Despite our best efforts to stay healthy while traveling, sometimes our bodies just can’t keep up.
Sickness from being in close contact with others on a plane, food poisoning, contaminated water, foods we aren’t accustom to, fatigue, and stress arise quickly in the chaos of traveling. Traveling is a surefire was to expose our bodies to a variety of opportunities for illness to settle in.
During my past several trips, I have developed some pretty great tricks and tips for staying healthy. Here are several steps you can take before, during, and after your traveling experience to make it healthier and less stressful.
What To Bring
Travel-Sized Bottle of Hand Sanitizer, Tissues, and Baby Wipes
This one is fairly self-explanatory. Hand sanitizer will help prevent picking up germs that are often prevalent in airports, on planes, and in bathrooms. In my experience, tissues are vital (especially in SE Asia) for overused bathrooms that are out of toilet paper. Baby wipes are perfect for a mini-bath while traveling. Feeling refreshing and clean is important for both physical and mental health.
Filtered Water Bottle
Bring your own, empty, filtered water bottle such as the Camelbak Groove. This is a great money saver, you can fill it up after you pass through security, and it provides fresh water no matter where you find yourself. Staying well-hydrated is crucial in enduring the rigors of travel and will help with jet lag. Skip the alcohol and sip H20 throughout your trip.
Electrolyte tablets, such as NUUN, are designed to keep you optimally hydrated and help you stay away from sugary beverages such as soda and energy drinks.
Supplements: Vitamin C, Magnesium, & B-Complex
Microdosing with vitamin C throughout your trip will boost your immune system and help fight off bugs. Take one capsule every couple of hours. Magnesium is excellent in aiding in a good nights rest, regulating bowel function, and relaxing the nervous system. A good quality B-Complex will help your body handle stressors, provide energy, and aid in boosting your immune system.
Ginger is a powerhouse root that boasts incredible anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. You definitely want high-quality ginger chews in your carry-on. Ginger is excellent for nausea, migraines, digestion, congestions, and pain.
Carry-On Approved Snacks
Pack a few gallon zip-lock bags filled with snacks into your carry on or checked bag. I recommend tea bags, oatmeal packets, high-quality snack bars like Think Thin or Pro Bar, Justin’s Nut Butter Packets, a combination of your favorite nuts and seeds in snack bags (no chocolate or ‘meltable’ ingredients), dried fruits, GoRaw cookies and crackers, snack sized zip-locks with 1 scoop of protein powder each, and any other non-perishable snack item you like. Bring along an empty mini-blender bottle for shakes on the go once you’re through security. If you must purchase something at the airport try to stick with fruits, veggies, yogurt, tea, fresh smoothies and juices, lean meats, sandwiches made with whole-wheat breads, and oatmeal.
- If possible, opt for the emergency row. Being able to stretch out your legs will help prevent Edema (swollen legs and ankles), stiffness, and blood clots. If leg room is not an option, make sure you are getting up to walk around, boost circulation, and stretch every hour or so. I use to have a serious problem with constantly asking the person next to me to get up, but eventually I got over it. Your health is important! Walk to the back of the plane, stretch out your body, and flow through some standing yoga. Plenty of airports now offer yoga rooms as well. Take advantage of this space while waiting for a connecting flight.
- Stay hydrated! I cannot stress the importance of this enough. H20 is vital for flushing your system, carrying nutrients to your body, keeping your mucus membranes moist, and keeping your digestive tract regular. Try to drink 8 oz every hour.
- Carry a second watch that is set to your home time-zone. This will keep you aware of when you should be sleeping or awake. Only sleep when you would be sleeping at home, stay awake otherwise.
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing as well as comfortable shoes. My personal favorite? Workout attire. Comfortable clothes are easy to layer (airports are hot, planes are freezing), wick away sweat, hold in heat, and usually don’t smell as quickly as cotton. Comfortable clothing will aid in circulation and allow you to move and stretch. You’ll also be ready for a climate change and any temperature extremes.
- I know it’s tough, but try to minimize stress and anxiety as much as possible. When you are stressed out, you get sick more easily. Organize all travel documents and place them in an easily accessible place before you leave for the airport. Check in before you arrive, if possible. Find your gate first, then go use the bathroom or find a snack. At some point during your adventures, your plane will get delayed – you might even miss a connecting flight. Take a breath, take a seat if you need to, get a clear head, and proceed to the nearest service desk to remedy the situation. The plane isn’t going to return for you just because you have thrown yourself into a panic attack. You might as well accept what has happened and keep yourself sane and healthy. (See my experience with Denver TSA and missing my flight here.)
Next Up: Packing list! After packing for a 2-week medical mission trip (international) in one carry-on, I consider myself pro. Stay tuned. In the meantime, you can read about some of my ridiculous adventures in Cambodia here.