Nonstop Awesomeness on Airplanes: 8 Tips for a Healthier Experience

Nathan on a Plane

Over the last 3+ years of digital nomadism, I’ve taken quite a number of flights—probably around 50. I’ve definitely picked up and learned some ideas along the way and wanted to share what I’ve discovered to help you feel better, look better, and de-stress!

Plus, with the holiday season upon us, you might be using this sooner than later.

Apparently, I wrote this back in March when flying from Sayulita to Montreal! Just found it the other day in Evernote, cleaned it up and shipped! Fitting that I’m BACK in Sayulita now that I’m publishing. :)

Healthy travels out there!


1) Drink Plenty of Water

Yes, a bit of an obvious one, so I’ll stat with it here.

With all the moving around, it’s easy to get dehydrated. While waiting for your flight or while onboard, buy a bottle of water—or better yet, bring your own container (needs to be empty for security) and then fill it up at a restaurant.

Do your best to steer clear of alcohol as that could dehydrate you further, leaving you less than stellar later on; and of course, most sodas are full of sugar, resulting in energy peaks and crashes.


2) Pack Your Own Food

Apples, bananas, oranges, avocados, celery—even make a  salad!

Flying domestically (within one country), you can usually bring whatever you want; on international flights, you can usually bring food onboard, but just not into the next country.

If the produce has a sticker on it (documents the country of origin), you might be ok; if it’s chopped up, even better.

If you end up at your destination and still have food, I would *never* be openly advocating to just say you don’t have any with you (and surely not to have it in a jacket pocket), and to play dumb if they find it (“oh, shoot, I forgot”).

Yes, there are the silly 3 oz liquid rules, but that won’t stop you from packing a salad! Add a light dressing of fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juice with himalayan pink salt and black pepper; or mash avocado and strawberries together.


2a: If you have to buy stuff at the airport, look for…

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables, etc. (fruit cups, no added sugar)
  • Prepared/cooked vegetables
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds

Most food in airports (restaurants and on the plane) have TONS of refined foods and carbs—just filled with junk—be sure to read labels.


3) Exercise

Walk up and down the aisle at least twice per hour: take 2-3 minutes

On your walk, at the galley for the flight attendants/bathrooms (or another spacious area): do some squats, calf raises, stretching arms, back, chest, hip archs: 5-10 minutes

While seated, flex your calfs and ankles: 2-3 minutes


4) Super Positive Attitude

It’s the ol’ game of “hurry up and wait.”

When you encounter (because if you travel enough, you surely will) long lines, delays, cancelled flights, less-than-stellar service, angry or hostile airport staff, just keep your smile and your cool as long as you can.

Chances are, if you do interact with airline staff, they’ll be grateful that you’re not one of the many other angry passengers—and you might even get a perk if they have something to offer, which leads me to my next point…


5) Always Ask

The worst they can say is No, right?

Cancelled flight? Lost baggage? Delays? In-flight entertainment not working? There may not be much the staff at the moment can do, but call the customer service number and explain the situation. Stay positive, and let them know how the experience affected your trip and how it might affect your decision to use that carrier again.

Most people will just openly gripe about a situation, but few will actually take the time to follow up on it. If you’re a pleasure to deal with and—this is SUPER important—you don’t act entitled, then you might even wind up with a hotel, meal, or flight voucher.


6) Give Yourself Enough Time

There can be LOTS to navigate at the airport: subways, buses, security lines, customs, gates. Plan accordingly.

For domestic flights, shoot for 90 minutes before your departure time, and for international flights, arrive 2-2 1/2 hours early (or earlier if there are many in your party and/or you are checking bags).

This way, you’re not rushing or stressing, ’cause where’s the fun in that?!


7) Bring Less Than You Think

How often do you use *everything* in your bag? Did you really wear (or even need) each shirt you brought? I’m still carrying (very small) items that I haven’t needed in the 3+ years I’ve been on the road.

Even with a long-term trip, see how you might be able to reuse clothing options and make things a bit more versatile. If you can get away with just carry-on bags, even better. You can just stroll right from the plane to outside the airport!

I absolutely believe that any able-bodied traveler should be able to carry all of his/her baggage while also running for a bus! :)

The general rule of thumb is to only pack your bags to 75% full, because you always end up having more on the way home.

Even I have trouble sticking to that number, so know what I did? I deliberately bought a small backpack—that forced me to take less.


8) Actually Talk to the Person Next to You

It’s so easy to just tune out and put all our attention on the in-flight movies, a book we’re reading, or work we want to do.

I’m not saying you’ll find a soulmate and have a 4-hour conversation, but at least taking the time to say hello and introduce yourself can go a long way to making the flight a little more pleasant.

And who knows? You might make an amazing contact or new friend! At least for my money, connecting with others is what it’s all about. All the great creative work or money in the world doesn’t matter if I never share it. As humans, we thrive on connection.


Bonus Pro Tip!

Make friends with the airline attendants.

As you stretch your legs (see #3), go back, get some water, and talk to them. Having these folks as allies might just make your trip that much easier and more enjoyable. Plus – you’re being social and passing the time!



Remember: if something challenging happens on your trip, you probably won’t be thinking about it a year from now. So don’t take it (or yourself) too seriously. As Bob Marley said, “don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing is gonna be alright…”


So what are some of YOUR favorite airplane tips for a healthier experience? Drop a note in the comment!

I’d love to hear your response + any other thoughts you have below.


From Sayulita, Mexico…




Former life: actor/office worker/virtual assistant; lived in Los Angeles for 11 years. Since then: sold nearly everything, took a $5 flight to Hawaii, lived there for 3 months, wrote an eGuide about all of it, and still traveling. Currently: digital nomad - looking to improve myself, have fun and serve others.