Nine essential tips to stay hydrated on long-haul flights

Staying hydrated on your next long-haul flight is important and often overlooked.

Staying hydrated on your next long-haul flight is important and often overlooked. Photo: Getty

We’ve all been there. After the excitement of planning a trip to some far-flung destination, you step off that long-haul flight feeling exhausted and washed out.

Chances are, you’re suffering from dehydration, showing up in the form of headaches, dizziness, fatigue and low mood. Far from ideal when you should be seeing the sights or hitting the pool.

Unfortunately, failing to stay properly hydrated on a lengthy flight is easy to do. The air conditioning, low humidity and low oxygen pressure on most airlines can cause water to evaporate from your skin and lungs as you exhale, far more quickly than on terra firma.

Forgetting to drink water – or even avoiding fluids to reduce those annoying trips to the airline bathroom – can make the situation worse.

Here are some simple, yet essential tips to stay hydrated and make sure you arrive at your destination in the best possible shape.

Take a water bottle

Pack an empty reusable bottle in your carry-on luggage. While you may not be able to take liquids through security screening, most airports have facilities to fill your bottle once you’re through. Taking your own bottle ensures you can easily access water throughout the flight, rather than having to wait.

Sip regularly

Set an alert on your phone or watch to drink water at regular intervals. Without that, it can be easy to forget, so having a reminder can help establish a routine. Aim for about 250ml – equivalent to one plastic airline cups – every hour.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol

Bad news, we know, but both contribute to dehydration. If you aren’t willing to limit your consumption, intersperse with water or herbal tea to compensate.

Pack electrolytes

A packet of electrolyte powder sprinkled into water can help replace essential minerals lost through dehydration. Including one in your carry-on is a great idea.

Choose hydrating foods

Granted, the choice will be limited at 12,000 metres, but where possible, opt for snacks and meals with a high water content, such as fruit, vegetables and salads. These all contribute to your overall hydration.

Move around

Take advantage of opportunities to move around the cabin and stretch. A quick walk not only helps prevent stiffness and discomfort, it’s also the ideal time to visit the galley to refill your water bottle.


Dry cabin air can affect your skin during a long-haul flight, so don’t forget to pack a hydrating moisturiser or spray. You might even consider a hydrating mask, applied discreetly once the lights are dimmed.

Listen to your body

Pay attention to the signs of dehydration, such as dizziness, headaches or dark urine. If you notice these symptoms, up your water intake, pronto.

Refuel on the ground

Even the best laid plans can falter after several hours at altitude. If that happens, boost your body with what it needs once you’re on the ground. A layover should be viewed as a pitstop to rehydrate, replenish and get moving.

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