How to Prevent Your Feet From Swelling During Long Flights

Have you ever taken a long flight only to discover as you were about to get off the plane that your feet and ankles have swollen and look like one big blob? I have!

My first long flight was to Fiji. When I stood up to exit the plane I looked down and noticed that my feet & ankles were swollen and looked like elephant feet.  

I didn’t realize that could happen from sitting since I’m not one to sit still for too long. Even when I talk on the phone I tend to pace around or do housework or something of the sort.

Sitting still for long periods of time can cause the blood to pool in your leg veins. It can contribute to foot swelling by causing fluids to leave the blood and move into the surrounding soft tissues.                                                                                      


Here are some tips to help prevent swelling and keep your feet happy: 

Move - Get up and walk around the cabin or up and down the aisles to get your blood flowing at least once every hour if possible. If you’re in an aisle seat, this is pretty easy but if you can’t get up that often, do seated calf raises, move your feet around in circles and flex your toes.  

Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of water the day before and the day of your trip. 

Dress Comfortably – Wear loose fitting clothing that doesn’t restrict blood flow while you’re sitting.  Choose comfortable shoes that allow you to easily stretch and move your feet around. 

Elevate your feet – If you’re in first class and can lay back and prop your feet up, that’s awesome! If not, put your feet up on the foot bar in front of you if there’s one. If you have baggage under the seat, put your feet on top of it to lift them up. 

Wear Compression Socks – Wear compression socks or support hose to encourage blood flow. These can help quite a bit. I wear them anytime I fly now and haven’t had another episode of swollen ankles since. 

Watch what you eat – Avoid salty foods the day before and day of your trip. Salt can cause you to retain fluid which can cause your feet to swell even more. 

How do you stay comfortable during long flights?  Please share any tips or comments below. 

Happy Travels,