9 Tips to Help You Stay Healthy on Vacation

Monday Jun 16 | BY |
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Healthy Vacation

Vacation is not the time to feel sick—
use these tips to increase your odds of feeling great while away from home.

Getting sick is never fun, but if you’re on vacation, it’s the worst. Your miles away from your own remedies, your own doctor, and your own bed, and meanwhile the time you hope to enjoy is passing you by.

The best cure is prevention, so try the following nine tips to increase your odds of staying well wherever you go this summer.

1. Before you go.

The best thing to take with you on vacation is a strong immune system. Try to get plenty of sleep before you leave, and consider taking some immune-supporting herbs like cat’s claw, echinacea, olive leaf, garlic, turmeric, astragalus and probiotics for a natural immune-boost prior to your departure.

2. Be careful what you put into your mouth.

Renegade Health readers are usually health-conscious eaters, but what about when you go on vacation? The temptation is there to throw caution to the wind. After all, you’re out for a good time!

There may be no greater risk to your well being, however, than food you’re not used to, or worse, food that’s contaminated. Pack healthy snacks for the airplane ride—things like fresh and dried fruit, trail mix—and consider researching your destination ahead of time for farmer’s markets, Whole Foods stores, and other sources of healthy, organic foods.

Next, try to eat like you usually do at home. The more you can keep to your routines the more likely you are to feel good. Some people splurge on vacation, eating extra dessert and indulging in exotic drinks and meals that are full of sugar, fat, and salt. Have fun, but listen to your body. When eating out, consider taking some digestive enzymes with you to reduce the risk of stomach upset.

Traveler’s diarrhea remains a serious risk for vacationers. Make sure your foods are properly prepared, and choose cooked items if you’re not certain the raw items are free of pathogens. If you’re in an area where you’re unsure about the water, choose bottled over tap, and consider taking some Pepto-Bismol with you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that it has a mild antibacterial effect, and can decrease your chances of developing diarrhea by about 50 percent.

3. Wash your hands. Rinse. Repeat.

Cold and flu viruses can survive a long time on surfaces, and are rampant on airplanes and in airports. Keep your hands away from your face, and wash frequently with warm water and soap.

4. Don’t sit too long.

Traveling often involves a lot of sitting. In addition to being bad for your metabolism, muscles, and joints, it can leave you feeling fatigued and foggy. For seniors, it can also increase risk of a blood clot in the legs, which can migrate to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.

Move as often as you can. Use the airport to take a walk (as long as you have time between flights), get up on the plane and walk back to the lavatory (even if all you do is wash your hands), and stretch your shoulders, neck and back at least every thirty minutes while in the seat.

5. Freshen up the car.

Driving for long hours exposes you to a number of toxins. A 2008 study found that diesel fuel and the products of its combustion “represent one of the toxins most commonly encountered by people living in both urban and rural areas of the world.” These toxins have been linked with heart and lung problems, as well as cancer and hypertension.

In addition to the exhaust fumes, driving also exposes you to other road pollutants, construction materials, pollen, dust, and more. You can make the time spent in the car more pleasant by investing in a car ionizer. Unlike an air freshener, which just adds more chemicals to your environment, an ionizer works to clean, refresh, and purify the air in your car.

You can also try bringing some fragrant herbs with you. Place them on a paper towel in the back seat or somewhere else they won’t be in the way, and enjoy the refreshing scent. If you take something from the mint family, it may also help you stay awake and alert. A few drops of essential oil onto the car mat will also do the trick.

6. Find ways to exercise.

Once you reach your destination, it can be difficult to stick to your exercise routine. Suddenly your standard routine is out the window. If you usually go to the gym, you may find yourself without access to one. If you like to jog, you may not have a familiar route to follow. If you usually exercise in the morning, but your family expects you to join them for breakfast, you may lose your most opportune time.

Not exercising at all, however, can quickly leave you feeling sluggish and make you more vulnerable to illness. Worse, it can result in unwelcome weight gain waiting for you when you get home.

To stay fit while you’re away, try the following:

  • Set a goal. Could be as simple as maintaining your current weight, or getting in a few miles each day. Or—plan your trip around a special walk, run, or other active event at your destination.
  • Share your experience. If you have a blog or social media presence, consider sharing your goal with others, then let them know how you’re doing while you’re away. It will help keep you on task!
  • Try an app. There are a number of fitness apps online. Things like RunKeeper, Gorilla Workout (which gives you instructions for working out in your hotel room), or the 7 Minute Workout can help motivate you to keep moving every day.
  • Pack a toy. Frisbees, inflatable balls, and even baseballs are small enough to take with you. Whip them out when you have a few minutes and engage the family in a little active play.
  • Hit the pool. There are few things more convenient than the hotel pool. If you packed your inflatable ball, you can get the family involved in water play.
  • Explore. Find locations you can hike to, and explore at least a couple times a week.
  • Take your pedometer. It will help you keep track of how much you’re moving (or not moving) each day.
7. Stay hydrated!

We forget to drink water when we’re traveling. Often, we can go for hours without it. Side effects include fatigue, headaches, irritability, and more. Keep water with you at all times, and choose hydrating foods like melons, grapefruit, cucumbers, and celery. Coconut water also makes a natural, sugar-free hydrator.

8. Recover slowly from jet lag.

Time changes are hard on your mind and body, and can leave you vulnerable to illness. You may have been advised to go to bed and get up with the new time, but only the most hearty of us can actually make this work without feeling yucky (or zombie-like) as a result.

If you have the flexibility, try adjusting a couple hours at a time. Go to bed a couple hours earlier (or later) than normal, and do the same when you get up. Give yourself two-to-three days to adjust. A vacation is for rest after all, right?

You can also ease the transition by getting some time out in the sunshine, getting some exercise, consuming energizing green juices, and getting involved in activities you enjoy.

9. De-stress.

Most of us go on vacation to reduce our stress, and then find that we’re even more stressed once we leave home. The rigors of travel can cause anxiety. Once you arrive, you may have family expectations to manage, and uncomfortable changes in routine. You may not get the time you need to rest up, or restore your own mind and spirit to a healthy place.

Stress increases risk of illness, so try to work some de-stressing activities into your schedule. That may include meditation, a walk alone in the park, some time to journal, or a nice long jog on the beach. Whatever works for you, work it into your schedule. Allowing yourself those activities you need to restore mind, body, and spirit will increase your odds of better managing “vacation stress” so you can stay well and enjoy the time away.

Do you have other tips for staying well while traveling? Please share them.

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 17 years. She specializes in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, and more.

Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” was released with Jupiter Gardens Press in September 2015. Her literary novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” is forthcoming in spring 2016 from Dzanc Books. She lives in Idaho. www.colleenmstory.com

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