Drinking at least eight ounces of water for each hour in flight is highly recommended. The airlines carry about 2-3 ounces of bottled water per passenger, as near as I can tell. So, you’ll need to bring your own water. I tend to save my one to two liter bottles and fill them up with filtered water from my home. This adds a lot of weight to the carry-on luggage at the beginning of the trip, but you’ll be happy to find how light it is when you de-board.

Another item that most people don’t think of is nasal saline. This is available under the brand names Ocean and NaSal, and generics are also available. It’s basically water and salt, and maybe a buffer. Use this every hour to hour-and-a-half of the flight. Nasal saline, unlike medicated sprays, can be used as much as you want without any harmful effects. Be sure to take tissues with you too.

DO NOT USE A MEDICATED NOSE SPRAY! Unless you are desperate to unclog your sinuses, do not use a medicated nose spray. These dry out the sinuses, causing you to be more susceptible to further infections. Also, over-use of medicated nose sprays has yuchy side-effects.

The water and nasal saline are critical for any flight over one hour long. The airplanes are not humidified. The water they would need to carry in order to humidify would weigh too much, and either the airplane would not be able to take off, or the airline would loose profit. Without humidification, our sinuses and lungs become quite dry. It’s even possible to get dehydrated. Once they are dry, they can no longer provide defense against the bacteria and viruses floating around in the recirculated air.

A good hand & face moisturizer will help protect your skin from the dry air.

You know how bad or scarce the airplane food is. They will send you on a three-leg journey totaling nine hours with only a handful of pretzels on each leg. If they do serve food, there’s no guessing what it might be.

High protein, compact foods work best. The protein is absorbed and used slowly, and so will stay with you for a while. I like nuts (peanuts, almonds, yogurt, whatever) and nutrition bars. I also frequently carry small carrots. It is often difficult to find high nutrition food in an airport.

How to estimate journey length

I use this formula:

(Length of trip (in hours) x 2) + 1 hour = high end of probable journey time (in hours)

For trips where the flight is scheduled to be less than one hour, take enough food & water for three hours.

After years of experience, I’ve found that this formula produces a pretty accurate estimate of the longest time I am likely to be on the plane. There are days when the plane pulls away from the gate and sits on the tarmac for more than the total estimated flight time, but that is somewhat rare. In fact, it’s less common now that people are starting to sue the airlines for holding them hostage. Lately when there has been a problem the planes usually return to the gate within 30 to 45 minutes and allowed people to deboard.

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