When it comes to traveling, any season is travel season. I have traveled by plane at least once a year for most of my adult life. It was only recently that I had to figure out how to stay healthy while traveling.
It all started when I became very sick after an international flight last year. I had traveled to the U.S. with my family for a reunion. I was fine on the way over and all while I was visiting. But when I arrived home, I came down with a severe chest infection that required a doctor’s visit and a 10-day prescription for antibiotics. Even after I finished my medication, I still wasn’t back to normal for another two weeks. I’m convinced that I picked up something on the return flight home. So a one-month recovery from a two-week trip!
I thought that planes were cleaned between flights but I have not been able to find a definitive answer about that. I know that the trash is emptied and the seats and rows are cleaned up between flights but I don’t think the crew has enough time between flights to wipe down seating areas. Airlines are under a lot more pressure these days and seem to have their planes ready for the next flight within an hour or so of landing. This makes it more important than ever to know how to stay healthy while traveling.
The following tips are especially important if you are traveling with young children.
They are even more susceptible to getting sick. Your trip will be a miserable one if you or your children are sick.
How to Stay Healthy While Traveling
Stock up on Vitamin C
If I know that I’m going to be traveling at a colder time of year–basically anytime outside of summer–I start prepping my body ahead of time. A week or even a few days before my trip, I’ll have 1000 mg of Vitamin C–a tablet dissolved in a glass of water–with my breakfast each morning. I’ll also take a package of Vitamin C tablets with me and have one each day I’m away and for a few days when I get back.
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin. It will not be retained in your body. So any excess Vitamin C your body doesn’t need is released via your bladder. If you are concerned about taking too much Vitamin C then cut the dosage back to 500 mg.
Overcoming Jet Lag – Obey your body clock!
If your body is sleep deprived, you are putting your health at risk because your body is simply too tired to fight anything off. My international flights tend to be either to the east or west coast of the United States. So I lose anywhere from 5-8 hours depending on which coastline I’m on. I don’t commit to any engagements for at least the first night I arrive. If I arrive at 6 pm on the east coast, my body clock is really 11 pm. For the west coast, my body clock would be 2 am!
Even a few hours of jet lag can wipe you out depending on your fitness level. If you are flying on a long flight within the continental U.S., it’s still a good idea to give yourself at least a little time to take a nap or rest after your arrive at your final destination.
My husband is great at this. If we go to California, he can manage to stay awake til 10 pm. He will then go to bed and be completely adjusted the next day. I’m not that lucky. It takes me about 2-3 days to be completely adjusted.
If I’m coming back from Boston, I adjust much better. I arrive usually around 7 am into Dublin and get home by 9 am. I then jump straight into my pajamas and go to sleep because I’ve been essentially been up all night. (Let’s face it. It’s pretty hard to sleep on a plane!) I’ll sleep til 3 pm then get up. I can then stay awake til 10 pm and go back to sleep for a full night’s sleep and be completely adjusted the next day–most of the time! 😉
If you are into fitness, be sure to keep up the good work while you are away. Take walks, use the gym at the hotel, take a hike and get some fresh air. It’s all good for you!
Keeping it clean
After getting so sick after my last trip, I decided that this time I’m taking some antiseptic wipes with me on the plane. Just a small package to wipe down all the plastic around me especially the tray, tray handle and arm rests. Even the window blind if I’m lucky enough to score a window seat!
I also bring hand sanitizer to the rest room. Airplane rest rooms are known hot spots of germs!
I have always made a habit of having a bottle of water with me. If you are traveling by plane, the air inside the aircraft tends to be quite cold and very dry so it’s also a good idea to dress in layers.
And speaking of airplane air, it’s also a good idea to put a little dab of some petroleum jelly on the inside of your nose. This keeps the inside of your nose moist and also helps to block germs from adhering to the inside of your nose which can eventually cause you to get sick.
Bring your own food and/or snacks
As far as I know, all domestic airlines are actually charging you for food on their flights now. These meals tend to be of very low quality. There are any number of foods you can bring with you. At the bare minimum, I usually bring a bag of nuts, usually almonds, snack bars, and a bottle of water or juice. Some other great snack ideas are dried fruit, raw fruit such as apples, bananas, and oranges; cheese, crackers, peanut butter, savory and/or sweet muffins, trail mix, and oat bars to name a few. The other option is to eat at a restaurant in the terminal before you board your flight. You may even be lucky enough to bring more protein rich food such as yogurts with you. Check your airline’s website for details and restrictions before your travel.
Dealing with Allergies
If you or any of your children suffer from any type of allergies, be sure to check with your airline prior to travel to ensure that you can bring what you need in case of an emergency. This would include inhalers, diabetic needles, etc. Also, if there’s a chance that you or your children will need any medications during your flight, have a letter from your doctor ready stating that fact and present the letter if you are questioned either at check-in or the security check point.
Here’s a quick checklist for you:
- Drink Vitamin C for a few days before, during and after each trip to ensure your immune system is strong.
- For long haul or international flights, arrange to at least take a nap when you reach your destination to refresh yourself. Also, on the return flight as well.
- Pack healthy snacks, a bottle of water, antiseptic wipes and hand sanitizer.
- Dress in layers so you can adjust to any temperature fluctuations.
- Use the antiseptic wipes around the arm and tray area of your seat. Use the hand sanitizer frequently.
- Pack all necessary medications and doctors’ letters.
- I know this is a no-brainer, but wear comfortable shoes!
Guys have it so easy! They don’t really have to worry too much about footwear. I’m always amazed when I see women in the airport wearing high heels. I remember those days all too well! My feet hurt just looking at them! When traveling, I’d much rather be comfortable than a slave to fashion!
Traveling is so much fun. It’s a shame that your trip can be ruined by getting sick. By following a few simple tips, you can ensure that you will stay healthy while away. I’ve had to learn the hard way on how to stay healthy while traveling. I hope these tips have been helpful for you. Has your health been affected while traveling? Please let me know what your travel experiences have been.