Frugal NationFrugal Nation

8 ways to improve your next flight

Feeling crummy after that vacation or business trip? Dehydration may be to blame -- and it can have a financial impact.

By Donna_Freedman May 3, 2012 12:29PM

Image: Bottled water (© Grove Pashley/Corbis)Air travelers: Feel a little parched? No wonder. You've spent hours breathing air whose humidity is as low as 10%. Maybe you limited your liquid intake, too, to avoid the lavatory.

"Dehydration" simply means that you lose more fluid than you take in. That sounds like a long plane ride to me.

Dry skin, itchy eyes, headache, sticky or dry mouth, fatigue -- any of these symptoms sound familiar? Travelers with asthma or other respiratory ailments may develop breathing problems, according to this Everyday Health article.


Dehydration has a financial impact, too:

  • If you confuse thirst for hunger, you might pop for an airline meal even though you already ate.
  • After landing, you're tempted by the first $5 beverage you see. Maybe another snack, too.
  • You're 113 times more likely to catch a cold on an airplane, according to the Journal of Environmental Health Research. (Shout-out to the seatmate who coughed without covering his mouth.)
  • Have to go to work the next morning? Feeling poorly could lead to subpar performance (in this economy, can you afford to slack?) or more of that un-frugal behavior (I need coffee/a snack/anything that will pep me up until 5 p.m.).

The following tips can help you keep that great vacation/productive business trip from ending in fatigue, headache or the sniffles.

Right from the start

The answer is pretty obvious: Take in more fluid than you lose.

Tip No. 1
: Pre-hydrate. Drink a lot before you leave the house, in order not to start out with a deficit. Time the beverages with regard to how long it takes you to get to the airport, though.

Tip No. 2:
Bring an empty bottle through security, then fill it up. Sip from it regularly until you get on the plane.

Sometimes airport water is weird-tasting (yo, Philly!), which brings me to…

Tip No. 3:
Flavor it. I bring a single-serving packet of lemonade mix, sprinkling just enough into the bottle to disguise the off-flavor. Other flavors are available, and $1 for eight packets is a frugal fix. (Post continues below video.)

Coffee or tea for thee?
I tend to get hungry on planes. There's a win-win for that:

Tip No. 4:
Bring watery snacks. Not pretzels floating in liquid, but rather apples, grapes, cut-up oranges or carrot or celery sticks. Even dried fruit has some liquid in it. And if those raisins or dried cherries wind up making you a little thirsty, that's OK -- it'll encourage you to drink more.

Which brings me to . . .

Tip No. 5:
Say "yes, thanks" every time flight attendants roll the beverage cart past or walk through with pitchers of water. Let the ice cubes melt and drink them, too. Keep the cup after it's empty. (More on that in a minute.)

Water, water everywhere

Tired of all that plain liquid? Check out . . .

Tip No. 6:
Drink coffee or tea. The old theory was that these would dehydrate you further. But according to Dr. Debra Gussman, "it's been found that the (resulting) loss of water is minimal."

In a BabyCenter article about traveling while pregnant, Gussman advises women to drink extra liquids to meet the physical demands of knitting a human being.

Don't guzzle your entire bottle at once, suggests a post from Sips at regular intervals will keep your airway moist, making it easier to fight off germs and viruses.

Suppose you tend to get lost in a good book or a crossword puzzle when you travel? Rather than let hours go by without a drop of liquid . . .

Tip No. 7:
Set a timer. Use your phone or wristwatch alarm to remind you to sip every half hour.

And once your bottle's empty, grab that empty cup for . . .

Tip No. 8:
Head to the back of the plane. Politely ask a flight attendant for a cup of water. If you've been hydrating successfully, you’ll need to be near the restroom anyway.

More from MSN Money:

May 8, 2012 1:17PM
I would recommend sitting in the back of the plane then close to the can.
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.


Donna Freedman

Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.