Staying healthy on the road often presents numerous challenges. While traveling is an exciting venture because of the exposure to new people and environments, it is also these very elements that contribute to new breeding grounds for unfamiliar germs and bacteria. The key to avoiding getting sick while traveling is to combat the factors that cause illness. These are some simple steps for how to travel safe and healthy.
Stay healthy on your travels by nourishing your body with water. Dehydration not only causes fatigue, but also exacerbates jet lag. Carry a water bottle with you to refill throughout the day. Stay especially hydrated on your flights where high altitudes and low cabin pressure directly contribute to dehydration. Unfortunately, booze and caffeinated drinks don’t count, as absorption of their high sugar and fat levels dehydrates the body. So be sure to add in some water between your nights out or afternoons spent in European coffee shops.
Catch your Z’s
Sleep deprivation reduces your body’s ability to ward off and respond to those pesky bugs. Beating jet lag quickly and establishing a regular sleeping pattern is essential to any healthy travel routine. Catch your Z’s on your long-haul flight if you’re arriving at your destination in the morning, and expose yourself to as much daylight as possible on that first day before lying down for a sound and restful sleep in the evening. Conversely, if you’re arriving at your destination in the evening, try to stay awake during the flight so you can retreat to that comfy bed in your hotel room when you land.
Maintain a well-balanced diet
Being on vacation often means indulging in rich meals at restaurants and eating out almost every night. With enticing menus of foreign dishes and exotic ingredients, it’s easy to allow your vacation mood and the “just spoil yourself” mantra to overshadow the importance of portion control and eating well-balanced meals. For in between meal times, most on-the-go or snack foods are high in refined carbohydrates and processed sugars. So whether you find yourself traveling for long hours between destinations or on a road trip through the National Parks of America, opt for water-rich fruits and vegetables like strawberries and cucumbers to snack on to leave you hydrated and healthy.
When you sit down to a meal in that fancy restaurant you booked weeks ago - let yourself enjoy it! But keep in mind portion control and don't go overboard.
Be a Germaphobe
For many of us, biting our nails and rubbing our eyes when we’re feeling sleepy are instinctual. But after meeting fellow travelers and shaking their hands, or making your way through a hostel, it’s best to refrain from sticking your hands in your eyes, mouth or nose before thoroughly washing them with soap and warm water.
As the most effective defense against spreading illness and infection, always remember to wash up before and after a meal, and after using the washroom. Equip yourself with travel-sized hand sanitizer in case you can’t get to some soap. Finally, be the ultimate germaphobe by carrying disinfecting wipes for your flight. When your meal is served on that germ-harboring tray table in front of you, you’ll want to wipe away the remnants from what could’ve been used tissues or dirty diapers from the passenger before you.
Get Your Heart Pumping
Regular exercise not only strengthens the immune system but also increases overall well being. In turn, your body becomes less susceptible to falling ill and heals quicker even if the bug gets you. Staying active doesn’t have to cut into your exploration time. Opt for discovering a city on foot instead of taking the subway for a couple of stops, or climb to the top of that hilltop lookout instead of taking the cable car up. Compile a few simple stretches you can practice while waiting for your travel buddies to get ready in the morning. Whatever it is that gets your heart pumping a little, work it into your adventure. And who knows? It might be those extra minutes on the street that lead you to the most amazing discovery of the trip.