Nothing can spoil a great vacation faster than a health crisis, big or small. When traveling, contracting a stomach bug, a sore throat, or a severe case of the sniffles can make you wish you had never left home. Being sick in an unfamiliar place has its own set of challenges.
9 ways to stay healthy while traveling:
1. The first thing you should probably do before leaving home to go on a trip, especially if traveling abroad, is to call your health insurance company and make sure that you will be covered in case of an emergency. Tell them where you are going and get all the information that you may need if you should get sick or if you have any kind of unforeseen health issue. Be sure to make a copy of your health insurance card and information, and then pack these items along with your actual health insurance card.
2. As they say, “hindsight is 20/20” but PREVENTING these occurrences is the best cure. If you routinely take vitamins or probiotics, be sure to focus on consistency during the few months or weeks before traveling. Try to build up your immune system by eating a healthy diet and doing all you can to prepare your body for culture shock. And don’t forget to pack your vitamins for the trip.
3. Stay hydrated. This is important especially on a long flight, even if it means more trips to the restroom. Take an empty, reusable water bottle with you and once you are through security at the airport, you can fill the bottle up at a water fountain, NOT on the plane. Recent studies have shown bacteria to be present in water on planes. Depending on your travel destination, buying bottled water may be a better plan than filling up your reusable bottle every day. Drinking clean water is necessary for good hydration as well as for preventing sickness.
4. Move around a little bit while taking a long flight. Sitting in one position the entire time can cause a blood clot. Get up and walk around if at all possible, go to the bathroom, come back to your seat. Exercise your legs while sitting. Movement is essential for staying healthy while traveling.
5. Eat carefully and use common sense when choosing where to eat. Avoid eating at places that do not look clean. Make sure that any meat that you eat is cooked well. Do not eat suspicious-looking or -smelling foods. Do NOT, under any circumstances, eat food from an outside vendor.
Try to avoid eating all heavy meals. Plan to include at least one healthy meal a day by eating a salad or vegetables whenever possible. Also, during your travels, try to take along a healthy snack or two to get you through those afternoon “sinking spells.”
6. Exercise. Prepare for your trip by getting plenty of exercise. If you already have an exercise routine, try to continue this while on vacation, either early in the morning or at night before you go to bed. Runners can run wherever you are and if you work out at home to a video, this can be recorded on your phone to take with you. Many hotels have swimming pools and gyms which you can use as well. Traveling usually provides plenty of exercise anyway, since you do much sightseeing on foot in a new city. Try to avoid taking cabs and elevators and instead, WALK and CLIMB the stairs whenever possible.
7. Get plenty of sleep. Many times when we are unable to get enough sleep the result is a cold, a sore throat, or a general feeling of malaise. Start your day early and end it early if at all possible, and avoid drinking too much alcohol.
8. Keep the germs away. Use antibacterial soap to wash your hands, and wash them often. Keep your hands away from your eyes and your mouth. Also use hand sanitizer regularly and carry anti-bacterial wipes with you wherever you go. Use hand sanitizer after putting luggage into the overhead container, after shaking hands with anyone, and after exiting the aircraft, bus or taxi. Also sanitize hands after touching anything in a public area, especially in a public restroom. Use Lysol antibacterial wipes or Clorox wipes to wipe off armrests, food trays, and headphones. Germs can live for quite awhile on these objects. Also use wipes to flush public toilets or on public restroom door handle when exiting. Be sure to wash hands with soap after using restroom.
Stay away from anybody who looks like they might be sick; sneezing, coughing, or look generally ill. Those germs can be airborne and if you are nearby, you may be on the receiving end of a nasty illness.
9. Don’t forget the sunscreen! Being out in the sunshine is good for you, but sun-damaged skin is not. Pay close attention to using sun protection because a bad sunburn can not only cause problems during your trip, but may cause long-term skin issues as well.
A fun and healthy vacation is good for you and will provide lasting benefits in many areas of your life. Making smart choices and paying close attention to your health and well-being will help to guarantee a safe and successful experience.