Upcoming Flight? Take Off With These Healthy Travel Tips

I am a health nut, kale salads, almond milk and all. You know one of my guilty pleasures, though? Airplane food. It’s strange, I know, because I am a foodie, and there is little to be said for the processed, precooked meals that a flight attendant slides on to your tray.

While for curious reasons I do indulge in Delta’s “authentic regional dishes … with seasonal flair” for my transpacific flights between my first home in Minnesota and current home in Shenzhen, China, I do try to practice healthy habits on airplanes. As a frequent flier, I have developed a system of healthy travel tips that keeps me from feeling too kinked and bloated. Today, I’m sharing it with you!

What to do the day before a flight

This is when it is best to consider your food prep. I do believe in moderation, and so I will dig in to one of those in-flight meals from time to time, but altogether the amount of sodium and other additives in the food can lead to an upset stomach. In order to counteract the fatigue a long flight can lead to, it is important to feed your belly right.

McKel Hill, registered dietician and founder of Nutrition Stripped, has a number of tasty travel recipes which you can peruse on her “In-Flight Edition” blog post. I have some tahini and rice flour that I am trying to use up before I fly home for summer, and her Carrot Cake Tahini Pancakes are the perfect way to do that!

My grandma also always bakes me a batch of almond butter cookies for my flights back to China. They are the perfect snack (or meal paired with a whole fruit).

You will fall in love with this recipe:

  • 1 cup almond butter
  • ¾ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • And other goodies as you like: shredded coconut, crushed nuts, dried cranberries

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes.

In addition to packing food, I also travel with my S’well water bottle so that I can have the flight attendant fill it with water rather than using all of those plastic cups.

What to do when they start pre-boarding first class

Unless you are also flying in style (I am still saving up my miles to upgrade to those big seats some day), when the flight begins to board its business class, this is time to slip on your compression socks. Yes, those tight stockings that you used for your triathlon have a dual purpose.

I must admit that even at the ripe age of 35 I fear blood clots (though quite uncommon) and thus bought my first pair to stave off anxiety, but compression socks help keep foot and leg swelling down. They have been immensely helpful — paired with those home packed snacks — in keeping me in my skinny jeans the day after a flight. Travel and Leisure put together their top 10 favorite brands of compression socks and even houses the post in their “style” section. I’ll toast (with the complimentary cross continental wine) to tall polka dot socks.

What to do when you are sky high

I used to think that five hours was a long flight, when I was traveling frequently between the Ecuadorian Andes and Minnesota. And then China happened. I now log thirteen hour flights regularly; my legs are aching a bit considering the one I will boarding in five weeks.

There are ways to fight off stiff muscles, though. I am that woman who you will find doing squats on both sides of the aisle and as I wait for the bathroom. I make no apologies. Join my fitness flight club and do some calf raises with me! There are also a number of yoga poses you can do in your seat. Watch this myyogaworks video to learn more. You may also want to print out yogaeverywhere’sYoga While You Travel” pdf with small room standing poses, too. Perhaps best yet, check out “5 Yoga Poses for Frequent Fliers” on The Sweatworking App, my favorite fitness travel pal.


I used to approach flying with a dreaded sentiment, but I have figured out some of the keys to unlocking a more zen space. I hope you find these suggestions useful as well. Share your healthy travel tips with us in the comments below!

Travel Travel Tips

About Jamie Bacigalupo

Having first traveled from her hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, to live in Quito, Ecuador, she decided to give the East a run and is now a resident of Shenzhen, China. She earned her degree in Communication Arts/Literature and Communication and Secondary Education from Gustavus Adolphus College and is enthusiastically exploring Asia by teaching abroad. She digs hanging out with her students by weekday, and relishes finding new restaurants to eat authentic Chinese food and finding new hiking paths on the weekends. In addition to sticking her nose in a book to recover from an intense workday, Jamie also loves exploring all manner of flavors in the kitchen, especially when she is whipping up some recipes for her friends and family.