14 Tips for Healthy Travel on Your Next Vacation
Tickets are booked and itineraries have been planned. All that’s left to do is pack before you head out for your adventure of a lifetime! Of course, you’ll remember to pack the right shoes, the perfect outfit for a night out, and a travel guide to ensure you hit all the good spots. Healthy travel doesn’t always make the list of priorities for vacation planning, but it absolutely should.
Your risk of getting sick increases by 80% if you’re in the same row as someone with a respiratory illness or cold, as well as the seats immediately in front, behind, and across the aisle. Outside of this danger zone, your risk drops with each row between you and the germ-spreader, becoming negligible three or four rows out.
These tips can’t guarantee you’ll stay healthy while traveling, but they sure can help!
14 Healthy Travel Tips to Keep You Going
Regardless of where you’re going or how you’re getting there, these healthy travel tips can help you stay germ-free for the duration of your trip. Let’s get on the road!
1. Sleep When You Need to
Carrying luggage, sitting on a plane, walking around to sightsee… The simplest acts of travel can be exhausting. If you feel like you need to sleep, do. Your body repairs and protects itself when you sleep, equipping you to fight illness should it come your way.
If you feel tired, even after a short walk, take a quick nap. You’ll feel more energized afterward and help your body fight off sickness. You’ll also benefit from improving your sleep before you leave, helping you to sleep better in your unfamiliar destination.
2. Acclimate to the New Time Zone
When you’re crossing time zones, your body may need extra rest. Once you arrive, take a walk around in daylight to get a lay of the land and simultaneously transition your body to the new time zone. A short (hour or so) daytime nap can also do wonders for getting acclimated.
If your destination differs in time by more than a few hours, you may want to adjust to the new timezone in advance. For instance, if you’re traveling to Europe, which is ahead in time zones compared to the US, try going to bed and waking up an hour earlier each night for a week. Even doing so for only a few days in advance will help.
3. Strengthen Your Immune System
If you aren’t already taking a daily multi-vitamin, starting two weeks in advance of your trip can help prevent illness. Vitamin C and Zinc have also been shown to prevent colds when they’re taken in advance. During travel, tasty tablets containing Vitamin C and Zinc can be great on-the-go options.
Of course, always talk to your doctor before starting any new supplements, as they could interfere with current medications.
4. Get the Proper Travel Immunizations
Depending on where you’re going, you may need to get vaccinated before you leave. And not on your way out the door. You should prepare for the types of travel vaccines you need and plan to get them about a month in advance.
Even if you don’t think your destination requires additional immunizations, it’s always safest to check the CDC’s up-to-date list of vaccine requirements.
5. Wash Your Hands
You’ve heard it a thousand times, but we’ll say it one more – wash your hands! This is especially crucial while traveling, as you’ll touch more things and come into contact with more people than you typically do. Be sure to wash for 20 seconds (sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to yourself twice – you’re special) and don’t forget to wash your wrists and in between fingers.
6. Use Hand Sanitizer
In between washes and when you touch something lots of other people have, use hand sanitizer. After touching the bathroom stall door, gripping the pole on the train, or picking up your own luggage after a flight, hand sanitizer is your best friend.
In case you were considering skipping the soap and water, hand sanitizer only targets bacteria. This means you’ll still need to wash your hands if you’d like to fend off viruses as well.
7. Prepare for Diarrhea
Yep, we’ll just say it – Diarrhea can be a real bummer of a problem while on vacation, especially in foreign countries. You can prepare in advance for stomach troubles by eating foods with probiotics and enzymes. Fermented foods like yogurt, kombucha, and kefir are excellent options. Ginger is also a great choice for stomach pain and can easily be transported in its dried form!
Finally, remember to keep drinking water in order to replenish the minerals you’ve lost. If the runs persist, eat as bland a diet as possible – think bread, rice, boiled potatoes, and tea.
On the other side of the spectrum, constipation is common while traveling as well. Get exercise, eat your veggies, and everything will turn come out alright in the end.
8. Stick to a Routine
Traveling can be stressful and when you completely throw out your daily routine, you run the risk of particularly increased stress levels, which can result in sickness. Healthy travel means balancing spontaneity and monotony. Your morning cup of coffee may not feel all that important at home, but practicing some part of your daily routine while on vacation can keep you calm.
9. Don’t Touch Your Face
We repeat: Do NOT touch your face!! Even if you wash your hands incessantly and practically have sanitizer glued to your hand, get in the habit of not touching your face. From rubbing your eyes and scratching your nose to picking and bumps and resting your chin on your hand, lots of face-touching goes unnoticed. Similarly, we touch tons of stuff unknowingly. While it may seem like you just washed your hands, you may be forgetting about that pole you grabbed to balance yourself on the train or even the fact that you pulled your luggage a few feet out of the way.
10. Drink Plenty of (Bottled) Water
This single tip factors into every aspect of healthy travel. Whether you’re dehydrated, jetlagged, or constipated (sorry to keep bringing it up), water can help. Try starting your day with a solid 16 ounces of H2O since you’re likely to get busy throughout the day.
When traveling to certain destinations, it may not be safe to drink water from the tap. Check out these maps before you travel to find out if you need to secure bottled water over the course of your trip.
11. Create an Allergy ID Card for Dining Out
Travel can be particularly difficult for people with allergies. If you have a food allergy or restriction, make an ID card that lists your allergies in English and the language(s) of the countries you’re traveling to. Pictures are helpful.
Do some research before you travel to find restaurants that may fit your needs. Travel agents and hotel concierges are great resources for input on restaurants that offer a variety of foods and/or accommodate allergies. Be sure to pack snacks in case you find yourself in a pickle, unable to eat at a certain location.
12. Don’t Forget to Exercise
Exercise is one of many natural ways to increase energy and can help you stay healthy while traveling. It kickstarts your immune system, balances stress levels, and naturally promotes sleep. Many trips involve lots of walking, but if you find yourself without much movement on vacation, find ways to get active. Whether it’s biking around, checking out the hotel gym, or doing a few jumping jacks in your room, exercise can become convenient.
13. Pack a First-Aid Kit for Illness and Accidentals
You never know what accidents or illnesses you may run into, so it pays to be prepared. Bring along a small first-aid kit that includes a few commonly needed items:
- Antibiotic ointment
- A fever and pain reducer (like acetaminophen – aka Tylenol. If you’re buying in Europe, you may need to ask for paracetamol – pare-ah-SEET-ah-mall)
- A motion sickness medicine
- Anti-itch cream
- Medicine for allergic reactions
- Stomach ache medicine
- Cold and flu relief medication
- Rehydration tablets in case of diarrhea
14. Plan for Anything YOU Might Encounter
If you know you’re prone to motion sickness, pack the necessary supplies like Dramamine and Marezine. If you have trouble sleeping in new places, consider ways to alleviate your anxiety. If you get blisters easily, pack adequate shoes and plenty of bandages. You get the picture… Nobody knows you better than you, so take time to envision what each day will entail and plan accordingly.
And just like that, it’ll be time to hit the road! Healthy travel is all about planning ahead, staying safe, and having fun. We’re here to help when we can… Give us a call to schedule travel immunizations before your big trip!