5 Tips to Stay Healthy While Traveling
Warmer weather means spring break travel is right around the corner! Planning a vacation is fun—but an unexpected illness can throw a wrench in your plans. To avoid any interruptions in your long-awaited vacation, follow these five tips for staying healthy while traveling.
1. Strengthen your immune system
Making sure your immune system is well-equipped to handle your trip is a great first step to ensure healthy travels. The strength of your immune system can be impacted by several factors including age and underlying conditions. To strengthen your immune system leading up to your departure, it’s important to make and maintain healthy lifestyle choices. The following strategies can be used at any time to help reinforce your body’s immune response, and they will also help your body fight infections that you may encounter on your travels.
Don’t smoke. Smoking weakens your body’s immune system and can cause disease.
Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, and helps control body weight—all of which contribute to immune health.1
Get an adequate amount of sleep. Studies show that people who don’t get enough quality sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. During sleep your body produces infection-fighting antibodies which means that during periods of poor sleep, your body may not be as equipped to fight off a disease. 2
Minimize stress. Stress can lead to a variety of ailments including upset stomach, hives, and heart disease. Studies also suggest that chronic stress can negatively affect the body’s immune response over time. 1
Eat a nutritious diet high in fruits and vegetables. A healthy immune system is fueled by the food you eat. Studies have shown that micronutrient deficiencies alter immune responses in animals, so it is important to eat a diet that is high in vitamins and minerals. 1
To fill in any nutritional gaps in your diet, you may want to consider adding a vitamin or supplement to your daily regimen. Talk to your pharmacist today about the following vitamins to promote immune support:
Vitamin C is essential for a strong immune system, and a lack of vitamin C may even make you more likely to get sick.
Vitamin B6 supports biochemical reactions in the immune system.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps fight infections. 3
It is not always necessary for all individuals to take over-the-counter vitamins if they are getting enough nutrients from their diet. Consulting with a health care provider can help you decide what vitamins and supplements may be right for you and help you avoid any potential drug interactions.
2. Get vaccinated
Staying up to date on immunizations is the best way to protect yourself from preventable diseases. Getting vaccinated encourages your body to create antibodies that fight a specific virus. These antibodies work with your immune system to identify and destroy pathogens and prevent you from getting sick. To make sure you’re up to date on your vaccines, visit www.cdc.gov. If you are out of date, we offer the following immunizations:
Depending on your vacation destination, there may be recommended or required travel vaccines. Travel vaccines protect travelers from diseases abroad that are uncommon in the United States. 4 To check what vaccines you should get prior to traveling, use the CDC’s helpful destination guide or talk to your health care provider.
3. Stick to your medication regimen
A vacation is a break from your normal routine, but that doesn’t mean you can take a break from your medication routine. Adhering to your medication regimen is of the utmost importance when traveling. Neglecting to take your medications as prescribed can have serious side effects including hospitalization or death. In fact, the CDC estimates that 30 to 50 percent of chronic disease treatment failures in the US are caused by non-compliance. 5
4. Practice Hygienic Habits
Traveling often includes visiting highly trafficked places like airports, hotels, and tourist attractions, which means an increased risk of exposure to infectious diseases. Remembering these habits for good hygiene can help keep you from contracting illnesses:
Wash your hands after using the restroom or touching any public surfaces.
Sanitize when you’re on the go. Wipe down high-touch surfaces with an antibacterial wipe and make sure you have hand sanitizer with you in case you are not able to wash your hands with soap and water.
Be mindful of personal space. Although social distancing isn’t always possible, paying attention to your surroundings and doing your best to avoid people who are coughing or sneezing can help prevent catching a disease. Wearing a mask in public also helps keep those around you safe if you are contagious.
Don’t share food. If you are traveling with a partner or friend, steer clear of sharing any snacks, beverages, or cutlery to avoid transmitting germs. 6
5. Pack a first aid kit
If you do happen to get sick or injured on your trip—don’t panic! Packing a travel first-aid kit before your departure is highly encouraged by the CDC. 7 When preparing your first-aid kit, in addition to your regular medications, be sure to include:
Painkillers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin
Antacids, antinausea, and antidiarrhea medicine
Cold and cough medicines
Aloe for sunburns
Bandages, antibiotic ointment, and antiseptic wipes
Calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to relieve irritation from rashes, insect bites, or poison ivy
An EpiPen for individuals with severe allergies
Stop by your local pharmacy to pick up over-the-counter medications and first aid supplies before leaving for your trip.
You deserve to enjoy your vacation—don’t let an unexpected illness stand in your way! By strengthening your immune system, adhering to your medication regimen, and practicing good hygiene, you’ll be ready to stay healthy while traveling this spring.