Food Babe Travel Essentials – No Reason to Panic on the Plane!

I’m on the plane to LAX, the first leg en route to our first stop – Tokyo! I can’t think of a better time or place to write this article.

Airplane travel, is unfortunately (and fortunately!) a big part of my way of life. I’d be surprised if you added up the amount of travel I have conducted for work and personal if it didn’t end up being a full year of my life. For this reason, I set out to find out exactly the best strategies to keep your body energized, free of aliments, and flying high when you are on the bird!

A few facts about what airplanes do to your body -

When your body is in the air, at a seriously high altitude, your body under goes some serious pressure. Just think about it – Airplanes thrive in places we don’t. You are traveling in a pressurized cabin, and when your body is pressurized, it gets really compressed!

Compression leads to all sorts of issues. First off your body’s digestive organs start to shrink, taxing your ability to digest large quantities of food. Secondly, this compression reduces the ability for your body to normally circulate blood through your blood vessels. Sitting down for long hours while this is happening, exacerbates these issues, leading to what they call “Economy Class Syndrome.” Economy Class Syndrome results the action of sitting in a cramped space for a long period of time, thus resulting in blood flow loss to the legs. A unhealthy person or someone who eats a poor diet, smokes, has heart disease, diabetes or an auto-immune disorder has a larger risk of developing DVT, which basically causes a blood clot in your one of your large veins in your leg and you risk death.

Additionally, the pressurized cabin reduces the humidity by 40% of what humans typically thrive at. The Sahara Desert has more humidity at ~25% than your airplane does at ~10%. Remember your body is made up of 50% water, if the humidity is reduced by 40%, your body becomes very dehydrated, very quickly and usually without you feeling the effects until after you get off the plane. Dehydration causes all sorts of issues from fatigue, headaches, constipation, light headedness and even death in extreme cases.

The air you are breathing on an airplane is recycled from directly outside of your window. That means you are breathing everything that the airplanes gives off and is flying through. The air that is pumped in isn’t pure oxygen either, it’s mixed with nitrogen, sometimes almost at 50%. To pump a greater amount of oxygen in costs money in terms of fuel and the airlines know this! The nitrogen may affect the times and dosages of medications, make you feel bloated and cause your ankles and joints swell.

Did you know certain countries require that airplanes and even passengers be sprayed with pesticide before they take off? This means if you are visiting one of these countries you are breathing in these fumes potentially all flight, especially if they were sprayed on board. Horrific!

Ok enough horror facts about airplane travel (especially while I am flying right now!)…Here’s my Food Babe tips on what you can do to avoid and/or protect yourself of all the facts I mentioned above.


Food Babe’s Tips: First Class Airplane Tips for your Body


Before you Fly:

  1. Choose a seat as close to the front as possible. Pilots control the amount of airflow and it is is always better in their cabin.
  2. Eat a light meal or fast, it is better to digest as much of your food as possible before getting on the plane
  3. Exercise! You reduce your risk of developing DVT dramatically and you will also improve your body’s circulation ability
  4. Drink at least 16 ounces of water before your flight, and limit alcohol and caffeine
  5. Bring your own food. Airport and airplane food is overly processed and contains more GMO, pesticides, MSG, and chemicals than can make your head spin! Bring circulation enhancing foods! Some great ones that are easy to travel with are dark chocolate, blueberries, grapes, oranges, avocados, ginger, and pumpkin seeds.
  6. Don’t forget to pack an empty water bottle to be filled at the airport, or to buy water before your flight. I like to bring at least 32 ounces of extra water with me on any flight.
    I can’t tell you how many times the airlines have been stingy giving me water (even in First Class!)
  7. Ask your Acupuncturist or Nauropath for herbs that can help prevent you from contracting colds, flus and other viruses through the recycled air
  8. The following two things are a must for international flights! Moisturizer and a little spray bottle of evian spritzer can do wonders in rehydrating your skin on long flights.

