This week I've been really sick with a disgusting stomach flu. I'll spare you the details, but it reminded me of how I used to get horribly sick every time I traveled anywhere. It's a total bummer, but I've finally gotten over that and learned to take care of myself before leaving, while flying and during my trip, so that I can make the most of my time and not be all gross and sickly when I'm away from home. If you worry about getting a bug or picking up all those foreign germs everywhere you go, here are some of my top tips to keep healthy so you can enjoy yourself.
Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is one of the first rules of travel. If you are constantly on the go, you are going to get tired and your body won’t have the chance to recharge itself. What to hate everyone and everything on your trip? Then sleep as little as possible and try pack as much as you can into the time you have.
Lay off the alcohol
Drinking too much can affect your sleep cycle and also dehydrate you and make you more tired, leave you open to getting sick and sometimes cause you to have bad judgment that results in even worse consequences. Don’t waste your money at the bar. Limit your drinking to a few glasses of whatever you find interesting that day and you’ll see a big difference in your health and happiness…and you’ll get out of bed before noon and probably not wake up at the police station or some stranger’s bed.
Drink more water
Instead of alcohol, carry around a bottle of water and drink as much as possible. A hydrated body is a happy body. At least drink as much as you would if you were at home, if not more. Travel has a way of sucking all the moisture from you, especially on long plane rides, so if you don’t like plain water, do what I do and load up on those ice tea packets from Lipton or Crystal Light.
So, you just want to lounge around by the pool and get tan and eat yummy food and do nothing for a week or two? As exciting as that sounds, you COULD, in fact, do the same things at home and not pay hundreds (or thousands) on airfare and hotel. Sure, soaking up some sun and doing absolutely nothing is fine, but make sure you get up and get some exercise, otherwise you’re going to notice that your pants don’t fit very well and you might start to feel sniffly. Exercise is good for you and you’ll be eating a lot more calories on vacation than you would at home, so offsetting those potential LBs is always a good thing. Take a walk to the shops and you won’t even notice you’re getting a workout.
I love these things. I keep some in my travel bag all the time, just in CASE I start to feel a bit tired or a sniffle starts making itself present. They come in tasty flavors and are like candy, so pop 3 or 4 throughout the day when you start to feel a bit run-down and overload your body with Vitamin C. Your immune system will jump-start, especially if you make time for a nap of some kind. If you don’t give your body enough time to rest, it will make sure you do it when it is needed, so head it off early if you get a little too excited about seeing everything there is to see on vacation in one day. These are also a good alternative to Emergen-C and Airborne, because they are cheaper and don’t require water to make them work.
Going to a country that has questionable food or you have a weak stomach for new foods and bacteria? Bring along some charcoal tablets and take them before you eat. The charcoal filters bacteria and keeps you from getting sick. These are particularly good if you plan on eating a lot of street food in foreign countries.
Olive Leaf capsules
I swear by these and take them all year round. Olive leaf is a natural supplement that raises your immune system and keeps you from picking up every little bug there is. You can find them at natural food stores and GNC stores. Make sure if you only want them for vacation that you start taking them one-two weeks before you leave, so they have a chance to start working for you.
Sometimes you eat too much, or you eat something that your tummy really isn’t sure is the best food of the day. Digestive problems can happen on the road, but papaya can really help. It’s found all over and is a natural supplement made from actual papaya that settles the stomach and minimizes bloating. It can also stave off mild heartburn. They are fruity tasting and chewable, so they are an easy take along in your day bag. Just take 2 or 3 when you start to feel icky and they help to work the problem out. Even my dog likes these, which is great when I see her go out to eat grass when she isn’t feeling well.
Allergy pills & other meds
Do you have allergies? You never know how they will react in a different climate, so make sure you bring extra pills along with you while you’re out and about. The same goes for medications. Keep them in your carry-on when you fly and make sure you have enough for your whole trip. If you don’t, call your doctor or pharmacy to get more before you travel. If you are dependent on medication each day, it will suck to be without them for a day or more. Being prepared will always pay off.
When you travel, I can guarantee you that germs are everywhere! From the escalator handrail to the airplane tray table. You can’t always get to a place to wash your hands, or you may want to wipe something down, so bringing any of these is a good idea. I opt for wipes, because you can use them on anything and they can just go in your carry-on instead of your 3-1-1 bag.
Wash your hands
When you ARE within the vicinity of a sink with running water, make sure you wash your hands. Often. Beat those germs at their own game and also keep from transferring them to your face and making yourself sick.
A combination of downtime and getting enough sleep will surely keep you on top of your game when traveling. You’ll feel better and you’ll have more energy. I know it’s exciting to do as much as possible. I pack my days full of fun things to do, but I also make sure we have time to relax. Traveling in the fall and winter forces you to slow down, because the hours for shops and attractions are shorter. If everything closes at 6pm, you really only have a choice of late-night bars or dinner and laundry before bed. I always opt for going back to my hotel/apartment and chilling for a bit, then changing clothes, going to eat and coming back to do email, read a book or play a game. You will notice how much more rested you feel and when you get up the next morning – NOT at the crack of dawn, because things don’t open until 9 or 10am – you’ll be more ready to start your day.
Bring healthy snacks
Snacks are important. You’re burning more energy than usual (or I hope you are), so you need to keep it up with nutritious snacks in between meals. I keep granola bars and nuts in my bag that are protein-packed and won’t slow me down. Fruit is also a good travel companion, but they don’t all survive rolling around in your day bag or carry-on, so choose wisely. Oranges, bananas and apples do pretty well and are somewhat easy to eat on-the-go, as are celery and carrot sticks.
Sometimes you’re having such a great time you just plain forget to eat. Not me. I’m hungry all the time on vacation. But if you’re not like me – like my husband – you will be so engrossed in what you are seeing/doing, you totally don’t eat until you are so hungry you could eat your own foot. Plan meals into your schedule and go even if you don’t feel like eating. A regular schedule is important and even if you don’t eat much, it’s better than skipping a meal altogether. It also helps if you don’t overeat, which I am likely to do on vacation. If I know I’m not starving, then I get Eric to split something with me, because we can always grab a nibble later if we get hungry again.
Have you had a trip spoiled by sickness?