When traveling this year, you might be wondering how to stay healthy as you go. For sure, getting sick can sure put a damper on your trip.
Spending time in airports or places where people gather increases your risk of picking up the cold or flu, says the Journal of Travel Medicine. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to prevent catching a virus while in transit. Here are five tips — such as eating immune-boosting foods — to help you stay well during your holiday travels.
1. Get a Flu Shot
Getting the flu vaccine is absolutely the best way to reduce your chances of catching and spreading the flu. The flu vaccine boosts your immune system to help your body fight off viruses that cause influenza.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it takes about two weeks for the flu shot to provide protection, so try to get one as soon as possible. Fortunately, flu vaccines are readily available in many locations, possibly even at your local pharmacy. Your doctor can also administer the vaccine.
2. Avoid Germs
Most contagious viruses and bacteria are transmitted when you touch a contaminated surface. Simply grabbing the doorknob of the airplane bathroom and then touching your eye, nose or mouth is enough to get you sick. Here's how to avoid that from happening:
- Wash your hands, including your fingernails, regularly with soap and water, or with an alcohol-based sanitizer.
- Use a paper towel or tissue to open door handles or turn off water faucets.
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes after touching something a sick person might have touched.
- Use disinfecting wipes to swab armrests, tray tables and other surfaces.
- Stay at least six feet away from anyone who appears ill or who is coughing or sneezing.
3. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is crucial for healthy travel, especially if you're flying. The mucous membranes in your nose are part of your body's natural defense against bacteria and viruses. The air in an airplane cabin is extremely dry; dehydration and dry air can desiccate nasal passages, which can make you more susceptible to a fellow passenger's flu-packed sneeze.
Be sure to carry bottled water when traveling and avoid drinks with caffeine and alcohol. Packing some Pedialyte® Power Packs in your carry-on is a great way to help you rehydrate.
4. Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep helps keep your immune system strong. The Mayo Clinic says that lack of sleep increases your risk of getting sick.
Try to get a good night's sleep the day before you travel, and maintain a regular sleep schedule as much as possible while on your trip. Here are a few tips to help you get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep every night:
- Keep your room cool at night.
- Minimize your caffeine and alcohol consumption.
- Avoid electronic devices such as smartphones and e-readers for at least an hour before going to bed.
- Travel with an eye mask and earplugs and get some rest while in transit.
5. Eat Healthy
Maintaining a good diet will keep you healthy year-round, but especially while you're traveling. Eating a balanced diet, with a focus on whole and immune-boosting foods, goes a long way toward supporting your immune system and fighting off infection.
By following these simple tips, you'll know how to stay healthy while traveling.