Traveling Thursday – Staying healthy while traveling

Travel can be rough on your body. Even a short trip means changing your routine and possibly throwing your system off kilter. Being sick or feeling a little off is never fun but it’s even worse when you are away from home, especially if you are wasting precious vacation time.

There are some basic things you can do to treat your body well and minimize the effects of travel.

Stay hydrated. More than half your body is made of water and if it’s going to function properly, you need to stay hydrated. The symptoms of jet lag can be compounded by dehydration. To take care of your body, be sure you’re drinking several glasses of water a day. If you cringe at the price of water in the airport, bring an empty bottle through security and refill it at a water fountain near your gate. Ask for water during your flight. Remember that drinks with alcohol or caffeine can make dehydration worse.

Be mindful of where that water is coming from. If you are traveling internationally, be sure to ask whether it’s OK to drink the water or not. In most European countries, there’s no reason not to drink the tap water but in other parts of the world, it can be more dicey. Ask your guide or the hotel staff. If you are encouraged to buy water, make sure you are buying a sealed bottle from a reputable shop. If you can’t drink the water, don’t eat the ice or drink any cold beverages that are mixed with water. Also, stick to fruits and vegetables that must be peeled in these countries.

Jump (well move) around. Deep Vein Thrombosis and pulmonary embolism occur when a blood clot forms in a large vein. This can be fatal if a portion of the clot breaks off and enters your lung. Most people associate the condition with long flights, say the 17.5 hour jaunt between Dulles and Johannesburg; but studies show that even four hours of travel in a plane, train, bus or car, can put you at risk. Walking around is a great way to mitigate your risk. If you can’t do that, you should raise and lower your feet/heels while seated. This PDF from the National Blood Clot Alliance offers some great prevention tips.

Get your Zzzz’s. Treat your body well and it will return the favor. If you are out late, then try to stay in bed a little longer the next morning. Remember that caffeine can make dehydration worse so don’t try to make up for your lack of sleep by downing mass amounts of coffee.

Watch what you eat. Yes, it’s vacation and you should feel free to indulge but keep it under control. Your body doesn’t want a steady diet of deep fried, fatty foods. Try to balance heavy meals with lighter options.

Pack the antibac and sunscreen. You’ll need them both. I got a sunburn in Scotland because I was expecting dark, dreary skies. You’ll likely have at least one intensely sunny day so pack a small tube of sunscreen.

This post could go on and on. There are so many easy, common sense things you can do to have healthy travels. For more great tips, and in depth coverage on things like vaccinations and region-specific issues, visit the CDC’s site for
great resources and tips.

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