Secrets of staying healthy during holiday travel


Secrets of staying healthy during holiday travel

Traveling to destinations far and wide over the holidays can be stressful. Making it stressful is the fact it’s one of the busiest travel times of the year.  From families reconnecting with loved ones to others taking a much-needed vacation, travel from Christmas to New Year’s is bursting with masses of people.  The journey itself can be enough to cause undue stress – flight delays or cancellations, invasive airport screenings, to standing in long lines – these disruptions can affect your mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

As much as it is fun to get away, traveling during holidays brings its own special health concerns. Contending with cold weather, exposure to colds and flu, eating large meals and not much exercise, or staying up well past your usual bedtime spending time with others, all can take a toll on your health weakening your immune system.

To be able to stay healthy and fit when traveling during the holiday season and enjoy the journey there and back, a smart action plan is necessary. Here are secrets you need to know for dealing with holiday travel keeping you in tip top shape when away from home:

·      Get a full night’s rest

The night before you leave on your trip, make sleep a priority.  Get the packing and other preparations done early in the day, so you’re not driving drowsy on the road or feeling sluggish lugging suitcases through the airport. If you’re flying, take a nap if you can so you are more refreshed when you reach your destination. Arriving sleep-deprived will compromise your immune functioning making you vulnerable to viruses or other illnesses. 

·      Stay active

Keeping active while away from home is a must. Believe it or not, there are ways to still keep physically active when traveling. Whether traveling by plane, car, or train, wear comfortable shoes. This allows you to move much easier, provides better traction preventing falls, and your feet will thank you. If you have some time to kill in the airport terminal, instead of sitting down to wait for boarding, use the opportunity to take a walk. If traveling by car, every two hours stop and take a break to stretch or take a quick brisk walk. Even ten minutes can do wonders helping your feel more alert, energized and in a better mood.

·      Skip the in-flight cocktail, coffee and caffeinated beverages

Alcoholic beverages have a stronger effect when you’re imbibing at high altitudes and may enhance jet-lag symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, headaches or grogginess. Add to that list, they are dehydrating. Coffee and other caffeinated beverages also are not the best ways to stay hydrated. Stick with water – it’s your best bet.

·      Keep medications in your carry-on

Any medication you must take daily or regularly and can’t afford to lose, pack it away in a carry-on bag to have with you at all times.  Even if you don’t have to take a dose while in-flight, just in case your luggage is lost you still have your meds you need.

·      Outsmart germs

The best way to beat back germs is to frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  A hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol is another option for fending off germs. 

·       Be good to your back

Hauling and hoisting heavy suitcases takes a toll on your back.  Most suitcases have wheels reducing the time spent lugging a suitcase but be careful stowing one in an overhead bin on an airplane – hold the bag as close to your body as possible, bend at your hips and knees, then carefully raise it without twisting.

·       Keep moving

Don’t let deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism put a damper on your vacation itinerary.  The last thing you want to have happen while away from home is to develop a blood clot in a deep vein.  This can happen when traveling by car, boat, plane, or train, or anytime when you are sitting for long periods of time without moving which increases this risk.  Get up and walk around every 2 to 3 hours and exercise your legs while sitting: raise and lower heels while keeping toes on the floor and then do the opposite of raising and lowering toes while keeping heels on the floor.  Also flex and extend your feet several times each hour. 

·      Keep hydrated with water

Many of us may cut back on our fluid intake while traveling but this can only lead to dehydration leaving you feeling sluggish and fatigued.  If in a foreign country, stick with bottled water.  Aim for at least 6 to 8 cups of water a day.

·      Be choosy with food choices

Where ever you may be headed, enjoy the food - just don’t overindulge.  One of the highest likelihoods of sudden cardiac death is eating too much high fat, high calorie foods rich in triglycerides, a type of fat increasing after a large meal causing coronary artery inflammation. 

Also, prevent traveler’s diarrhea by eating hot, freshly prepared foods.