Summertime is prime vacation season. But just because you're taking a break from your day-to-day life doesn't mean you should take a break from maintaining healthy habits. Wherever you are going, these tips and tricks will help you to stay in tip-top shape, so that you can enjoy every minute of your time away!
Before You Leave
- Put together a mini emergency kit to prepare for any health mishap that you might encounter. Be sure to include bandages, antibiotic cream, alcohol wipes, pain relievers, antihistamines, sunscreen, and medicine such as Pepto-Bismol, that treats a variety of discomforting stomach symptoms.
- Get a full night's sleep the night before. This will keep you alert and energized during your trip and strengthen your immune system. The last thing you need during your getaway is to feel run-down or end up coming down with a cold.
- Eat a filling breakfast before you leave to prepare yourself for a busy day of travel ahead.
- Carry a bottle of hand sanitizer wherever you go to cleanse your hands when bathrooms are unavailable. To reduce the risk of illness, never eat anything without first using soap and water, sanitizing gel, or cleansing wipes to kill and remove bacteria from your hands.
- Pack healthy snacks like nuts and dried fruit. If you're going to be traveling by plane, pack these snacks in your carry-on luggage, since airport food options are often very overpriced, heavily processed, and high in unhealthy fats, sugar, and artificial ingredients. If you are traveling overseas, be sure to check with customs regulations since there are certain limitations restricting what food can and cannot be taken in and out of other countries.
On the Road
- Pack a cooler with healthy food options to satiate your hunger during long car rides. Places to eat can be far and few between, plus packing your own meals makes for a much better - and cheaper - choice than dining at greasy fast food joints.
- Stop, get out, and stretch your legs about every two hours to maintain healthy blood flow and prevent muscle cramping and stiffness.
- Eat meals at times that you normally would to regulate your metabolism. Lack of activity from sitting in the car for long periods of time can make it difficult to sleep at night, so maintaining set meal times helps keep your body on a regular schedule and makes it easier to catch some Z's.
- Make frequent bathroom stops. While it may be inconvenient and you'd rather power through a long drive, holding in your urine makes your bladder a prime breeding ground for bacteria to flourish. Stop often to eliminate the risk of infection and alleviate the discomfort of a full bladder. When you got to go, go!
During Your Flight
- Position the air vents above your head so that air blows down and away from your face. This will circulate the air and lessen your chance of acquiring a respiratory illness. The vents will help ward off sickness as they redirect air-borne pathogens from coughing and sneezing passenger away from your nose and mouth.
- Chew gum or suck on candies when the plane is taking off and landing to open your ear canals to alleviate sinus pressure. Avoid sleeping during ascent or descent so that you can keep swallowing and adjust to the rapidly changing cabin pressure.
- Wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer, since airports and airplanes are some of the most germ-infested places.
- Stay hydrated! Lack of humidity in the cabin can quickly lead to dehydration, so make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your flight. Dehydration contributes to jet lag by making you feel tired and sluggish. It also dries out the moist barriers of your eyes, nose, and mouth, making you more susceptible to infection. Try to drink eight ounces of water every hour of your flight.
- Avoid consuming alcoholic or caffeinated beverages as they worsen dehydration.
During Your Stay
- Make sure your residence is completely smoke-free before booking your room. A recent study discussed in this TIME article found 40% higher nicotine levels in the air of smoke-free hotel rooms that permit smoking in designated areas than the air in hotel rooms with complete bans on smoking. Because cigarette smoke from one room can permeate into every room within a building, book your stay at a location that completely prohibits smoking to eliminate the harmful risks of third-hand smoke.
- Remove the bedspreads. While sheets and blankets are regularly laundered, heavy bedspreads are cleaned less frequently and are prime locations for harboring germs, dust mites, bed bugs, and other mysterious critters (eek!).
- Skip the lift and take the stairs up to your room to add a little more physical activity into your day. You'll also avoid having to touch the buttons in the elevator - some of the dirtiest, germ-ridden surfaces.
At Your Destination
- Remember to exercise! While vacation is certainly the time for rest and relaxation, don't spend too much of your day lounging around as you will already be spending long periods of time sitting during flights and car rides. Aim to participate in some sort of physical activity for at least thirty minutes a day, even if it is simply walking along the beach or around town. It will help you overcome jet lag and sleep better at night.
- Everything in moderation. Take the opportunity to indulge a little (you're on vacation, after all!) but don't overdo it to avoid feeling sick and bloated.
- Enjoy yourself! Make the most of your getaway because the truth is, it'll be over before you know it! Put your worries aside and enjoy every minute. Try not to stress out too much and use this time away from home to refresh and recharge.
Will you be using any of these tips during your next vacation? Have any suggestions for staying healthy away from home? Leave a comment and let me know!