Posted in Lifelong Learning, Travel

My Stuffed Back Pockets – Travel Discomforts

I learned a few facts about the city of Chicago.


It was founded in the 1700’s by a Haitian, Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable and also finally settled on whether it is the “Chicago L or El train”.  For me, learning new things about a place are one of the many joys of travel and the opportunity to visit as many of the sights as far as both my feet can carry is a great coup.  In addition to its many benefits, walking is definitely a different experience than driving  or taking a bus tour because you, no, let me rephrase that.

I can only speak for myself; so be it a layover of a few hours or a visit that spans several days, I feel a special connection to the place as I meander through the busy crowds, taking in the familiar, and sometimes not so familiar smells and sights along the way, and of course the best part, the calories burned.  Whoever said there is no wisdom in investing in comfortable walking shoes (big Score!) for  times like this must have missed the memo.

However, a valuable lesson learned was on the plane ride that made it possible to visit the tourist attraction(s).  Simply put, it was not without its airborne challenges.  To be sure, I am not talking about some sort of airborne cold virus.  The day before my trip to Chicago, I experienced bloating and pinching pains but then it subsided.  That was or should have been my first tip off  but since it appeared to have resolved itself without any help on my part, it was nothing to be concerned about right?

Jean Baptiste DuSable
Jean Baptiste DuSable

It was a smooth climb, turbulence free, and just as things were beginning to feel like they could not be any more perfect,  like an uninvited, unwelcome companion  “gassy pins and needles” resurfaced, as we were  settling into our cruising altitude.

I have talked myself into believing that if I don’t check my watch during the flight, the sooner we are likely to arrive, yes it is warped logic that makes complete sense to me alone.  But I digress.   This time I cracked and based on my calculations, I could only hope that the pilot was receiving all the necessary signals including my telepathically relayed message of  the need for  urgency – my urgency,  gaining access to a clean restroom on ground, ten minutes ago.

My quick fix is typically to drink a cup or two of warm water.  This helps in relieving me of the distension and has worked like a charm most of the time.  I could  do the same on the plane, but there lies the bigger issue, the likelihood of having to go to the restroom would be greater.  Given that it is a gamble, it in this case referring to clean restrooms, I try to limit the number of trips to a public restroom especially on short flights if I can help it.  Help! that I needed since I decided to grin and bear the discomfort through the last half of the trip as I prayed two cups of tea and water would do the trick stat!

Nevertheless, it got me thinking about ways to prevent a repeat occurrence.  Who would have thought tryptophan found in turkey meat, fresh ginger and peppermint oil are good companions. Here are a few tips that may come in hand for your next trip.

Let me preface this with this is no substitute for medical advice from a licensed medical practitioner.

  1. Avoid large meals for at least two hours before travelling and even at that a light non-fatty food choice would help minimize an upset stomach.
  2. At the plane’s flying altitude, the air is drier than normal so water is your friend – Keep yourself hydrated. Still is better than fizzy to avoid feeling bloated.
  3. Taking well-deserved breaks; take walks –Aisle seats give a little bit more room to stretch but not enough so for trips over four hours to keep the blood flowing in the legs after sitting for prolonged periods, get up and walk around during the flight and again drink, drink and drink plenty of fluids.
  4. Alcohol + Long flight does not equal sedative. Caffeine and Alcohol can make jet lag worse. Juice, decaffeinated tea or coffee are better choices. Peppermint tea or inhaling the oil from a tissue is also a good antidote for travel sickness.
  5. Magnesium – Good for calming nerves which can help with travel sickness – whole grains, nuts, dark green leafy vegetables.
  6. Probiotics – Take before, during and after a trip for traveler’s diarrhea which is usually caused by contaminated food or water –
  7. Ginger – Good for motion sickness . Fresh or preserved ginger is good for travel sickness nausea and mild vertigo. Chamomile tea is also good for calming an upset stomach
  8. Reduce jet lag after a long flight and get sleep by avoiding caffeine, alcohol and sugar. Foods rich in tryptophan include turkey and cottage cheese, shellfish, seaweed. These may help with the production of serotonin a neurotransmitter in the brain that can help with sleep. On the other hand one way to stay awake, is to eat protein rich foods like egg omelets and staying hydrated.
  9. Bulging Back Pockets – Remove wallets and other bulging items in your back pockets before settling into your seat because sitting on such items may apply pressure to the sciatic nerve which can cause pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in your leg and hip
  10. Bug Bites – Lavender and tea tree oils can soothe itching from bug bites.Needless to say with all the walking and my mission to stay hydrated, I was a happy camper which allowed me to visit many more tourist attractions and on the return leg of the flight, it was for me a walk in the park on a nice summer day.20140802_155336


Broad based knowledge seeker; outside and beyond the box - arts and culture, travel, writing, christian faith walk, good reads and refreshing conversation - and not necessarily in that order. Storytelling by connecting the dots between the traditional and non-traditional, the obvious and not so obvious.

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