In Flight:

  1. Drink 8 ounces of water for every hour of flying time
  2. If you experience a headache, pains or aches, think about using turmeric, garlic or willow bark which are all natural alternatives to aspirin
  3. Fast or eat small light carbohydrate rich whole foods. Limit any heavy dairy or protein rich foods. Whole grain carbohydrates are better tolerated than proteins at a high altitude.
  4. Do not drink alcohol or caffeine on long flights
  5. Walk or stretch every 30 mins while in flight, if you can’t get up from your seat, rotate your ankles and raise your arms over your head to stretch
  6. Keep your hands clean with natural hand sanitizer spray and avoid touching your face as much as possible
  7. Don’t forget to take your natural herbs that can strengthen your immune system

After your Flight:

  1. Continue to drink 8 ounces of water every hour
  2. Aim to do at least 15 mins of yoga or other form of exercise
  3. Consider getting a massage, which as been known to reduce jet lag
  4. Continue eating circulation enhancing foods
  5. As soon as you can – swim, take a shower and/or a steam bath to rehydrate your skin

Exercise before the plane: Check!

Essentials for my carry on: Check!

Prewashed avocado, oranges, apples and lemons: Check!

Homemade sprouted wraps filled with sprouted sunflower seed hummus, sprouts and raw veggies: Check!Wraps wrapped in parchment paper, not foil (foil sets off the metal detector): Check!A great start for a trip – The nicest US Airways employee I’ve ever met: Check! A very heavy overpacked bag with lots of natural food options: Check!Herbs to keep me from getting sick: Check!
A light meal in the air: Check!Lots of crunchy healthy snacks: Check!Natural hand sanitizer: Check!

Phew. Get me off of this plane, will ya?


I will be posting new photos and more travel tips on my my Facebook Fan Page hopefully everyday for the next few weeks! Don’t forget to ”Like me”!

Also check out more Food Babe Travel Essentials!
Food Babe Travel Essentials – Part 1 and Food Babe Travel Essentials – Part 2: Eating Outside Your Home

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44 Responses to “Food Babe Travel Essentials – No Reason to Panic on the Plane!”

  1. Shalini

    So great Vani! I am going to use these tips; we are going on vacation this weekend as well! What can I do knowing we will be eating all of our meals in restaurants all weekend? Thanks for the help!

  2. Shalini

    Where can I buy the natural hand sanitizer? I don’t like the ones that have so many chemicals in them.

    • Food Babe (to Shalini)

      Click on the link in the post – Amazon! or Whole Foods or a Natural Food Store. I think Target may carry this brand now too!

  3. annie

    Love this! Thank you for all of the great advice!

  4. Amrin

    Love this!! Really enjoy all your other posts as well.
    Question- what exercise-watch do you have?

    Have fun in Tokyo!! :)

  5. Bianca

    Wow, I didn’t realize airplane flights put so much pressure on the body and digestive track. I also thought that you weren’t able to take food on the plane. I guess I was wrong. Did you have any problems getting through security?

  6. Denise

    I’m glad you linked to this post today. I’m flying a couple of weeks and definitely needed help with my healthy eating strategy.

  7. DawnV

    What a fabulous post! Thanks so much for all the great info. Flying really affects my daughter (she has JRA and MCTD) and the pressure changes are really hard on her joints. I didn’t know that about the reduced humidity and oxygen quality. We’ll be flying next month and I will be much better prepared to make sure she is able to function once we reach our destination. THANKS!! :)

  8. Tracee

    You don’t even know how helpful this has been to me! We fly so much and with 2 kids it can be so difficult! I didn’t even realize that you could bring your own food on the plane – and the cooler – GENIUS! I’m almost escited for our return trip to Israel in August so that I can try some (or all!) of these tips. Again – thanks so much!

  9. Ruth B

    Do you bring your food through in a small cooler, or just packed in your carry on? I just wonder, with the wraps, do they need to stay cool? Thanks!

  10. Frank R Car

    Nitrogen mixed with AIR?!@!!! You are a retarded boob!!!!! And so incorrect! Air has 78% nitro and 20% oxygen- that’s AIR!!! Any more o2 and you risk explosion. My God women where are you from?!!! I guess you do those Oxy hit thingies too. You spew so much misinformation it’s unreal. Keep downing those Chinese herbs- bet there’s some excellent quality control there- hey maybe that’s your problem! Go back to the golden triangle and meditate a while and please don’t fart all the way over on everyone while you eat your veggie wraps.
    And just what are you going there for anyway? Picking up a shipment of herbs? You sure seem to have a lot of money and jet around everywhere. You need to be watched.

