Taking Good Care of Yourself While You Travel

March 5, 2020

With the coronavirus scare being a hot topic these last few weeks, I thought maybe it would be a good time to talk about ways to stay healthy while you travel.  As fun as travel can be, it can also play havoc with your body.  Here’s some things I’ve thought of and things I’ve found through research that will help you stay healthy as you fly and travel:

  • While cleaning crews do their best to keep the plane clean, they can't tackle every germ. If you want to avoid getting sick from the germs left behind by other passengers, there's a simple solution: sanitize.  Wipe down the arms, remote, seat belt clip, and all hard buttons or structures you touch on your seat. Then be sure to discard the wipe.

 

  • Stale airplane air can quickly leave a person feeling dehydrated and generally worse for the wear. Eating the right foods can help cure this in no time. Try eating light and water filled foods, such as a small salad or a piece of fruit and drinking plenty of water on the plane as the air humidity is much lower than your normal environment.

  • Before you travel, make sure you're up to date on your shots. If you're traveling to an area where you're at risk of picking up an illness like malaria, you may want to be prescribed preventative medication as well.  Use the CDC website for recommended vaccines or visit a travel clinic.

  • If you're traveling to or from an area where you have reason to be concerned about the water quality, make sure to order your drinks without ice. Even after freezing, much of the bacteria and other contaminants in the water will remain. Only drink canned or bottled beverages.

  • If you're in for a long flight, make sure you get up periodically to move around and stretch. This can help decrease your risk of blood clots. It can also help save your back from aching after you've been slouching for hours in the same position in a tiny seat.

  • Try to avoid alcohol.  Having a cocktail to ease the stress of your flight may seem appealing, but if you want to avoid getting sick, it's best to stay away from it as it only contributes to dehydration.  It can also lead to jet lag, leaving you sleep-deprived and at greater risk for illness.

  • If you're traveling far from home, do what you can to adjust to the time difference to avoid sleepless nights and a weakened immune system. Taking a sleep aid such as melatonin can help to avoid jet lag and will make a difference when adjusting to new time zones.

  • Think you can skimp on doing any exercise just because you're on vacation? Well guess again. Researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign have found that exercise can reduce the likelihood of developing respiratory tract infections and shorten their duration, so make sure you're at least getting those steps in!

  • Avoid touching your face.  Treat your face like a priceless work of art and keep those hands off. Try very hard not to touch surfaces and do NOT put your hands to your eyes, nose or mouth when traveling—that will transfer germs into your body through your 'portals of entry.' Carry facial tissues and use them if you need to rub your eye or touch any part of your face.

  • Try to eat right - maintaining good health while you travel starts in your gut. Proper nutrition will help your immune systems. Fiber-rich foods, as well as ones rich in probiotics, like yogurt and pickles will help feed your healthy gut bacteria, boosting your immune system in the process. 

  • Don’t forget that travel is usually about relaxing.  But sometimes that can’t be the case – such as a business trip to Europe, attending a funeral, etc.  If your trip proves to be a stressful experience in and of itself, you may be at greater risk for illness.  Stress can negatively affect the human immune system, making you more likely to get sick. If you're going to be on edge, try going for a walk, meditating, or just curling up with a good book whenever possible.  This may help mitigate the immune system-depleting effects of stress.  

 

I just returned last week from a 7 week trip to Australia and New Zealand and the Coronavirus popped up in New Zealand before we came home.  It’s scary but I knew I couldn’t worry about it.  All I could do was prepare myself in every way possible to avoided it.  Bottom line….to stay healthy while you travel, you need to do everything you can to take good care of yourself and your body.  Happy travels!

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