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I just love the airport in our small town. As soon as you enter the terminal (I use that term loosely), you are greeted by two clerks behind a lone counter. A couple of nearby TSA agents smile and nod as they anxiously wait to carefully check your luggage since there are only eight people on the flight.

When your bags are checked, the agent presents your ticket and says politely, "Help yourself to coffee and cookies around the corner. We'll let you know when it's time to go through security."

When we finish our second cups of coffee, a TSA agent strolls over to tell us it might be a good time to visit the restroom as they soon will begin the security process. I love that.

Travel isn't always that easy, however, especially when it comes to staying on track nutritionally. Here are some crucial details to remember that make for a more pleasant journey:

Drink plenty of liquid

Pressurized cabins at high altitudes can suck the water right out of our system if we don't replenish often. While we're not likely to get dehydrated on short flights, longer trips are another story. Ask for water (preferably) or other nonalcoholic beverage and drink at least 8 ounces for every hour in flight, suggests the experts with the Aerospace Medical Association.

As for alcohol, the "I'm on vacation, why not?" attitude can dehydrate us all the way down to our cells, said Clayton Cowl, M.D., Chair of the Division of Preventive, Occupational, and Aerospace Medicine at the Mayo Clinic. If you can't pass up a drink in-flight, treat yourself to 8 ounces of water for every alcoholic beverage you imbibe. That can at least help to counteract the dehydrating effect of the alcohol.

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Focus on fiber

The indigestible part of plant foods known as dietary fiber is one essential food component guaranteed to make you more comfortable on your travel. Sitting for long periods and not drinking enough fluids can make for miserable travelers, especially when dietary fiber intake is low.

Take a look around the next time you have a delay between flights. Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and other sources of fiber are not always at the top of airport menu boards. Maybe that's why many travelers look so strained.

Ideas on ways to bring the fiber with you include fresh fruit, trail mix and unsalted nuts (the last things we need when traveling are swollen legs and elevated blood pressure). Or, look closely and you may find these at many airports: fruit and granola parfaits, vegetable omelets, salads and whole grain breads or crackers.

Keep moving

From fidgeting in your seat to walking around until flight time, the more we move when traveling, the better our circulation and digestion.

Happy trails!

Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian. Email her at barbara@quinnessentialnutrition.com.

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