Whether you are embarking on a fun-filled vacation, or on the go for work, crowded roads and airports are inevitable, and while traveling can be amazing, it can also be stressful and take a toll on your health. Here are ten tips to help you stay healthy when you’re on the road and in the air.
1. Catch some Zzzz’s! Have some down time in the car or a few hours to kill on the flight or during a layover? Try to fit naps in where you can, or at least close your eyes for some time to rest and relax. Physically traveling, crossing time-zones, carrying luggage, and walking all day can be harsh on your body, so make sure you get plenty of rest before you embark on your trip and during your trip when possible. Your body will feel more energized, and you will be grateful later.
2. Hydrate and don’t forget to stop to eat. When you’re on the move and focused on getting from one place to another, it’s hard to remember to drink water and even stop to eat a meal. Be sure to slow down and listen to your body. Pack snacks you can eat on the go, and always carry a bottle of water with you to stay hydrated even if it’s not always convenient to find a restroom on the road. Your overall health and ability to fight off diseases while traveling depends on a well-fueled immune system.
3. Hand sanitizer is your new best friend. Airports, buses, trains, and cars, especially public transportation, are just downright dirty. When traveling, you will come in contact with other people and surfaces that are teeming with germs. The last thing you want to do is touch your face or eat without washing your hands, and sometimes soap and water aren’t readily available when you’re on the go. Prevent the spread of germs by cleaning your hands regularly with antibacterial hand sanitizer.
4. Stretch it out! Sitting in the same position for hours on end in the car or on the plane stiffens your joints and muscles and can lead to all sorts of aches and pains during your trip. Try to get up and take a walk or stretch out your arms, legs, neck, and back at least once every hour to increase blood flow and to feel more refreshed. It’s easy to sneak in some neck and shoulder rolls, back twists, and leg stretches while you’re sitting, waiting in line, or at the rest stop. See more travel stretches here.
5. Indulge a little but not too much. It’s easy to grab fast food or indulge in that free airline cocktail, which is fine, especially when you’re enjoying your vacation. However, just keep in mind that heavy, unhealthy foods and alcoholic beverages can enhance jet-lag symptoms, such as fatigue, dizziness, and headaches, and can make you feel generally unwell. Again, be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, but also try to make healthy eating choices to keep your body feeling up to speed.
6. Pack a travel-size health kit. Whether you’re in the car, on the plane, bus, or train, you never know when you or someone around you may start feeling unwell. Packing a travel-size bag with an assortment of vitamins and general medications can really be a lifesaver. Be sure to bring any prescription medication you usually take, but also consider packing anti-motion sickness tablets, medicine for pain or fever, such as aspirin or ibuprofen as well as antihistamines, antacid, and antidiarrheal medication. Having medicine on hand while mid-flight or on a bus ride can really make a difference.
7. Brush those teeth! This may not be applicable if you are traveling for only a couple hours during the day, but if you have a long trip ahead, definitely don’t forget to pack an accessible toothbrush and toothpaste in your carry-on. Brushing your teeth after waking up from a long nap or eating a meal helps wash away any bacteria that may be building up in your mouth, keeping the area clean and free from germs. Also, your neighbor and other travel companions will thank you for the fresh breath.
8. Stay calm. Flat tire, delayed flight, lost luggage, large crowds, turbulence, the list goes on and on. Everyone has their own travel horror story and everyone can reflect back to the level of stress they were feeling during that situation. High stress levels can certainly negatively impact your health, so it’s important to try to stay calm, whatever the situation. You can do breathing exercises anytime and anywhere. Take a deep breath, hold it, exhale, and repeat. Focusing on breathing and staying calm can help counter the stress and anxiety of traveling.
9. Get vaccinated. It’s important to stay up to date on routine vaccinations to keep children, families, and communities healthy and to prevent illness and the spread of diseases. If you are traveling out of the country for the holidays, make sure you are aware of the vaccinations that may be required in order to enter the country you are traveling to. To see which ones you might need, check with your doctor or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To make an appointment for a vaccination, check out our WorkLife Travel Health Clinic.
10. And lastly, wear socks. This is particularly important if you will be traveling by plane. Usually, when passing through security you are asked to remove your shoes. You can bet those floors see a lot of bare feet, especially during high-traffic travel times such as during the summer or over holidays. The floor is a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi and who wants to deal with that when they get back from vacation? Wear socks, protect those toes, and have safe travels!