Rick Steves Reveals The Subtle But Effective Health Precautions He Takes On Long Flights

Travel Guru Rick Steves has made it his life's goal to help others explore the world. Over the years, he has released guidebooks for all corners of Europe, created a tour company, and hosted a show on PBS. However, Steves' travel tips are not all destination-based. He has advice for traveling regardless of location and budget. He even has tips for long flights.

Unless you have an aisle seat, getting up to go to the restroom on a flight sometimes means asking strangers next to you to pause their movies or even wake up to allow you to get to the space. Flight attendants might be pushing their carts up and down the aisle, too. However, do not let these factors stop you from drinking enough water. On his website, Steves makes sure to ask for "two orange juices with no ice" as often as possible and avoids alcohol in order to stay hydrated. A headache from a lack of liquids does not make the plane fly any faster.

Rick Steves recommends getting out of your seat once per hour

For some, lengthy flights to faraway destinations can be a major hurdle. While first-class tickets often include a spacious seat that fully reclines, most of the world's population likely finds itself in tight seats that stay upright. Sitting for long periods is detrimental to the human body, especially for its blood circulation. Poor circulation on a flight or the ground can lead to blood clots. Rick Steves tries to get up and move at least once per hour throughout the flight, perhaps just to take a quick walk up or down the aisle. Even while in your seat, there are ways to help circulation. "Flex your ankles and don't cross your legs," Steves advises on his website.

Compression socks can offer added support for leg circulation. The tightness of these socks prevents blood from becoming stagnant in your veins, which can lead to clots or even deep vein thrombosis. They can also prevent your legs from swelling, another side effect of sitting for hours on end.

Take motion sickness medication before boarding

Flight turbulence varies from mild bumps to quite a bit of jostling. Add that to changes in elevation, and flights can become woozy. For those prone to motion sickness, Rick Steves recommends Dramamine or Marezine. But do not wait until you are on the plane to take these medications. As with pain medication, take Dramamine or Marezine around one hour before you want to experience its benefits. 

The ability to relax or even sleep on a flight is difficult. Dramamine and Marezine are both mild sleep aids as well. Some travelers who need help falling asleep opt for melatonin pills, which get their name from the natural tiredness hormone from the brain. Allergy medications like Benadryl or Aleve PM cause sleepiness, making them common for in-flight sleep aids. However, those without allergy needs should use these sparingly as it is easy for the human body to build up a tolerance for their ingredients. As always, speak to your healthcare provider before taking any medication.