    • mary (to Frank R Car)

      I can’t believe how rude you are…!!!!!!! How dare you speak to Vani that way! If it weren’t for Vani I don’t believe I’d be here today. At the very least I wouldn’t be as happy and healthy. You make me sick to my stomach. There’s no need to be that hateful….EVER

      • Gary (to mary)

        Frank, you should make your arguments in a more constructive way, or, since I’m assuming that you’re 12 years old, go outside and play instead. That said, Vani’s post, which I find informative as usual, does have a couple technical errors. First, airline cabin pressure is maintained at a level that is equivalent to that found at 6,000 to 8,000 feet, much lower than that experience my most people in their ordinary lives, so your body while in flight is in an under-pressure situation and not under compression. Secondly, her statements about the makeup of the atmosphere in the cabin is, almost certainly unintentionally, misleading. Normal air is indeed 78% nitrogen, so the airlines don’t add nitrogen, but the ratio of nitrogen is increased because some of the oxygen is used in the engines so the cabin oxygen level is reduced from normal, making the nitrogen level higher by comparison. This still does have the effect of causing the body to work harder to get the oxygen it needs and of course her comments about the lack of moisture in the air are very accurate.

    • Duane (to Frank R Car)

      Your comments are hilarious and mostly true (I cringed at the Chinese herbs because those chinese herb concoctions are laced with everything from bootlegged pharmaceuticals to lead powder AND FILTH…). This blog also has a lot of helpful information and probably 80 percent of The Food Babe’s info is extremely accurate and helpful…she also walks the talk….
      Most of the readers comments are extremely stupid…
      I was reading her excellent zucchini lasagna recipe and one imbecile actually started complaining that it wasn’t RAW!!!

  11. Frank R Car

    Wow! how dare you continue to spread mis- information that Food Broad promulgates. I think you too, should do some research about physics rather than live in your fantasy land. And follow fashion instead of facts. Jump down off your high horse and come to reality and see what it’s really like rather than believing what you want to happen. Really, get real and get off the coat tails of the food nazi.

  12. Susan Heller

    Twice a year I fly from Phoenix to Israel. It’s about 5 hours to NYC then a 6 hour lay over in the airport and then a 13 hour flight to Israel. I can’t drink 8 oz for every hour. Usually I sleep about 6 hours on the transatlantic flight with help from Ambien or else I don’t sleep at all. Do you have any special advice for taking flights this long and a substitute for the ambient. If I don’t take it I don’t sleep then I am a zombie when I get there. One trip is in the summer and I stay for two months but the other is usually a three week trip.

  13. Nancy Hinchcliff

    Getting ready ti travel… 1st time looking forward to being a bit healthier on the plane!

  14. Billie Bakhshi

    What are those herbs that you take to keep from getting sick? Plz clarify…motion sickness or Germy sick? And where can they be found?

  15. KatieC

    Lots of great tips! Your paragraph regarding air composition is a bit confusing. I am not sure what is in the plane’s air from your explanation.

    As learned in Scuba courses – the air we breath on Earth is about 78% Nitrogen, 20% Oxygen, and the remainder a large assortment of compounds.

    Thanks for all your recipes & other tips too. I drink your Hari Shake all the time :) great to get all that in without a juicer (we are getting a juicer for Xmas tho!). Hope you enjoy Cusco/Machu Picchu & Happy Holidays!

  16. Jennifer R

    Hey, Vani. I know you’re all about food, but don’t forget about opting for the pat-down instead of going through the detectors. The radiation is NOT suggested for those with heart conditions, but it has also been shown to contribute to cancer. NOT COOL. I recently traveled to Nicaragua, and each of the three times I had to go through inspection, I refused the machine and opted for the pat-down. My conscience is clear.

  17. Liz

    Absolutely love your travel articles! Im traveling internationally for the first time and these are all great tips! Thank you!

  18. Sara

    I’m so confused- how do you get food past the TSA? They’ve never let me or anyone else I’ve seen carry on their own food?

