Why you should always check the color of your pee before getting on a plane, according to a hydration scientist

POV: You just stepped out of a cross-country red-eye and finally arrived at your quaint travel destination feeling anything but glamorous. (Read: Skin feels dry and crusty; body is dehydrated and in desperate need of a shower.)

Why this always seems to happen after long days of travel isn\’t a mere coincidence, says Jennifer Williams, MPH, a hydration scientist with Abbott her science. According to Williams, there\’s much less moisture in the air when cruising at an altitude of 35,000 feet, which she says is a recipe for dehydration. So how do you stay well hydrated (a key indicator of healthy aging, BTW) when traveling for long hours? The hydration expert has five simple rules you should follow the next time you board a flight.

Why flying on planes often leads to dehydration, according to a hydration scientist

According to Williams, while air travel is convenient (or, IMO, an inevitable but necessary evil), it can impact your body in more ways than just giving you leg cramps. Which is to say, it can be a sneaky cause of severe dehydration. Humidity in the cabin hovers at 10-20 percent compared to the normal 40-60 percent levels we enjoy ashore. Between the low air pressure, desert-like humidity levels, and decreased fluid intake from running between flights, it\’s a recipe for dehydration, Williams says.

The impact dehydration can have on the body (and pending vacation plans) is no joke. Even mild dehydration can have a big impact on a child or adult. Research shows that losing just two percent of your body water can negatively affect your mood, memory and coordination, Williams says. Or in more extreme scenarios, severe dehydration can lead to headaches, mental fog or confusion, fatigue, mood swings, lightheadedness, and dizziness.

5 tips to stay hydrated while traveling

1. Pregame with the water silly before you hit the airport

Yes: by pre-game we mean sipping copious amounts of water and skipping the preflight mimosa that can exacerbate impending dehydration. According to Williams, your hydration levels Before setting foot on the flight is critical to tracking. Building a good base of hydration before takeoff is key, especially for longer flights or delays, he says. Getting ready for a trip can be exhausting as you rush to wrap up your normal activities while packing your bags and getting off at the airport. In the 8-12 hours before travel, do a hydration check and be sure to proactively drink water and other fluids.

How to conduct the above hydration check? Williams says clarity lies in the toilet bowl (pun intended). While thirst may not be a perfect indicator of hydration status, urine color is a pretty reliable one. If you are well hydrated, your urine should be clear or light yellow in color. Dark yellow or amber urine can be a telltale sign of dehydration, she says.

While thirst may not be a perfect indicator of hydration status, urine color is a pretty reliable one. If you are well hydrated, your urine should be clear or light yellow in color. Dark yellow or amber urine can be a telltale sign of dehydration. Jennifer Williams, MPH, hydration scientist with Abbott

2. Prepare a reusable water bottle

It\’s no secret that everything at the airport convenience store tends to be marked up. Why spend so much on an overpriced bottle of water when you can pack a reusable one to refill after going through security? This trick is so simple, but it\’s something most travelers overlook. Packing an empty, reusable water bottle isn\’t only great for the environment and your wallet, but it\’s also a good way to stay on track with your water intake, says Williams. As a general rule, aim to consume about eight ounces of water for every hour you\’re in the air. It may mean extra trips to the bathroom, but getting around is also beneficial on long flights.

*Book aisle seat.*

3. Electrolytes are your best friend

When plain water isn\’t enough, Williams recommends adding a charge of super-hydrating electrolytes. Electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium and chloride, are minerals that help balance and regulate fluids in the body and are essential for muscle and nerve function. You get electrolytes from what you eat and drink and lose them every time you expel fluids, he says.

Williams goes to? It\’s simple: Pedialyte. Before you travel, slip an electrolyte powder like Pedialyte, which has an optimal balance of glucose and electrolytes backed by science to help replenish vital fluids and electrolytes in your carry-on bag to mix with water during long flights or weekends. stop, he says. Not to mention: It can be a lifesaver if your digestion gets out of balance while traveling.

4. Nibble on hydrating snacks

While you might be inclined to reach for a bag of deliciously salty chips, Williams says you might opt ​​for super-hydrating foods instead (at least while traveling). According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 20 percent of your daily fluid intake should come from the foods you eat. Foods like cucumber, watermelon and strawberries, which are more than 90 percent water, can be especially helpful, she says. To that end, Williams recommends packing some fruit and veggies in your carry-on for in-flight crunching purposes.

5. Don\’t forget to pack your lip balm!

Since skin hydration doesn\’t exactly come from within (!), using hydrating skincare products for long days of travel is one of the best ways to soothe dry pores. Therefore, Williams shares a friendly reminder: He packs the TSA-approved moisturizer and lip balm to take on board for your mid-flight beauty routine. With lower levels of moisture and hydration, skin can dry out quickly. Frequently applying moisturizers while flying in the friendly skies is a great way to keep your face, hands and lips from drying out, says Williams.

An RD shares a list of the most hydrating foods:

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