Pilot Hacks

Wondering if there are any fellow flight crews with tips for staying healthy as a pilot or flight attendant.


I'm in the earlier part of my carrier and tend to work days with four to six short-haul (one to two hour) sectors or two six hour sectors (Canada - Mexico and back) - same time-zone luckily. Many of the people I fly with succumb to health, overweight and fatigue issues. Wondering what kind of hacks the community has if you're not only a frequent travel but you work in airlines for a living.




  • I travel nearly weekly on airlines in my career as a management consultant.


    Here are my tips:

    • Assume you will need to supplement no matter what.  Food quality in hotels, airports, and other locations can vary dramatically.  You will need to supplement to ensure you get all the proper nutrients as well as support detox.
    • Modify your meals to avoid all bread and carbs.  Ask restaurants to not place bread on the table.  Request burgers without buns.  Substitute carbs sides like rice and fries with veggies.
    • As tempting as it is, don't let business travel become an excuse to drink.  Its to easy to fall into the trap and make it a habit.  Alcohol will drive weight gain plus other health issues.
    • Develop a workout habit.  I pack my running shoes and work gear in my bag every week, no questions asks.  As soon as I get to the hotel I set up a wake up call to allow me to get in one early morning workout.  I do this twice a week.
    • Lastly, high quality sleep is necessary.  I bring a travel size acupressure mat similar to the one that Bulletproof sells, but made by Spoonk.  Plus I bring a travel size white noise generator made by Marpac.  I do not hear a single noise in any of the hotels I've stayed in.
  • sparefilmssparefilms Post-human Construct ✭✭✭
    edited October 2015

    I second everything Dennis said! I don't work in the industry or actually get to travel as much as I would like, but I do have extensive plans for regular travel. Hopefully some of these will be helpful.


    Make a list of wide-spread restaurants that have high standards for quality. Call the local sushi place and ask how often they have deliveries, if they do twice a day like a proper sushi place then they get their fish fresh, not frozen. You can ask your sushi chef to make your rolls custom, and they are usually enthusiastic especially if you sit at the bar and watch (tip the chef separately, especially if you plan on coming back!). 



    In-N-Out, Five Guys Burgers & Fuzzy's Tacos. These are considered fast food, but you can ask for custom orders that are excellent. In-N-Out owns their farms, raises their beef and grows their own produce, has no freezers except for the ice cream coolers and is not allowed to open a location more than 24 hours away from their own distribution centers. At In-N-Out and Five Guys you can specify no bun and tell them you are celiac, they will change gloves and clean the line before making your food. You can chat with the cooks at Fuzy's and turn your fish tacos into giant salads.



    Grab the restaurant list from Kitchen Nightmares and if you are in a city where one of those restaurants is still open, jump at the opportunity! A little more upscale, but as fresh as you will get without visiting a 5 star restaurant.



    Make the staff, especially the housekeeping staff, at hotels you visit often your close friends. They can make things happen, and can assist your efforts to stay high performance.



    I would bring my own sheets and pillow cases, if not my own pillow. Also bring some heavy masking tape to tape off all the blue and green LEDs on the TV, AC or other appliances. Multiple layers of masking tape can block the light nicely and leave no residue when pulled off. Bring your own soap (a bar of soap works great as shampoo) to avoid reactions to hotel soaps. Pick up a $2 bag of epsome salts at a local drug store and recharge in a hot epsome salt bath, and as soon as water temp starts to drop jump in an icy shower to rinse off.



    You could give Airbnb a shot if you're adventurous. 



    Vibrams and Feiyue shoes roll up into a carryon bag perfectly. I would recommend sourcing some hemp products from Datsusara for your travel needs, they can keep your items from becoming full of mildew on hectic travel schedules.






    ​Aeropress + Travel ceramic burr grinder + Blender bottle + Small airscape canister of beans (or local beans!). Walmart, Target, Krogers, Tom Thumb, Albertsons all carry Kerrygold butter and MCT oil. Microwaves are fine for heating water (structural isomerism does not apply to water) just watch out for old food odors in there. Request a clean microwave if need be. 



