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It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a...germ. Nothing can derail a dream trip or deflate your excitement on return, than getting sick. No matter how or where you travel, keeping healthy should top any itinerary. Road trip, cruise or flight, you can pack fitness, good nutrition and well-being into your travel plans by adding these simple healthy tips to your passport.
Water, water everywhere. But if drinking enough H2O of it isn’t one of your top daily priorities, it should be. Flight cabins are dry and humidity levels low, which make you a sitting duck for headaches, leg cramps, jet lag, and fatigue. Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to lessen the effects of high altitudes and low cabin pressure on flights. And no, alcohol, coffee and soda don’t make the hydration grade. Whether you travel by car or air, keep your water bottle close and refill often. Avoid tap water on the plane. Instead, grab an agua from an airport vendor before boarding. And using saline spray for dry plane cabin stuffy nose, just might be your handiest weapon against nasal and respiratory infections.
Whether trains, planes or automobiles, build exercise into your trip. Tucked into the car on a cross country road trip or in a cramped plane seat, your legs could pay the price. Studies show that long air flights and car trips can lead to deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots. Make frequent pit stops on the road and get your stroll on. Request an aisle seat on your overseas flight and get up every hour to stretch or walk an aisle lap. Do some mid-flight calf stretches, flex your ankles and consider compression stockings, which now come in nifty patterns. And when you reach your destination, walk instead of cabbing it. Who knows what amazing sights you might uncover?
Germs are everywhere — and plane cabins are some of their favorite residences. Disease causing bacteria can live comfortably there for nearly a week, making antibacterial wipes your best friend. Disinfect armrests, tray tables and restrooms. The CDC refers to hand washing as a "do-it-yourself vaccine," so wash hands well and often, and when you can’t, keep a hand-sanitizer handy. You don’t need to be a germaphobe to pass on in-flight blankets and pillows; your own cozy socks and sweater are more comfortable anyway.
From taking walks in National Parks to meandering through a major city — breathe. Hefty doses of just plain fresh air increase the flow of oxygen, which improves blood pressure and heart rate. Good old fresh air also strengthens your immune system and boosts energy. On flights, set your ventilation setting to medium so those pesky germs don’t settle into your personal space.
A cookie in each hand is not a balanced diet. Luckily, healthy food and snacks are what your body craves on any road trip. Pass up gas station lunches and greasy fast food for a homemade wrap, yogurt or cut up veggies. Keep a cooler in the car to avoid spoilage or stock up on foods with staying power like pretzels, unsalted nuts and crackers. Protein-rich snacks fill you up both on the road and in the air. Skip the pre-packaged, often too salty, processed airline snacks, and carry-on your own. Toss some granola bars, string cheese, carrot or celery sticks in your bag or nosh away on cut-up strawberries or cucumbers that raise your hydration quotient.
You can have too much of a good thing. Over exposure to sunshine can damage skin or eyes so protect both. Sunglasses aren’t just a fashion statement; they provide critical protection from dangerous sun damage. Eyes, especially light colored ones, are more sensitive to light so your sunglasses should protect against UVA, UVB, and HEV light. Polarized lenses help lessen glare, which makes for safer driving. The skin you’re in also needs protecting inside and out of the car, on the beach and in the city. Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection to shield against skin cancer, and prevent sun damage.
Drowsy driving is a thing – but it shouldn’t be your thing. Catch up on your zzz’s before you get on the road or share the driving with a partner. Stop for a quick power nap when your eyes feel heavy before getting back on the road. When your destination flies you across time zones, your natural body clock gets confused. We’ve trained it for sleep and waking so resetting your watch to your new time zone as well as staying up, instead of taking a nap after you land, will help your body adjust.
After all, good health doesn’t take a vacation.
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These articles present general information and are for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for legal, financial, medical, or other professional advice.