The WellBe Guide to Staying Healthy While Traveling: 4 Healthy Travel Hacks

It’s finally summer! Which means that more likely than not, you’ll be traveling at some point. That means tons of fun and relaxation…unless you get sick. And between germy surfaces on planes (when was that pillow washed?), a lack of healthy food options on the road, and the general stress of travel, travel can often make that more likely. Luckily, staying healthy while traveling isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Just follow the four simple tips below to feel great during (and after) your next vacation.

1. Watch out for parasites

The parasites in food and water in other countries are different than what your body is used to, so you haven’t built up immunity to them — which means they’re more likely to get you sick. Prevent that by avoiding any uncooked foods or unfiltered water (yes, that means no salads). You may end up drinking more bottled water than you normally would, but we think it’s better to be safe since it’s only temporary. Certain places and countries have a greater risk for certain infections so look at the CDC’s list of recommendations and then do some more research to ensure you are only getting the vaccines and medications you really need. For example, if you’re traveling to a country with malaria near the coast but you are only going to the mountainous region with high altitude and no Malaria risk, you may not need to take malaria pills.

2. Boost your immunity

Travel means tons of germs: tray tables, drinking fountains, and toilet flush buttons are all breeding grounds for bacteria, and planes recirculate 10-50% of cabin air, which makes you more susceptible to infectious disease and fumes from the engine. You may also be exposed to pesticides sprayed in planes, which the American Association of Professional Flight Attendants thinks is linked to respiratory problems, sore throats, and headaches. Combat these issues by:
  • Covering your mouth when you sneeze/cough
  • Washing your hands
  • Asking the airline if they spray insecticides before booking
  • Eating and drinking immune-boosting foods before, during and after flights
  • Drinking tons of water (remember, flying is super dehydrating!)

3. Pack your own organic snacks

This is an easy way to lower the changes that you get sick by eating the wrong thing while traveling. Some easy and healthy snack ideas are cut veggies and hummus, nuts/seeds or nut butter and fresh fruit like an apple or banana which are easy to transport and eat, or berries.

4. Manage your overindulgence

It’s vacation, we all indulge. But you can make that overindulgence hurt less (and avoid a hangover turning into a full-on cold) by doing a few things:
  • Save your indulgences for those amazing, local meals with fresh ingredients rather than processed snacks on the road with high (and low-quality) sugar and salt content: think the town specialty at the family-run restaurant known for it, rather than a bag of chips at the airport. Even if the ingredients aren’t particularly healthy, eating whole foods is always better than processed.
  • Book restaurant reservations known for high-quality, healthier fare rather than those where you know it will be hard to find something healthier on the menu. 
  • Bring sneakers and try to walk everywhere (or even get in a more intense workout if you’re up for it!). If you don’t want to go to a gym on your vacation, walking everywhere means you’ll get to see more of where you are traveling to, and even a brisk walk is a form of detoxification.

5. Protect Your Sleep

  • Try not to drink too much alcohol or heavy meals close to bedtime, since both lead to poor quality sleep.
  • It’s likely that you will stay up later than usual so avoid booking early morning activities. If you can’t sleep in or at least get 8-9 hours of sleep each night on vacation, when can you??
  • If you’re staying in a hotel book your hotel room midway down the hall, away from the elevator, where it’s quieter and you can get proper rest. And if you’re staying in a city, request a room on the back side of the hotel (not on the street) as it will be quieter.
Whether you’re going far afield or staying close to home this summer, don’t take away from your vacation by returning home feeling terrible. Now that you know all the ins and outs of staying healthy while traveling, let us know if you use or have used any of these strategies in the comments below! Bon voyage! 

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