As many people take to the skies on the way to see grandma for the holidays, we can learn a few lessons from some other frequent fliers -- professional athletes.

Save the busiest of businessmen, no one travels more than they do. MLB players hit the road for 81 games a year. NBA players (when there isn't a lockout) hop a flight 41 times a season. Even NFL players have a minimum of eight away games, which is more trips than the average American takes each year. These athletes might have chartered planes and a few more amenities than we get at 30,000 feet, but there are some pointers we can use to make our own travels easier and healthier. Here are the Top 5 tips we can take from the pros when it comes to air travel.

Eat Better At The Airport
Hopefully you don't have a long flight and won't need to eat airline food or even the lackluster options on the way to your gate. But if you do, snack like the pros. You don't need a private chef to whip up a trail mix filled with nuts, seeds and dried fruits. There are countless items from dark chocolate to granola bars to fruits and vegetables that travel well and provide a much better option than airport terminal fast food. And with the inevitable holiday delays and cancellations, you'll be glad you have something to tide you over.

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Drink More Water
Professional athletes know how important it is to stay hydrated, and so should you, especially while traveling. The air in airplanes is very dry and re-circulated. Drink water before, during and after your flight to fight fatigue, headaches, colds, and help eliminate aches and pains. Drinking plenty of water will also keep you more active because you'll have to get up and use the lavatory more often.

Avoid Caffeine And Alcohol
Coffee, tea, soda and alcohol dehydrate us, which is the last thing you want while flying. Pro athletes know to keep the champagne in the locker room. Caffeine and alcohol interfere with sleep and make jet lag worse. Carbonated beverages such as soda may also cause gas or discomfort when combined with air cabin pressure. So as tempting as those "free" sodas are, or how nice that beer would taste once you hit your cruising altitude, skip them.

Get Some Sleep
Bring a neck pillow, blanket, eye mask, relaxing music or whatever you need to get some sleep on the plane. You don't need $300 Dr. Dre headphones like many pro athletes use, but give yourself whatever creature comforts you need to get some Z's. Sleep deprivation can make you more vulnerable to getting sick, something both you and professional athletes cannot afford.

Stretch it out
If you think you're cramped in the middle seat of a non-exit row, imagine how a nearly seven-foot NBA player feels, even on a charter flight. They know how important it is to stand up frequently to stretch and "move about the cabin." This not only burns more calories, but helps avoid swollen feet and ankles, muscle cramps and soreness, and deep-vein thrombosis. While
you're waiting for your flight, stand instead of sitting or walk around the airport. You can also stretch your neck, shoulders and arms while seated on the plane.

-- Elizabeth Watson is an AADP Certified Holistic Health Coach. You can learn more at

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