Whether for business or pleasure, travel has become a necessary part of life for many Americans. Healthy travel begins with preparation and planning. While you might spend hours on essentials like tickets, and hotel or car arrangements, you can put the “I” in itinerary and spend little-to-no time planning to take care of yourself while traveling! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses three “P”s for healthy and safe travel: Proactive, Prepared, and Protected. Keeping these three concepts in mind, let’s look at some key areas of focus for staying healthy while traveling.
TRAVEL WELL, EAT WELL
One of the most difficult challenges when traveling is maintaining a good diet while you have been separated from your normal routine. A few helpful suggestions:
- Bring healthful snacks with you to the airport rather than relying on terminal food. The picture below has some examples. However, be mindful of produce restrictions when entering foreign countries.
- Seek out local, healthy places to eat, perhaps using some of the references listed below.
- If taking a client out to eat, don’t be afraid to state your interest in eating healthfully without imposing guilt.
- When eating in unfamiliar restaurants, seek out caloric and nutrition facts from the establishment or website.
AIRBORNE: IN A GOOD WAY
- Plan for any immunization shots you will need if traveling out of the country.
- Use antibacterial wipes to wipe down the armrests of the seat on the airplane and the food tray in front of you. Bacteria and viruses love to breed in those areas.
- Ensure you are wearing socks when passing through airport security. Bacteria and fungi live on the airport floor.
- Bring your own pillow and blanket. Since airlines have tried to cut costs, reusing pillows and blankets can breed parasites, bacteria, and viruses.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking at least half of your bodyweight in ounces of water can keep your body hydrated and help your immune system fight off diseases.
PREVENT FATIGUE WHEN TRAVELING
Fatigue and/or lack of sleep can occur when traveling on vacation or business. Here are some tips to help prevent fatigue when traveling:
- Figure out how many time zones you will be crossing. It may take one day per hour of time change to adjust, particularly when traveling east.
- Adjust your body to the environment. During daylight hours, stay awake. At night, go to sleep to adjust your body’s “clock”, or circadian rhythm.
- Drink water before flying. This can help keep the body hydrated and more relaxed for traveling. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Both can negatively impact your ability to sleep, thereby increasing the amount of time you are awake and further impairing the adjustment of your circadian rhythm.
- Use exercise as a way of “setting your clock” upon arrival. Do some kind of physical
activity around the time that you would in your normal time zone, preferably the morning.
- Consider a melatonin supplement as a short term sleep aid when crossing time zones.
HEALTHY TRAVEL CHECKLIST
- Do you have all of your documents ready (passport, ID, travel tickets, hotel/car information)?
- Do you have all of your financial resources available (cash, checks, traveler’s checks, credit cards)?
- Did you pack workout clothes and exercise shoes, along with any small equipment you can bring (DVDS, resistance bands)?
- How will you exercise during your trip — does your hotel have a gym? Ask me
for a travel workout that can be done in a hotel room or gym.
- Do you have the hotel check in/out time, address, and information?
- Did you pack any medications that you need?
- Have you found the local, healthful food stores, and restaurants? Check our resources box.
- Most importantly: Have fun and enjoy your travels!