better choice than coffee although the water may not be healthy.

6. Stretch your calves. Avoid DVT.

While moving around the plane is recommended to prevent the risk for DVT blood clots, it’s also good to stretch your calf muscles during the flight which can be done while sitting. The calf is often called your second heart and helps to pump blood to your lower extremities. For long flights, compression travel socks might not be a bad choice.

7. Keep an eye on your hands.

We’re already at increased risk of disease from the dry environment leading to cracked skin. It’s good to consider packing a small container of liquid hand cleaner or sanitizing wipes. We also use Clorox wipes to clean the tray, surface areas around the seat, and controls.

8. Eat less on the plane.

Even with those free meals and wine on Hawaiian Airlines and other carriers, you may want to consider eating at the airport or elsewhere before departure. While in the air, try to limit really cold foods. Fennel seeds are reputedly good for digestion. When packing snacks from home, we consider things including nuts, sandwiches, pasta, salads, and some sweets.

9. Hydrate skin.

Massage key sinus points on your face. Take a saline solution to spray inside your nose. Hydrate skin if so inclined.

10. N95 respirators.

We bought these ourselves and have tried using them after getting sick too many times following flights. We hear mixed reports on their effectiveness at preventing disease.

Please add your ideas below. We also want to thank Cheryl Yamamoto, a physician assistant, for her contributions to this article.

Updated 8/21/19.

20 thoughts on “Stay Healthy on Flights to Hawaii With These 10 Tips”

  1. WOW … all this advice cracks me up.

    I was a B-747 Captain, First Officer, and Second Officer for 24 years flying the Pacific routes. I was based in HNL and “on the road” 12-14 days/month for 24 years.

    I susbscribed to NONE of these “suggestions” … well, maybe drink more water out of a bottle … and I had to take extensive physicals 2 X year just to make sure I was “safe” to fly people and cargo all over the world.

    Good ideas you’ve presented — at least most of them — but some folks just need to “toughen up” a little instead of whining about each and every discomfort.


    Aloha …

  2. I made the mistake a directing an air vent directly on my head for 5 hours. Boy was I sick for a few weeks after I got home. Guess I dried out my sinuses and the bugs flocked in. Never again.

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