Staying Healthy While Traveling (White-Knuckle Traveler Series)

Welcome to the debut of my new series, White-Knuckle Traveler. Today: “How can I stay healthy while traveling?”

Nothing’s worse than spoiling a long-anticipated trip by getting sick, or coming down with a nasty head cold a few days after returning home. Here are my best tips for avoiding getting sick:

  • Vitamin D.  This is my surprise secret weapon.  My favorite is Biotics D-Mulsion Forte, with a whopping 2,000 IU per single drop.  These drops are an easy-to-digest emulsion that is tasteless and odorless.  Put one drop on a bite of food and you’re good to go. Start up a daily Vitamin D routine at least a couple of weeks before you travel to get your system in top shape.
  • Probiotics.  Keeping your gut in good overall health before you travel is going to be your best bet.  Three weeks before your trip, start taking daily probiotics.  My favorite is Yum Yum Dophilus chewables by Jarrow.  The best brands need to be refrigerated so have a secondary brand that doesn’t need to stay refrigerated to take during actual travel.  (Culturelle has several forms, including chewables and powder to add to liquid, that can be kept at room temperature.)
  •   Hydration.  Ever noticed how DRY everything feels when you travel?  You’re flying or in an air conditioned car, train, or bus, you’re eating more “go to town” food, restaurant food (maybe even every single meal for a week or longer), traditional travel snacks like chips and nuts are salty, you’re drinking more alcohol or even drinking alcohol instead of your usual beverages, etc etc.  No wonder you feel dry!  Any time you encounter a bottle of water while traveling, take it!  And drink it!  On the plane, in the hotel, in a gas station mini mart….take it and drink it.  I also like to use the in-room coffeemaker to make tea to sip first thing in the morning and last thing before bed at night.  I pack herbal tea bags like Sleepytime or rooibos and buy a giant jug of water at my destination to keep in the hotel room.  On road trips I even pack a real mug (padding it well inside clothes) and a cheapie plug-in kettle that I bought at the drugstore especially for travel.  It’s light and was under $15 so I won’t be devastated if it breaks.
  • Wipes.  WIPES ON A PLANE! (Imagine Samuel L. Jackson screaming it.  Get it?  No? Nothing?  Sorry….)  I recently flew next to a government microbiologist who gave the thumbs up to my plan to wipe down every airplane surface I had to come into contact with during our flight.  He said Wet Ones are better than sanitizer because they contain surfactant.  I carry wipes instead of liquid sanitizer because I never know what TSA is going to decide to confiscate and so far I haven’t had any problems with wipes. Put some in a ziploc baggie or get a travel size pack.  Target areas:  tray table, seatbelt buckle, window frame, arm rests, touch-screen video monitor, volume and TV controls, and anything else in your vicinity.  Save an extra wipe for your hotel remote when you arrive.  That remote will make you sick!  Wipe it!
  • Hand washing.  Just plain, old-fashioned hand washing, with warm water and lots of soap.  Do it at every opportunity.  Also this sounds weird, but make a purposeful choice to not touch your face, mouth, eyes, or nose.  Sometimes we do this just kind of mindlessly and now’s the time to stop this habit.

And finally, your trip is over, you’re back home, there are mounds of laundry to be done and stacks of mail to be sorted, but please take time to rest.  Just rest.  Travel, even for a fun vacation, is exhausting.  Build in time when you get back for rest and recovery.  Now is also a good time to get back onto your needs-refrigeration best quality probiotics, and you may want to add to your daily routine for a week or so:

  • Neti pot.  I don’t recommend this during actual travel because you’ll want to use filtered water heated to a very specific temperature and it’s just too hard to control that on the road.  But once you get back, using a neti pot with salt and warm water will kill any bad guys trying to establish a stronghold in your nose or throat.  Trust me; it works!

Happy traveling.

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