Healthcare 101: How Not to Get Sick during Holiday Travel

Healthcare 101: How Not to Get Sick during Holiday Travel

The holiday season is nearly synonymous with traveling. Whether it’s a 4-hour car drive to see family, or a long plane ride to someplace exotic, traveling during the holidays can help you catch up with loved ones and recharge your mental batteries for the new year.

But all of this traveling could come at a cost.

With traveling comes changes in habits, a tendency to indulge in food and drink, as well as exposure to germs your body isn’t equipped to ward off. If you aren’t prepared for the "what-if's" before you hit the road, you might come back home worse off than the day you left.

Not to fear! Here’s how you can avoid getting sick no matter what holiday travel plans you have up your sleeve.

1. Sleep tips if you’re traveling across time zones

Sleep is an integral part of maintaining health and wellness -- not to mention when you’re tired, your body will think it’s hungry, causing you to eat when you don’t need to do so.

But maintaining healthy sleep habits when traveling across time zones is a daunting task. If you’re traveling from west to east (or internationally), try to get some sleep on the plane ride. You can do this by using a natural sleep aid, such as melatonin.

If, however, you’re traveling east to west, you might be tempted to stay up as late as the folks who live there. But keep in mind, 9 p.m. in Seattle is midnight in Boston. As much as you want to stay up with your friends and family on the west, fight the urge. They’ll understand.

2. Don’t alter your diet radically

Part of the excitement of traveling is getting to indulge in local cuisine. Even if you’re traveling within the same country, different regions are known for their unique food and drink.

However, if you go all-in with the locals' diet, you may discover that your stomach isn’t up to the challenge.

Maintaining balance is key. Consider trying out new foods for one meal each day, and sticking to your typical fare for the rest of the day.

3. Drink lots of (clean) water

Your body relies on water to do just about everything. The positive influence of water is even more apparent when your body is rundown, tired, or exposed to unfamiliar germs (all things that occur when you travel).

Dehydration not only makes you more susceptible to infections, but it also makes it harder for your body to recover if it does become infected.

The solution is simple: drink plenty of water. Keep in mind, alcohol and coffee do not count as “water.” While the water found in coffee is a net positive, you’re still better off going straight to the source.

The source, in most cases, is bottled or treated water. Sure, most tap water is safe to drink; however, your stomach might not be able to handle the bacteria specific to the tap water where you’re traveling. Play it safe and drink only from treated sources (and wash your fruits and vegetables with that same, clean, water).

4. Get unique with exercises

Some people make it a point to exercise while traveling during the holidays. Either they go for a hike, ski, or take part in some other activity.

Others, however, leave their running shoes at home and look forward to a few days of rest and relaxation. If you fall under that latter category, you might be putting yourself at risk of a cold or some other infection.

Exercise helps the body’s immune system ward off infections. But if you’re not interested in taking a 3-mile jog after polishing off that piece of pie, no worries. You can sneak some exercise into your day by walking as often as you can.

For example, if you go to a store, park your car farther away than you might normally do. Those extra steps can help.

Are you visiting a region that’s terribly cold during the holidays? Take a trip to the mall. You can combine walking and shopping all into one trip!

You can stay healthy this holiday season, no matter where in the world you travel.

There’s no denying that traveling does a number to one’s physical and mental well-being. Change in climate. New foods. Exhausting schedules. It’s easy to see why most holiday travelers return home feeling rundown or sick.

By following these four tips above, you can improve the chances that your holiday getaway will leave you feeling better off than before you hit the road. And if you do happen to have a need for urgent care over the holidays, remember CareSpot has a variety of locations with holiday hours to serve you.