    • Elisabeth (to Sara)

      What kind of foods are you trying to bring? I regularly bring food with me when I fly – you cannot bring any liquid foods, but cut up veggies and fruits, snack items, even sandwiches are fine in your carry on. I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to bring a cooler, I just stick them in my carry on. You may have to dump leftovers of fruits and veggies at customs when you arrive at your destination (international flights), but otherwise it should be ok. Make sure you don’t have salad dressings or sauces, that is what will trip you up.

      • Sara (to Elisabeth)

        Normal things like pretzels, apples, chips, a sandwich one time. All had to be thrown out. The TSA is so frustrating (and IMO useless)..maybe I just had a bad agent on a power trip. I’ll try again when I fly to New Orleans!

  19. Marnie Britcher

    Most excellent presentation of flight prevention complications! This flying RN knows that Food Babe is super intelligent when she soars. Follow her examples and stay safe!

  20. Sue Kjos

    I always travel with Young Living medical grade essential oils. They are used by many hospitals and will protect you from harmful bacteria and viruses.

  21. Chelsey

    Thanks for the post Vani! What were tubes in the bag that say Greens Chia? I love Chia seeds! Just curious.

  22. dotcomsecrets

    This text is worth everyone

  23. Courtney

    I also heard after landing you should stand on the grass, sand or something to ground yourself, it helps with jet lag. Peppermint essential oil also helps with headaches and jet lag when travelling.

  24. Mike

    Hi there

    Haven’t even read the whole posting, mostly because the whole thing starts off with a serious error.

    I’m an airline pilot so I know a thing or two about how unhealthy sitting in planes is for you. Many things listed here are completely correct, however it all starts off with a major misconception: that the airplane is ‘pressurized’ and that you are therefore subjected to higher pressures.

    Yes, it is pressurized. It has to be, because as we get higher, the air gets ‘thinner’ and contains less oxygen. If you went for more than 30 seconds without extra oxygen at cruising altitude you’d likely pass out and eventually die. To stop this from happening, aircraft manufacturers invented the pressurized cabin. This increases the air pressure inside the cabin so that it remains breathable. However, this increase is only compared to the air pressure outside! The air pressure inside the cabin at higher cruising altitudes is actually lower than at sea level. It will roughly be as if you are at an altitude of 8000 feet. Just remember, that’s still a lot lower than the 35,000 feet you’re cruising at! But for most people that pressure is actually considerably lower.

    Anyway, as I mentioned, a lot of things mentioned in the post are completely correct, but let’s start the whole thing off with the correct assumption!

  25. Susan Hackbart

    Can I get your recipe for the homemade sprouted wraps? Great job on Dr. Oz, CNN and Good Morning America! Thanks for what you are doing!!!

  26. Kris Comefree

    Great tips and info but, where are your references?

  27. Aileen

    Found your site through Dr Mercola interview … excited to start utilizing some of the tips you have for traveling. It looks like you take a blender with you too? Can I ask what brand you use/is it lightweight?

  28. ScienceGirl

    What do you mean when you say that the air that is pumped is not pure oxygen? The air that you breathe outside is not pure oxygen either! Please, go ahead and look up composition of air. You will find out that Nitrogen is 78%, Oxygen is 20% and the rest is carbon dioxide and argon.

    From your posts it is very clear that you do not have any science or medical training. Please realize that making the assumptions that you make can be very dangerous, especially when you have a following that reads every word you say. If you want your posts to be really valuable, find scientific resources to back them up.

    Your tips are spot on, but your reasons are dead wrong.

  29. Nikki

    This was extremely helpful. I travel a lot and at least one long 12 hour flight to Europe a year and I never have enough to eat and you are so right about the water. I’ve even had a FA ask if I would like wine instead of water because they were conserving it for the rest of the plane. Um no, agua please. I may need to incorporate this into my plane packing check list!

  30. Beez

    As soon as I get to my seat I use a sanitizing wipe to clean, the fold down tray,
    arm rests, seatbelt, and a/c knob. Flight attendants have no time to wipe anything down.

  31. Noe

    Just found this website and LOVE IT!
    Those wraps look amazing, great advise to travel and stay fresh.


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