I talk a lot about traveling with chronic illness. In truth, travel can leave anyone feeling drained and under the weather. Adjusting to different environments, hectic schedules, lack of sleep, stress, and contact with hundreds of strangers can stress even a healthy immune system to its limit. Here are just a few of this traveling mama’s expert tips for staying healthy during travel.
Wash your hands frequently, and carry a bottle of hand sanitizer.
The Center for Disease Control says that washing your hands is “one of the best ways to protect yourself, your family, and others from getting sick.” That’s true in any setting, but even more important when traveling in crowded tourist areas. If you find yourself in an area without clean running water, you can supplement hand washing with alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Travel sized bottles fit neatly into pockets and purses.
Don’t forget to get some sleep.
Yes, you want to pack all the fun possible into your trip, but don’t forget to relax and get some sleep. According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute,” …your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy.” Go ahead and give your body the downtime it needs, after all you are on vacation.
Put your feet up darling.
Spending the day touring your destination of choice is a boost for your soul, however it can take a toll of your body. Be sure to take some time when you are back at your hotel to take care of your feet and legs. A bit of light stretching, and elevating your feet at the end of the night can help to relieve your tired legs and feet. Have a long distance flight where you will be immobile for long periods of time and sitting in cramped spaces with little leg room? Be sure to pack a pair of compression socks to help combat blood clots.
Your body depends on hydration for survival; water is the best option (especially if you are traveling within your own country), but juices, milk, teas, coffee and soda can contribute as well. Just remember that the cocktails you drink don’t quite count. If you are traveling to an area with ample clean, potable water, carrying a water bottle with you is a great idea. Not only will filling the bottle frequently and drinking from it keep you hydrated, but it will save you money too.
It should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. If you want to be sure you are staying healthy during travel, don’t share your beverages. Not even with friends and family.
Boost your immune system with a multivitamin.
The Cleveland Clinic says that studies have shown Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin E are the three best vitamins for boosting immunity. It’s best to get your vitamin intake through whole foods. When you can’t change your diet overnight, consider taking a supplement both before and during your travel. I also give you permission to drink as much orange juice as you want. Packed with Vitamin C it helps in both preventing some airborne illness as well as shortens the duration of the illness if you do get sick.
Resist the urge to over indulge.
We have a rule in our family: No diets on vacation. However, it’s best to resist the urge to over indulge in rich food, sweet desserts, and an abundance of alcohol. Go ahead and try it all. Just remember a little moderation goes a long way. If your stomach can’t handle spicy food without ramifications, that’s not going to change on vacation. If you don’t usually drink, three cocktails at the hotel bar is not going to bode well. You’re on vacation – have a blast! Keep in mind an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. No one wants to spend their holiday on the toilet.
Pack a pharmacy.
It’s best to plan ahead for illness. I call it packing the pharmacy. In addition to my standard medications my toiletry bag always has a stock of emergency pain medications. Pack a supply of antihistamines, non-drowsy decongestants, zinc, throat drops, something to settle an upset tummy, first aid for blisters, and sun screen. I want to point out that I learned to pack all of this the hard way. Be smart, pack the pharmacy on every trip. If you do get ill on vacation you will already have what you need.
Staying healthy during travel.
A vacation is time to relax and enjoy yourself, explore new locations, and make memories that last a lifetime. Following the simple tips offered above will help to make sure you can revel in the experience without unfortunate consequences. Of course, I can’t promise that you won’t get sick. But I can say that with a little care, staying healthy during travel is something we all can do.