Interview With a Flight Attendant: A Travel Professional’s Tips on Being Healthy, on a Budget

How do flight attendants stay healthy when their typical work day involves high altitudes, changing time zones, dehydration, and an inconsistent sleep schedule? For most of us, this would be pretty taxing on the body (and mind), but flight attendants still manage to look healthy and happy given these conditions. I had to find out how…

Fortunately my good friend Sara is a flight attendant and has graciously agreed to answer my questions on how she stays healthy while working 35,000 feet in the air. Side note, this girl is probably the happiest, most pleasant person to be around (I don’t think I’ve ever seen her cranky, angry, or mad) so I was curious to see how she kept both her mind and body healthy.

I found her advice incredibly helpful, realistic, and very budget-friendly. Read on below for the full interview:

WHAT ARE THREE THINGS YOU ABSOLUTELY CANNOT TRAVEL WITHOUT?

1.Yoga blocks: They take up a lot of space, but they encourage me to keep my daily yoga routine and are usually a fun talking point if I’m staying with people – they’ll want to try them. For big trips I travel with just one yoga block.
2.Fanny pack: I love my fanny pack – if I want to do a spontaneous hike anywhere, I just ditch the purse and carry my essentials.
3.Hand lotion & chapstick! Essentials for flying.

I’M SURE WITH THE LACK OF SLEEP, INTERACTION WITH MANY PEOPLE, AND CHANGING ENVIRONMENTS IT’S EASY TO GET SICK…HOW DO YOU PREVENT THAT?

Hydrate a LOT. It flushes out anything toxic, and when you’re already sick it won’t last as long if you drink green juices, water, and tea. Also, sleep whenever you can and sanitize post-flight!

WHAT KIND OF FOOD DO YOU EAT ON THE AIRPLANE?

I bring my own snacks – almond butter, healthy bread, apples, dried mangoes, hard boiled eggs, avocados, and usually one perishable container like squash or soup or sweet potatoes. Honestly, I try not to eat much on the plane and try to hydrate instead.* I live by coconut water and watermelon water!

*Sara is also a fan of intermittent fasting on flights as a means of staying healthy.

BEST TIP FOR FIGHTING JET-LAG?

The best tip is to not fight it. Take naps! In the industry, you just get used to being tired.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TRAVEL HACK THAT SAVES YOU MONEY WHILE TRAVELING?

Bring chocolate for your Flight Attendants, Gate Agents, Hotel Concierge, and others, and let people know they are appreciated!

*I can vouch for this – I’ve brought individually wrapped chocolates for my flight attendants before and they hooked it up. Seriously, it makes their day.

WHAT IS YOUR PRE-FLIGHT ROUTINE TO STAY HEALTHY BEFORE FLYING?

I usually start my day with a warm drink that’s also hydrating – I mix 1/4 orange juice with 3/4 hot water. I drink about 2 glasses of that. I also do at least 10 min of yoga before getting on a flight.

*And if you’re already sick, here are my tips for a speedy recovery before flying on a plane.

ANY ADVICE FOR TRAVELERS WHO WANT TO TRAVEL HEALTHY, WHILE ON A BUDGET?

For food, nut butters are filling, healthy, and not that expensive. For exercise, call fitness studios or gyms to see if they offer a free/discounted first-time trial. If it’s not cold, you can do a lot of bodyweight exercise outdoors and combine sightseeing with a nice jog/walk.

WHAT’S THE WEIRDEST THING YOU’VE SEEN SOMEONE DO TO STAY HEALTHY?

What we call “galley yoga” – when people come to our small galley work spaces to stretch out on long flights. I’ve seen some of the strangest poses there.

*I’m definitely guilty of being one of those people! Whatever, no shame.

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT’S THE BEST SEAT TO GET?

Depending on your priorities… if you like to stay warm, the middle of the plane is usually the coziest temperature.

If you want more attention from your flight attendants, we are more likely to cater to you if you’re seated in the back (we don’t have to pass by a hundred or so people to check in on you).

WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT MOST PASSENGERS DON’T KNOW BUT YOU WISH DID?

Flight Attendants are actually not required to lift bags! We get asked a LOT. Also common sense – if you’re depending on us to lift a heavy bag during boarding, we won’t be there to help get it down after landing. As an incentive, nearly all airlines offer a complimentary bag check once you’re through security.

*Save yourself (and your flight attendant) the hassle and pack light! You’ll be saving yourself from potential injuries lifting a heavy suitcase.

WHERE IS THE HEALTHIEST/BUDGET FRIENDLY PLACE YOU’VE VISITED?

South Africa! I stayed in Cape Town and you can buy fresh cold-pressed green juices for $2 USD. They have very healthy grocery stores like Woolworths and everything is incredibly cheap and healthy compared to the US.

flight attendant travel tips

There you have it, budget-friendly tips on staying healthy from a travel professional! Huge thanks to Sara for answering these questions and sharing her industry advice.

If you are interested in asking Sara any additional questions, comment with them below and we might come out with a second edition!

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