It can be tough to stay hydrated when you’re stuck on an airplane for several hours. The low humidity level can lead to dehydration and skin issues, also making it harder for your body to fight off any viruses you are exposed to while traveling. Here are some tips on how to stay hydrated during even the longest of trips.
My job as an international flight attendant had me traveling on some of the longest flights in the world, so I know how difficult it can be to stay hydrated. I also know what it can do to your body if you don’t drink enough water on long trips, and it’s not fun. So here are some hydration tips for long-distance flights from someone who has spent hundreds of hours in the air.
Hydration Tip #1: Pre-Hydrate
It’s even harder to stay well-hydrated during a flight if you’re already dehydrated when you step onto the plane. Make sure that you’re drinking the recommended daily amount of water in the days leading up to your trip. This will also result in fewer lavatory breaks during the flight since your bladder will already be accustomed to the amount of water you’re ingesting.
If you struggle to drink enough water, there are many free apps to make it easier to remember to take regular sips and keep track of your water intake. My personal recommendations are Waterlogged for iPhone or WaterMinder for Android.
Hydration Tip #2: Pack A Water Bottle
We all know you can’t bring more than 100ml of liquids through airport security, but you can pack an empty bottle. This means that you won’t have to keep asking the flight attendants for small cups of water or buy expensive bottles onboard the aircraft. It’s recommended that adults consume about one liter of water for every 5 hours in the air so a 1-liter bottle is ideal for those longer trips.
I also recommend that you fill-up the bottle at the airport (after security, of course!) since the flight attendants will probably be quite busy with boarding and may not be able to help you right away. Remember never to fill up your water bottle with lavatory tap water – it’s not safe for drinking. If you need to refill on board just pop by the galley and ask the crew.
Although stainless steel bottles are wonderful for keeping water cold for long periods of time, they are often quite heavy and add extra weight to your baggage. I usually travel with a camelback because I love how light and durable they are. If you’re really short on space, consider bringing a collapsible water bottle.
Hydration Tip #3: Infuse Your Water
Most people would agree that water does not taste as good as sugary drinks. This can make it difficult to sip it regularly throughout a flight if more tempting options are available. To combat this, I started throwing some fruits and herbs into my water bottle before leaving for the airport, then adding water after security. Infused water tastes good and can also aid digestion, prevent bloating, and provide a boost of Vitamin C.
Citrus slices & mint leaves are a classic infusion that makes water taste refreshingly good. For a more unique twist try playing around with combinations of pineapple, raspberry, ginger, strawberry, orange, kiwi, apple, and cucumber. There are also special infusion water bottles you can buy that contain a built-in compartment to hold fruit and herbs.
Pro tip: Remember to dispose of any fruits before you exit the plane in case they are on the restricted list of the country you’re traveling to. I was once held up for nearly an hour at an Australian airport because I forgot there was a single lemon slice in my water bottle!
Hydration Tip #4: Pack Some Hydrating Foods
Celery, watermelon, cucumbers, and even strawberries are packed with water and vitamins, and are a great alternative to the salty snacks served onboard. If you want to level up your hydration game, bring your own meals. Food tastes blander at high altitudes, so many airlines add extra salt to their food to compensate for the loss of flavour. This extra sodium can make it even harder to stay hydrated.
Make sure to check what you’re allowed to bring into the country – if your snacks are on the prohibited list, make sure you finish or dispose of them before you exit the plane.
Pro Tip: Pack some ready-made meals into a collapsible storage container to save space when it’s empty.
Hydration Tip #5: Limit Alcohol
You already know that alcohol dehydrates you. If you can avoid consuming alcohol on your flight, do it. It’s better for you. But if you’re on vacation and want to unwind a bit, try to at least limit the amount you’re drinking, and match every drink with an extra cup of water. I personally like a glass or two of wine when I’m traveling as a passenger, but I try to drink a sip of water with each sip of wine.
There are ways to slightly reduce the dehydrating effects of alcohol. Turn a glass of wine into a refreshing spritzer by adding some club soda and a citrus wedge or splash of fruit juice. For those who enjoy whisky or gin, a bit of still or sparkling water can often enhance the flavour of the liquor. If you’re keen for a cocktail, soda water or coconut water are good mixers, as well as green tea and low-sugar juices.
Pro tip: Pick up your cocktail mixers at an airport newsstand or food kiosk prior to boarding since the selection on board will be limited.
Hydration Tip #6: Moisturize
Hydrating your body from the inside out is extremely important, but don’t neglect your skin. Facial moisturizer, hand cream, and lip balm are in-flight essentials that should always be in a convenient spot during long flights.
My “holy grail” moisturizing routine is Cerave moisturizer applied to damp skin and topped with a thin layer of vaseline to lock in the moisture. Although I use extra hydrating products like hyaluronic acid and polyglutamic acid in my regular skincare routine, I would avoid using them on flights since there is not enough moisture in the air to make them beneficial.
During long flights, I regularly refresh my skin with a spritz of facial mist and top with moisturizer. Evian makes a nice travel-sized bottle that you can pack with your toiletries, or you can make your own with a 1:3 ratio of rose water to distilled water.
Remember to always try a new product well in advance of your flight to make sure it works for your skin. You do not want to have a reaction when you’re 37,000 ft in the air!
Hydration Tip #7: Try A Hydration Supplement
There are a few brands that offer effervescent “travel recovery” tablets which are easily dissolved in water and contain vitamins and minerals that help prevent dehydration, jet lag and even deep-vein thrombosis. 1Above and Phizz are both travel-specific brands that I have personally tried and can vouch for. There are also brands like Hydralyte that offer rehydration products you can pick up at your local drugstore.
Remember that hydration supplements should not be used in lieu of drinking actual water. They are, however, an option worth considering if you feel like you need a bit of extra hydration.
Hydration Tip #8: Book An Aisle Seat
Unfortunately, the more water you drink on board, the more often you’ll have to pee. Booking an aisle seat will save you the trouble of asking your seatmates to move every time you need to go. It also helps to sit within view of the lavatory so you can quickly grab it when it’s vacant. You don’t want to give yourself a reason not to drink the amount of water you need to stay hydrated.
Pro Tip: I suggest downloading the app for the airline you’re flying, since many offer the ability to choose or change your seats in advance. The Seat Alerts app by ExpertFlyer is also a great way to see which seats are available when booking a flight, and you can even get notifications if the seat you want becomes available. It’s free for iPhone (unfortunately it is no longer available for Android phones).
Hydration Tip #9: Re-Hydrate
Once you get to your hotel, there are several things you can do to re-hydrate your skin and pamper yourself at the same time:
• Fill your sink with hot water and steam your face for 5-10 minutes.
• Pack a travel-sized humidifier to plug in next to your bed and help moisturize the air while you sleep.
• Spa gloves and socks can help moisturize dry hands and feet. I always travelled with a set of them when flying and kept them on moisturized skin for about 20-30 mins.
• There are tons of moisturizing facial masks on the market that can help bring back moisture to dry skin. Look for products with hyaluronic acid but keep in mind that this ingredient works best in humid environments, so if you’re in a dry place, consider the travel humidifier option as well.
Ready for your trip?
I’ve created a printable travel planner that is designed to help make trip planning a breeze. This 7-page PDF has spots to fill in hotel and flight details, emergency info, must-do activities and more. It is available as an instant digital download in the Onwards + Upwards shop.
I’ve also written a guide on how to stay safe and healthy in your hotel when traveling solo. It details some of the questions you should ask before booking and a few things you should check when you check into your room.