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Airport Wellness Found: How to Indulge in Me-Time Before Your Next Flight

I love flying. But flying doesn’t love me.

For over 20 years, I’ve circled the globe for work and for pleasure, regularly jetting from YYZ to every continent except Antarctica. 

I’ve had the pleasure of flying in the jumbo jets, the small puddle jumpers, seaplanes, helicopters, hot air balloons and numerous trains, buses, taxis and ferries. 

Always eager to explore near and far, my wellness and active adventures come with a caveat: travel’s side effects are not kind to me.

My internal alarm clock adores adjusting to my destination but avoids the reset when I return to Canada, repeatedly waking me up at disparate times of the day and night. 

My swollen ankles are a sign of my recent up in the air status, while my skin craves moisture the same way kids want candy.

Persistent in my onboard prevention of flying effects, I’ve been the recipient of many a side-eye as I twist and stretch on a plane, trying to boost my circulation as I chug water like a competitive athlete. 

Despite my endless layover because of the global pandemic, when it’s safe, I’m eager to return to the friendly skies and resume my travel addiction.

Hydrate

Water became my raison d’etre for every flight. I was an early adopter of having a water bottle in my carry-on entourage, not relying on the minimal glasses of water offered onboard. 

I also became budget-(and eco) conscious, only purchasing water in places where bottled water was the only option. 

As I’ve become a pro at tilting my water bottle at drinking fountains, I’ve been thrilled with the increase in airports installing complimentary water bottle filling stations.

I won’t soon forget the side effects of travel, but I realize the source of my problems can also be where I found solutions: the airport. 

As we return, let’s reset. No one knows for sure what the future of travel looks like. The only thing we can be certain about is it won’t be the same. The airport and flight experience will be more digital but in fact quite unchanged—planes will still arrive and take off in the same fashion. But our collective attitude will have changed beyond comparison. Our awareness of the importance of being healthy at the time of flying and maintaining resilience when away has never been more in focus.”

Karl Llewellyn, Founder, Sanctifly, a Global Travel Wellness Club for business and leisure travelers

Get Checked

As travelers are returning to fly domestic, airports are committed to offering several ways to make the flying process seamless and offer a multitude of health and wellness benefits.

There’s a new airport wellness service to keep safe: XpressCheck, offering three kinds of tests for COVID-19 which can be scheduled in advance online, as well as testing for flu, strep or mono and to receive a flu shot. 

Now available at 13 airports, including Newark, Boston, San Francisco and Seattle, the tests cost $75.00 and are available between 10 am and 6 pm. 

For those who want to head to Hawaii, XpressCheck is a recognized partner with the Hawaii State Government, as visitors require a negative covid19 test less than 72 hours before arrival to avoid a 10-day quarantine.

Eat Well

Another benefit I’ve routinely indulged in is a stop at Cibo Express Gourmet Markets, with 100 locations across North America like New York City, Houston, Chicago, Toronto and Washington DC airports. 

Not just offering a necessary snack between flights, these markets stock fresh-made daily and locally sourced snacks and meals, as well as on-the-go foodie options that are gluten-free, kosher, vegetarian and vegan. 

Anticipating travelers’ airport wellness needs, the markets now stock small electronics, mobile phone accessories, souvenirs and wellness essentials like hydration tablets, lip balm, travel-sized moisturizers and sunscreen.

Knowing travelers want to be efficient with their time before a flight, Miami International Airport has launched MIA2GO, a contactless food ordering system available via the airport’s website and app. 

Save time while navigating from check-in to gate; this app makes it possible to browse airport restaurant menus, place orders and choose a pre-set pick-up time to minimize waiting in line.

Move

Pre-departure can easily contribute to a daily 10,000 steps goal, but for those who want to keep the commitment to a daily workout schedule, ROAM Fitness is an option for gym rats regularly at Baltimore Washington International Airport. 

Providing Wi-Fi-enabled Technogym cardio equipment, Concept2 rower, free weights and TRX resistance training system, fitness fans can also rent Lululemon workout gear and Brooks running shoes, while members can advance plan a shower reservation in order to be refreshed and relaxed before boarding.

Soothe

Denver International Airport in Colorado is a bustling western hub and home to two Taspen’s Organics locations, created by local Heather Baruch, a registered nurse and certified master herbalist. 

From herbal tea to facial care, flyers can also choose from collections that defy airplane environments like the No More Aches Relief and Aromatherapy Line, cream, salve and roll-on formulated with arnica, calendula, magnesium and St. John’s Wort to naturally reduce swelling and stiffness.

The Restore & Revive calming cream, oil or salves can increase and protect skin hydration with a soothing blend of chickweed, calendula, plantain, comfrey and St. John’s Wort.

Being able to chill out is another necessity to survive all the new rules of airports. Rocking chairs can be found in several American airports (CLT/ Charlotte was the first), and so are massage chairs. 

Spa

At Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, four euros buys eight minutes of shiatsu massage in the AMS Massage-O-Matic design chairs, a quick solution to boost circulation during a layover.

International jet setters should seek out Be Relax Spas, located in more than 50 airports around the world. 

Offering stylish travel accessories, including one of my travel must-haves, My Perfect Sleep Kit with an inflatable neck pillow, sleep mask and earplugs, Be Relax offers two indulgences I highly recommend: the Vitality juice with lemon and mint to combat stress and Oxygen aromatherapy. 

Not sure what to choose? Be Relax Spas offer treatments that fit into time categories from 10-15 minutes, 15-20 minutes and 30+ minutes.

Sleep

For those who want some quiet solo time, make a reservation at Minute Suites: developed with a physician to create the best atmosphere to offer sleep and relaxation for airport wellness. 

Opened first in Atlanta in 2009, there are now locations at seven airports, including Dallas-Fort Worth, Philadelphia, Charlotte and Nashville. Priced from $45.00 per hour, there are discounts for airline and military personnel, and for Mums who need to nurse or pump, Minute Suites offers a complimentary half-hour.

The Fairmont YVR Hotel at Vancouver International Airport continues to be one of my favorite hotels (and I’m not alone, as the hotel has repeatedly been awarded the best airport hotel in North America by the Skytrax World Airport Awards). 

I’ve indulged in many pots of their Jetsetter tea to help reduce my jetlag between flights and taken advantage of the 24-hour breakfast options from Globe YVR. 

Flyers can reserve a day room on the hotel’s Quiet Floor for four, six or eight hours and make it even more relaxing by adding the Wellness room enhancement including Saje diffuser and travel-sized essential oil while also taking a few moments to watch the Sips of Wellness nature videos. 

And for overnight guests, the Fairmont Fit on the Fly program includes borrowing Reebok workout gear, yoga mat and maps for running or cycling routes.

Despite the ever-changing rules of flying, like mandatory mask-wearing and temperature checks before boarding, my three essential tips for flying are to arrive early, hydrate often and indulge in self-care, airport wellness-style.

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