Vacation time is here! The flights and hotels are booked, the itinerary is planned and my bags are packed.
Then the dreaded sore throat and cough begins. Nooo….!
Does this sound familiar?
If so, be sure to follow these tips for staying healthy while traveling – and boost immunity BEFORE the trip.
STAYING HEALTHY WHILE TRAVELING
First, my sad story. Yes, that was me before our week-long Yellowstone and Tetons vacation that had been planned for months. The week prior to leaving, I got a sore throat… congestion…. fever…. chills….. and cough. My visit to urgent care 5 days later resulted in going home with no relief or medication as it was ‘just a virus’ and could take weeks to fully recover.
Unfortunately, my symptoms did not go away and I was still sick, but I HAD to go on vacation….sick or not. For months prior to this, I’d spent hours planning and dreaming of this week searching for wildlife, hiking to waterfalls and exploring the parks.
Armed with boxes of tissue, hand sanitizer, Vitamin C, Dayquil, Mucinex, water, etc. we began the journey. Luckily it was a road trip in the jeep so I didn’t subject my germs to others. David was a good sport in tolerating my coughing, nose blowing and more during the trip.
It wasn’t the ideal way I wanted to enjoy my vacation, but I had a wonderful time despite my illness. I am going to amp my Vitamin C intake weeks prior to any trip from now on!
Begin taking Vitamin C in addition to your regular vitamin and supplement routine. Pack these items to continue taking them as normal. Bring extra Vitamin C or Emergen-C to give you that extra boost that you will need since you are in new surroundings with different germs and bacteria.
Airplane Tip: Pack nasal mists and Vitamin C tablets in your carry-on. Airplane cabins are dry and microorganisms are free to circulate. Before boarding the plane, take a couple of vitamin C tablets to give your body the ability to fight off airborne germs. Use nasal mist to keep your nasal passages moist during the flight. This enhances your body’s ability to fight germs. You could also apply a small amount of Neosporin or petroleum jelly just inside the nostrils to create a barrier between you and the airborne germs. Use a Q-tip If your hands aren’t freshly washed.
Staying hydrated while traveling is an essential defense against germs. Water flushes your body of toxins, helps your digestion (which is associated with your immune system) and keeps you hydrated.
Carry water with you throughout the day – on the plane, at restaurants and on excursion activities.
Filtered Water Tip: When travelers get sick from drinking tap water, it doesn’t always mean the water is contaminated. The primary reason is your body is not used to the local bacteria. Stay healthy by only drinking from sealed bottles or cans, which are sufficiently filtered. The local tap water is fine to shower with, but keep a bottle by the sink to brush your teeth. And if you can, avoid getting ice in your drinks.
Pack your own over-the-counter medicines. You never know what drug stores, pharmacies, and medical care will be within close reach at your vacation destination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a list of What to Pack in Your Travel Health Kit.
Motion Sickness Tip: Pack a supply of ginger or motion sickness pills AND be strategic about when you take them. If you take the pills too soon you become drowsy. These are most effective 30 to 60 minutes prior to when you think you’ll be sick, and can be sedating. One Medical shares 10 Tips to Beat Motion Sickness.
Traveling means sharing a lot of public spaces. Surfaces like handrails, doors and elevator buttons were touched previously by many other people. Be extra conscious about touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Hand-washing is always best, but may not always be an option. Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for those times when you can’t wash your hands with soap and water.
Airplane Tip: Use sanitizing wipes to clean the airplane seat, armrest, touch screen or table; it’s your space for the next few hours and you want it germ free. Consider bringing your own blanket and travel pillow. The blankets and pillows offered you on the plane may have been used by someone on a previous flight.
Try to get a healthy 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night before, during, and after the trip. There might be a few late nights or early mornings, but make those the exception. Different time zones, noisy hotels and uncomfortable beds are variables that fight against us getting the sleep we need on vacation. The Healthy Travel Blog lists 5 Ways to Get Better Sleep While Traveling:
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Pack what makes you comfortable
- Address inconvenient light
- Block out noise
- Minimize jet lag
Eating the local foods is part of the travel experience, but many of these foods aren’t considered healthy. Moderation is the key here. If you eat unhealthy your whole trip, you will lose energy and increase your chances of getting sick.
Healthy Eating Tip: Pack healthy snacks with you and/or buy some when you arrive. Protein bars, nuts, fruits and veggies are the best staples. If you have a fridge, add Greek yogurt and cheese to the list. These food give my immunity a boost and I’m able to stay healthy on the go.
- Stay well hydrated.
- Travel with nose protection.
- Be on guard against food-borne bacteria.
- Beware your fellow passengers.
- Disinfect, disinfect, disinfect.
- Honor your inner germophobe.
- Fight for your right to fresh air.
If you plan to travel abroad, I recommend reading this article on the Nomadic Matt Travel Blog: 10 Simple Tips to Help You Avoid Getting Sick When You Travel.
And finally, if you want a fun twist on the subject, read these 18 Surefire Ways to Get Sick While Traveling from the Independent Traveler Blog.
Important Note: The information provided here is for general travel health advice and information only. It is not a replacement for a personal consultation with your doctor.
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