The Simple Way I Know I’ve Flown Too Much

Filed Under: Travel

Okay, so this is totally random, and perhaps borderline too much information, but…

I’m constantly on the road (or in the air, I suppose), and nowadays a majority of my flying is longhaul. While I fly 400,000+ miles per year, I don’t actually fly that many segments, at least proportionally. That’s a blessing, because I find short-haul domestic flying to be significantly more exhausting than longhaul international flying.

However, lately I’ve been doing a lot of international travel. A lot

I’ve written posts in the past about signs that you know you’re flying too much and signs that you’re staying at hotels too much, but I have something very specific that happens to me whenever I fly too much.

Whenever I’m flying too much for too long of a period, my fingernail cuticles start to peel a little and hurt. I know this is random as heck, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why. It’s a consistent thing. I feel like it has to do with how dry pressurized cabins are, along with the frequency with which I wash my hands on planes, and the impact of the rough paper towels and the soap. I don’t know. But whenever I fly 20,000+ miles over the course of several days, it inevitably happens.

My body clock is sufficiently screwed up that I don’t really have many other tell-tale signs that I’ve flown too much. For example, nowadays going to bed at 7PM is just normal for me, and not a sign that I’m jetlagged. Heck, perhaps my schedule is the opposite of others’ — if I’m staying up till midnight, that means I must be really jetlagged!

Anyone else have weird things that happen to them when they fly too much?

  1. Your fingernails are the source of a lot of information about your overall health. I learned that a few years ago when a doctor removed my polish to see about something (not anything I’d think he’d need my hands for). Another doctor recently also examined my nails as part of my checkup. It could be simple dehydration from all the flying or it could be a symptom of something else happening that is related to flying. Worth getting a good doctor to check it out.

  2. I find when I travel too much, my waistband suddenly becomes tighter

    Must be the altitude, or the wine. Definitely the altitude.

  3. During a seven-hour flight from New York to London, travellers receive about the same dose of radiation as a chest X-ray. Have you ever thought how many hours you actually spend in the air and how much radiation exposure you’re getting as a consequence?

  4. No spa treatments at any lounges recently? Definitely has to do with the dry cabin air and washing your hands too much.

  5. What’s with the fear-mongering? Pilots and flight attendants are in the air just as much if not more for dozens of years. Yes, you dehydrate flying. Drink water.

  6. I know I’ve flown too much when someone asks me (and hopefully not a border agent) where I was last week and I completely blank out.

  7. “In fact, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements reported in 2009 that aircrews have, on average, the highest yearly dose of radiation out of all radiation-exposed workers in the US.

    The annual hit to aircrews is an estimated 3 millisieverts (mSv) — a complicated-sounding measure of the amount of background radiation a person receives in one year in the US — which beats out the annual doses received by other high-radiation jobs, such as X-ray technicians and nuclear power workers. (Only astronauts are more exposed; 10 days in spaces delivers about 4.3 mSv to the skin alone, which is about 4.3 years’ worth of cosmic radiation on the surface of Earth.)”

  8. The wife says you need to use cuticle oil a couple times a day if you are flying that much. She says it comes in a little pen like thing you can carry around.

  9. I fly back and forth to Europe from the West Coast and the cabin climate causes my eyes to dry out and look like roadmaps to Hell the next day. Also, if I’m not in J on TATL flights, elevating my legs, my feet and ankles swell up. I have no jet lag issues either direction but I’m only making these flights six times a year so I’m not in your league.

  10. Seems its time to add jojoba oil to your air necessities kit. Keeps nails and cuticles strong and hydrated. Did you know nails are a form of modified hair?

  11. Lucky, luckily no physical symptoms in my case.

    However, short haul duty travel is really worst, since it means getting up at 4am, going to the airport for short flight in Economy, spending the entire day in meeting rooms, heading back to the airport, flying back, arriving home at midnight – and back to office next day 7am …

  12. I think its usually sleep for me. If I’m sleep deprived (eg jetlag), my cuticles wont grow back. Beauty sleep is a real thing!

  13. When the entire cabin crew in first class on CX from different locations recognizes AND remembers the seat you are always in: 1A

  14. Probably down to the using alcohol gels, as they dry out the skin. I knew when I’d flown too much after sitting in the seat and reaching for my belt over my shoulder like in a car 😐

  15. Signs you travel too much: when the customs agent asks what city you’re arriving from, and you can’t remember because there were several; and when they ask what country you live in, you don’t know what to say.

  16. I think it’s just love pangs.

    When two lovers are oceans apart, the body subconciously misses our lover. That’s what is happening to you. Do you also feel insomnia, dryness of mouth, itchy skin, constipation, erectile dysfunction and a urge to post credit card links?

    Talk to your doctor bUT in the meantime Eat a lot of garlic to fortify the heart.

  17. You know, don’t you, that this is all caused by our flight on British Airways SFO-LHR, right?

    OK, I’ll stop 😉

    For now…

  18. Cuticles? Just cuticles? I’m relieved that it’s not so severe as Daraius’ mental breakdown or TPG’s chlamydia scare.

  19. When I’m flying FRA PVG FRA with the same crew; and my answer to “That was a rather short stay!” when boarding at PVG is “I’ve been back to FRA while you were taking a nap at the hotel.” o_O

  20. I know this doesn’t hold up anymore because auto faucets are common. But, my signal that I had been traveling too much was when I would walk out of the bathroom at home and leave the faucet running.

  21. The hand and nail cream by Dermalogica that AA used to give out was always perfect for me. I still have lots of it from the amenity kits.

    But yeah, lotion is great for flying. And of course staying hydrated.

  22. Simply need to be hydrated.
    Just the way your body reacts to the dry cabins.
    External is one thing but start upping the dosage of primrose oil caps or flax oil caps.
    I triple before a flight and at times I can see there is more “grease” on my body than normal and this is
    a preventative measure for dry skin. Caucasian skin is quite thin if you are of Nordic or Germanic background.

  23. Stay hydrated, and use hand cream EVERY TIME after washing your hands or whenever your hands feel dry.

  24. In addition to the suggestions to drink more water, and use body lotion, I recommend using vaseline jelly at night – slather your hands with it, and massage it into your cuticles; you’ll need to wear cotton gloves, but it works wonders.

    Also, make sure that you are getting enough healthy vegetables – airline food covered in sauces etc. isn’t particularly health.

    Make sure also that you make time for a regular physical to rule out other health issues.

  25. Maybe it’s a sign you need to spend more time enjoying the spa facilities of airline/airport lounges, and treat yourself to more regular manicures!

  26. Sometimes I don’t go poop for a couple of days if I fly to Europe or Asia. My normal poop is about 6:30 a.m. every morning, but the travel and time change screws it up.

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