Summer is almost here, and that means warn-weather vacations are right around the corner. Traveling can be an exciting adventure, but a sudden cold or flu can put a huge damper on your trip.
Unfortunately, your travels themselves can lead to a nasty bug that leaves you holed up in your hotel room instead of out exploring. Germs on the airplane, jet lag and foreign microorganisms can do a number on your body, and if your immune system isn’t prepared for a fight, your trip could turn into a week of bedrest, instead.
You’re likely to get sick when traveling
Because of the great number of potential pathogens you’ll encounter when traveling, it’s safer to be proactive, assuming that you’ll get sick, rather than get sick and try to treat it later.
Airplanes, in particular, are host to a massive number of bacteria and other microorganisms from people’s hands, luggage and coughing and sneezing. When you’re stuck on a plane with the same germs being recycled in the air, it’s no wonder so many people feel ill a few days later.
When you get to your destination, you may need to be careful, too. Some places may have water that isn’t safe to drink because it contains microorganisms or other contaminants that your body isn’t used to or can react negatively to. Be mindful of this and do your research before departing.
Use these 10 tips to get your immune system in shape and stave off sickness while traveling this summer.
1. Get vaccinated: The first thing you should do before jetting off on vacation is visit the doctor for a routine check-up and discuss your travel plans. Your doctor will be aware of any potential health risks known for that area and can recommend specific vaccinations to keep you protected from serious diseases.
2. Drink lots of water: When it comes to your flight, make sure you’re drinking lots of water before, during and after. Your body needs consistent hydration to keep the immune system strong and ready to fight invaders. Planes are notoriously dry, so hydration will help prevent additional side effects of dehydration, too.
3. Keep things sanitary: Plane seats, tray tables, seat pockets and armrests are perhaps the dirtiest things you’ll encounter on your travels. Since they are touched by so many people in a given day before being deep-cleaned, they play host to a plethora of germs. Bring sanitary wipes to wipe down your seat area.
4. Load up on nutrients: Before and after your flight, load up on immunity-boosting vitamins and nutrients like vitamin C. Eating foods heavy in probiotics can also help bolster your immune system, since a large portion of your immune system resides in your gut.
5. Drink bottled water or bring water purification: If your travel destination is known for unclean water, stick to drinking bottled water during the trip or bring a water purification system for tap water. Food washed with tap water can be dangerous to eat, as well, so make sure you’re being cautious when choosing food items in restaurants. The last thing you want is to get a stomach bug because of bacteria your body isn’t able to fight off.
6. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule: Along with water and nutrients, your body needs consistent sleep to stay strong and avoid illness. Jet lag can put a huge dent in your sleep schedule, so look into melatonin supplements to assist in the time zone change and sleep better.
7. Reduce drinking and smoking: Alcohol is not enough to hydrate your body, and both smoking and drinking can hamper your immune system, making you more likely to get sick. Having a vacation drink or two won’t hurt you, but make sure to maintain a healthy balance by eating well and drinking water, too.
8. Don’t run yourself down: It can be easy to get carried away and go, go, go while on vacation, but pushing yourself too hard can cause you to feel exhausted and run-down. Not only is this sure to cause moodiness and stress, but it can take a toll on your health, too.
9. Wash your hands: Washing your hands or using hand sanitizer is an absolute must throughout your entire trip. If you’re touching a lot of things in public spaces or animals, make sure to give your hands a good scrubbing multiple times a day.
10. Eat well: It can be tempting to abandon your diet and treat yourself with more junk food during your travels, but eating healthy, balanced meals is very important, especially after contact with all those germs. Keep your body fueled with the nutrients it needs to avoid coming down with a cold.
Don’t head off on a trip without stopping to consider your health! With a little preparation and attention to what your body needs to stay healthy, you’re more likely to stave off a cold or flu and have a great time on your trip.