A combination of earlier magazine work and new blog posts

Airplane Remedies for Your Body and Soul

Make sure you land at your destination ready to hit the ground running when flying between Miami and New York.

Lost bags? Hours in the security line? Long delays? Air travel after 9/11 is no day at the beach, but for those of us who fly frequently between New York and the sixth borough, South Beach, this is the price we pay for having fun in two of the country’s most exciting cities.

But the hassle of flying is one thing. What you do not want is for your flight to make you sick. Follow these tips so that when you arrive in either city, you are fresh to drink, dine and party.

Most of you probably think the only thing you have to avoid is sitting in front of someone with a hacking cough. Don’t you hate that? Why did they pick my flight and my section of the plane? Can’t they put their hands over their mouth? The best thing you can do – I learned this from a cool South Beach doc – is to take a tiny swab of an antibiotic cream such as Neosporin, put it on a Q-tip and place it gently around the edge of your nostril. It will catch and destroy any invading germs. I usually go to the bathroom to do it, because it can look a little odd to have a Q- tip up your nose. Pink for girls and blue for boys, please.

But sick fellow travelers are only the tip of the iceberg.

Your tray table is a Petri dish of bacteria, probably not cleaned by the reduced staffs of the streamlined airlines since South Beach real estate was cheap. Jet Blue, a fave for travel between the two areas, does a deep clean every 30 days. But just use a little pack of Sani-Wipes–you will not look odd, I promise. Thinking of using the blanket or pillow? It can also be a month between washings. Forget it. And bring your own headphones for your iPod. Asking for an airline’s headphones is taking a risk of an ear infection, and that is a bummer during a trip. Think it cannot get worse on a plane? Read on.

You know the overhead air vents that you can open up to feel cooler? All they do is recycle dirty air from the rest of the plane. The guy with the bad cough, whom you thought you had escaped because you moved 20 rows away, well, sorry, guess again: He is coming your way through the air vent. Also, there is less oxygen in a cabin than in normal air. That is why you will often get a headache. And it is not helped by cabin pressure, which can make it throb.

In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency tested drinking water on 158 randomly selected planes and found that 20 tested positive for coliform bacteria, which include E. coli, and that can really ruin your trip. Use the airplane’s water to wash your hands in the bathroom, but don’t drink it. Bottled water, anybody? And remember, no ice. It’s just frozen bacteria.

Okay, so you have made your best effort to avoid the minefield for getting sick on a plane. Now, how do you arrive looking great?

If you want to land feeling really fresh and headache-free, avoid the alcohol. Even if you are a nervous flyer, you are better off having your doctor prescribe a mild anti-anxiety pill than downing a few of those little bottles of airplane booze.

Try to keep the coffee and tea to a minimum. Drink plenty of water-and remember, bottled only-to stay hydrated, as the air is not humidified. One or two glasses an hour will do the trick. And before the plane takes off, pop a decongestant such as Sudafed. It will keep you from getting stuffy. Get up and walk every hour-just not too close to the cockpit or you will be tackled by the undercover air marshal.

If you are in coach (I know, I hate it, too), bring along your own food. Leave behind the Quiznos subs and the bags of pretzels and chips. Those sodium-laden foods will leave you looking like a puffball when you get off the plane. Get some almonds, trail mix, fresh fruit, a salad from Starbucks, just healthy and light. And if you are in first class, good luck. I find that every cheese casserole or medallion of beef would be returned if served at a real restaurant. But it is better than nothing. At least they have stopped giving out those silly plastic utensils.

A nap always helps. But during a day flight, the light used to keep me awake. The black eye covers that are on the plane are a sure way to get pink eye. Not attractive. Instead, the best I have found are at peepersleepers.com. They are simply the softest, block out every bit of light and leave no mark on your face. If airplane noise bothers you, try one of the many noise-canceling headsets, such as those from Bose.

And if you feel queasy during the flight, try pressure bands. They look like wrist sweatbands that you would use at a gym, and they really work. They are based on the ancient Chinese principle of acupressure. Air-pressure changes bother you on landing? Chew some gum.

Now, if you really want to pamper yourself and get off a plane with dewy and fabulous skin, I have something for you girls and boys who want to steal a little secret from the stars. It is the new 02 Intraceuticals “oxygen facial.”

“I love the treatment, and so does my face,” says Madonna, who owns three of the machines. Other fans include Halle Berry, Heather Locklear and Molly Sims. Celebs love to do it before a flight. It is a 30- minute noninvasive procedure in which a small wand is passed over your face, applying oxygen under hyperbaric pressure. It firms and tightens the skin, minimizes the pores and little wrinkles and gives you a flawless complexion. Locally, you can get it done by “oxygen therapy specialist” Wendy Hartway at Dr. Fredric Brandt’s Coral Gables office. If you are somewhere else, check out Michelle Peck, who bills herself as “facialist to the stars.”

So that’s it. Who said flying has to be a downer? With a few tricks of the trade, now you can bounce back and forth between South Beach and New York and stay healthy, feel good and look fabulous.