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Traveler's advisory.

Those of us who spend much time in the air may cynically have come to assume that the advantage of speedy travel is necessarily offset by much misery associated therewith. Nevertheless, there are things you can do next summer to reduce the pain as you contemplate your next vacation:

Packing: Your back and your psyche will benefit enormously when you find that you can get along with just one small case. Did you really use all that stuff you took on your last trip? Get one of those collapsible luggage carts (a sturdy one, with big wheels!) if you do require a large suitcase-or a couple of small suitcases.

Call ahead: Check with the airline before leaving home to see if your flight is expected to leave on time. There is no guarantee that it will, but it may avoid a wild race to the nixport when you're pressed for time. Of course, you might want to plan ahead to avoid the wild race; a wreck on the freeway just isn't worth it.

Don't travel on an empty stomach: Eat a light meal before leaving home and don't be embarrassed about packing a nice lunch of health foods to eat on the plane. You'll be the envy of all the others who paid dearly for fast food while awaiting their flight, or waited for an inadequate in-flight meal (or received none at all because of budget cutbacks by the airline).

Don't get dehydrated: Drink plenty of water and don't drink alcoholic beverages on flight. Alcohol is a diuretic and increases dehydration. It's easy to become dehydrated when breathing the air in the cabin. If the air seems stagnant, and lot of smoking, ask the cabin attendant to consult the pilot about checking the carbon monoxide in the aft. Tobacco smoke contains a high level of carbon monoxide, which, besides being dangerous, is a major cause of such annoyances as headaches and jet lag.

Don't just sit there: The Swedish have a very good set of arm, neck, and head exercises that you can do to relieve muscle fatigue while sitting in your seat. There is an excellent book (SAS in-the-Chair Exercise Book, by Dr. Folke Mossfeldt and Mary Susan Miller) that describes these particular exercises in detail.

Finally, some advice about jet lag, if you're crossing more than three time zones or so: The best thing you can do is to get as much sleep as possible on your flight, whether traveling by day or by night. This may mean foregoing the meal and the movie, but you'll find it's worth it.

(Also, by packing your own meal, you can eat it as soon as you get on board--and the sound of in-flight movies is so bad that the movies aren't worth watching.)

Be sure to bring some good ear plugs (the "E.A.R. Noise Filter," a soft foam plug, is excellent) and a sleep mask.

Many of our readers have reported no jet lag when they take Slow-Mag (enteric-coated magnesium chloride) before departing. Slow-Mag is available without prescription and does not cause any stomach upset. The medium is released in the small intestine, where it is best absorbed.
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Title Annotation:air travel tips
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Sep 1, 1992
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