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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fixes for Common Travel Problems Part 3

As my trip gets closer, I'm trying to think of everything that could go wrong and what happened on my last big trip that I wish I could do-over. I don't have a time machine though, so I have to look forward and figure out what I did wrong and how to fix it. It used to be that every time I went on a trip I got sick. Fun, right? Makes you wonder why I ever loved going on vacation. Once, I caught a cold, that turned into a sinus infection and then became a horrible ear infection from the cabin pressure on the plane on the way home. I had to make two trips to the doctor for this, because at first he was all "Let's flush the gunk out of your ear!" Um...let's not. When I had to go back, because I couldn't hear anything out of my right ear and explained my problem again he proclaimed I didn't tell him I'd been on a plane. Yes, I did, but that's a whole new story about how I know more than doctors when it comes to my own body. So, I got some antibiotics and went home and all was right again in a few days. 

Winning the corn maze and health!
A trip to San Francisco turned into a souvenir photo of me looking like I want to die before boarding the boat to Alcatraz. A trip to Honolulu being interrupted by a search for throat lozenges with vitamin C. A trip to Victoria, BC had me begging for the driver to pull over so I could lose my lunch on the side of the road instead of his backseat. I'm sure I could go on, but you probably have your own stories. The point is, getting sick on vacation sucks, so don't do it. I know, easier said than done, but I believe strengthening your immune system by eating healthy and exercising is the number one preventative. That might help you under normal circumstances, but when you travel, you are also coming in contact with a gazillion germs from other travelers on the plane, train, tourist attractions and bus. how do you combat those?

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Get enough sleep
This is far and away my number one rule. It's easy to get so excited about your destination that you wake up early and go to bed late and not pay attention to that nagging feeling that you are just flat-out tired. Remember, you do not need to do everything there is to do at a destination. There's probably a three-page list of things you want to do, but you can't see it all in a week. You may not even be able to see it all in two weeks. Pick the most important things to you on the list and get into the mode that if you do those your trip will be a success. If you have extra time and can get to others, great, but if you don't, well, then you'll have a reason to come back! Overextending yourself will have you wondering if you even took a trip when you return. It's a hard lesson to learn and one I struggle with still, but I know if I don't get enough sleep, I will stress myself out and get sick. It's just a fact of life, so get your Zzzs.

I know, I know. You think I'm a broken record. Well, guess what? Staying hydrated is the answer to a lot of life's problems. I mean, it won't pay your bills or fix your car, but it can help you stave off sickness, jet lag, dryness and more. Drink. More. Water. I mean, it doesn't have to be plain ole H20. That gets boring. We take ice tea and flavor packets with us for water bottles, order ice tea at restaurants and limit our soda intake to some meals or just in our room. Drinking more water can even save you money. Try to get a handle on the alcohol, too, because this will dehydrate you faster than just drinking soda and make you feel terrible the next day if you think getting drunk every evening is a fun time.

Eat healthy foods
Yes, it's vacation and "calories don't count", but that doesn't mean you should gorge yourself on hot dogs and onion rings all day everyday. Believe it or not, eating fatty, heavy foods can wreak havoc on your immune system, so make sure when you're eating 40 desserts over the course of the week you also get your fruits and veggies in there, too. A few salads and vegetarian meals can be just as delicious and help keep you from getting a horrendous cold. Fact: French fries ≠ veggies.

Walk more
When you're eating more calories, it's important to offset them with more exercise. Taking the bus or driving is awesome, but if your destination is only a mile away (or less), strap on your walking shoes and hoof it. You'll see more of the city, the fresh air will invigorate you and you'll get your blood pumping. 

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Load up on Vitamin C
Even when you aren't sick, this is a good idea. It supercharges your immune system and helps keep the sickies away. If you don't like chugging orange juice or peeling oranges (guilty), then pack some vitamin c chews or even some of those Halls Defense lozenges. You'll feel better and you'll have citrus-y breath. Bonus!

Antibacterial wipes
These things are fantastic, because you can use them for everything, including the airplane tray table, the phones and remote in your hotel, bus seats, restaurant tables, your hands, your face. Literally, almost everything. there are germs everywhere. I normally keep sanitizing gel in my bag, but it's not exactly travel-friendly because it has to fit in your 3-1-1 bag and ends up spilling all over everything in your carry-on, even when it's sitting upright and not being squished by anything. Wipes go everywhere, can't spill and you can't use too much. Ever go somewhere and spill something and end up with sticky hands/arms? Use a wipe! Gone to a petting zoo and there are 900 kids using the two sinks? Use a wipe! Feel grimy from being on the subway and touching all the railings? Use a wipe! For real. Go pick some up on your next trip to Target or wherever you buy such things.

Stay healthy and happy on your trips!
It's been a while since I've gotten really sick on vacation, and when I have I can usually figure out what I did wrong...though you can't always account for the sheer strength of other peoples' germs from the airplane and other enclosed spaces. What do you do to keep from getting sick on trips?

If you missed the first two parts of this series, see them here: Part 1 on jet lag and Part 2 on dryness.

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