    Alternatively, carry Runa guayusa tea bags.



    Watch the film Up In The Air. Not while flying though. 



    Finally, you should check out some EDC forums, ultralight travel forums, carryon-only travel forums and things of that nature. These guys and gals have got travel down to a science! Combine their practical travel tips with the biohacking side of things and you can be unstoppable.

  • Let me add a few more tips.


    I use Apple maps and Yelp app on my iPhone.  I search Apple Maps and Yelp when I'm in a strange city for these key words "organic restaurant", "juice bar", "farm to table", and other similar phrases.  Yelp is helpful as you can read reviews and view the menu before you go there.  I have found so many local high quality food restaurants using this method.  Places that I would have never found otherwise.


    Search your destination for a Whole Foods.  Their prepared food section typically has better options if the area you are in is a food desert (not perfect, but higher up on the quality scale).


    One recent find is the café located LifeTime Fitness/Athletic gyms.  You don't have to be a member to use the café and they typically have a better quality food options (including some organic items).  I used to stay in a Marriott next to one and often got a breakfast omelet made with organic eggs.  Since LifeTime is a chain gym, you may be able to find one at your destination.

  • karenkaren "Say your 3 S's: Star, Smile, Strong!"
    I'm a flight attendant still figuring out how to mitigate the damage my time in the air and the hotels is doing to my body.

    I do herbs often, from teas to infusions to tinctures to hydrosols. I have a large stock of them in my crash pad, ranging from nourishing nettles and oat straw to digestive aid blends to all out immune blasting combos with jackass bitters and guava leaf. I have some uplifting essential oil sprays like lemongrass or melissa that I use on the plane and in the hotel.

    I found that for me more important than hydration was keeping electrolytes at good levels. If I just drink tons of plain water, I actually feel worse when flying.

    I use honey to sleep, and I have this little fleece headband that has built in headphones that are great if I need to block out light and sound. I am a Vipassana meditator, so I just plug the headband into my phone and pull up stuff on YouTube.

    I make bp coffee in my blender bottle (tried glass mason jars, but they kept breaking in my bag), pack basic bp food with those little ice bags, and always scout out my food options for grocery stores ahead of my trips. Some cities are so much easier than others...but if you look for the local cross fit, they know the great options, like a paleo delivery service that can drop off food at your hotel if you order ahead of time.

    The learning curve has been pretty steep for me with this job, and I'm finding that I basically have to be way more conscious and proactive about how I eat and sleep when I am flying. Like Dennis said, it has to be an automatic assumption that you *need* to supplement since you a putting your body through unnatural environmental changes on a regular basis.

    Happy Flying! :)
  • LPT: Noise occluding foam ear plugs: you may find it easier to sleep with these in, rather than head phones.

  • mmorel,here is my experience for the line pilot,: I average 4 day trips :

    - Stainless steel Thermos brand 16oz vacuum bottle with the cap that latches.  It will make it through TSA without leaking and keep your BP coffee warm for 4-6 hours

    - Brain Octane in a leak proof 6oz bottle, 6 tblsp of Kerry Gold butter. 

    - Sometimes I bring upgraded coffee and an Aero press-I like a bigger cup or sometimes a second BP and then I get a Blond roast at Starbucks to blend in the vacumn bottle at the airport.  The absolute biggest benefit I get from BP methods while working is starting the day with BP coffee on an early east coast wake-up ( I live in Pacific Coast time) I get focus, energy, and the ability to avoid sugars in the morning that used to put me on the rollercoaster of blood sugar spikes and the inevitable lows that follow.

    - Supplements: Men's multivitamin, CoQ10, Krill oil, D3/K2, magnesium/selenium on alternating days.  Take as needed; extra Vit C, Charcoal caps--you know after crew meals :-)

    - I walk as much as I can between flights and on layovers.  Sitting is bad

    - Sleep: consistently use a white noise program on my phone, phone on airplane mode, use alarm on phone


    a lot of good suggestions above on eating - fly safe!

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