Healthy Travel Tips (In-Flight Exercises!)

pain-free travel

Summer travel has begun and if you’re like me you have at least one getaway planned, which means a whole lot of… sitting. Using healthy travel tips makes traveling that much better, yet it’s nearly impossible to be active when getting where you’re going will involve sitting at the airport, sitting on the airplane, sitting in the car, a bus, or even on a train. All that sitting can cause stiff joints, tight muscles, and pain in your body.

Nobody wants to start their vacation bummed out due to a backache and cranky hip flexors.

Keep your body flexible, your muscles relaxed, your mind at ease, and the circulation flowing with these 8 Travel Stretches you can do anywhere — even in your assigned airplane seat!


Do these stretches before, during, and after your travel and you will notice a major difference in your mobility and overall energy. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds on each side, making sure to breathe deeply the entire time:

  1. Overhead Stretch – As if you just woke up from a nice, long nap (and maybe you did) reach your hands overhead creating space through the abdomen and rib cage. Keep the shoulders drawn down, away from the ears, while reaching fingertips sky high.

Where You Should Feel This: Along the abdomen, ribcage, back, and shoulders.

  1. Mini Side Stretch – from the Overhead Stretch position, start to arch the spine to the right keeping the belly tight to protect your spine. Breathe length into the left side body and rib cage and allow the right hand to give a gentle pull on the left wrist. Repeat for the other side.

Where You Should Feel This: Along the torso of the open side and ribcage.

  1. Overhead Triceps Stretch – from the Overhead Stretch position bend the right elbow dropping right fingertips behind the head. Using your left hand, gently pull on the elbow while keeping the right shoulder blade drawn down. Repeat for the other side.

Where You Should Feel This: On the backside of the upper arm that is being pulled on.

  1. Cat & Cow – Place your hands on the seat in front of you (the dashboard will work if you’re the co-pilot in the car and the back of a chair, wall, or your knees will work if you’re in the airport). Exhale and engage your core. Inhale arching your back just enough to lift chin and eyes up as tailbone lifts away from seat. Now reverse this by rounding the back on an exhale. Tuck chin to chest, abdomen to spine, and draw tailbone down toward the backs of your thighs. Repeat for a few rounds moving with your breath.

Where You Should Feel This: Along the front and back of the spine, abdominals, and erectors, as well as between the shoulder blades.

  1. Knee to Chest – Clasp both hands around your right knee and draw it up toward your chest. Place the right heel on your left knee for a deeper stretch. Sit as tall as you can through your spine while leaning forward. Repeat for the other leg.

Where You Should Feel This: Right across the sitting bones of the leg that is crossed.

  1. Figure 4 – Cross the right ankle over the left knee, keeping right foot flexed. Gently press the right knee open toward the floor and lean forward with a flat back. Repeat for the other side.

Where You Should Feel This: Across the outer hip and glutes (and possibly inner groin and lower back) of the crossed leg.

  1. Quad Stretch – Ok, you’ll have to stand for this but you can still do it on the plane! While standing, bend the right knee and clasp shoelaces side of foot with right hand. Bring knees next to each other and draw the tailbone down as you lengthen up from the waist.

Where You Should Feel This: front of the bent leg (the quadriceps) and possibly up into the hip flexor.

  1. Hamstring & Calf Stretch – Can be done seated or standing. Set right leg out straight with toes flexed back toward the face so that only the right heel is on the ground. With left leg bent, slowly hinge forward with a flat back. Repeat for the other side.

Where You Should Feel This: Along the Achilles tendon, calf, and hamstring of the straight leg.

Traveling to your favorite destination just got a whole lot easier on your body and mind. Have a wonderful trip!

In Love & Gratitude,

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Missi Holt

Missi Holt

Missi Holt is the fitness and nutrition editor for Early to Rise. She is a master nutrition therapist, certified yoga trainer, Certified Turbulence Trainer and an NSCA certified personal trainer (CPT). She also provides fitness and nutrition therapy through her own organization, Whole Life Health.