Traveling to a new place often goes hand in hand with getting out of your normal routine. These tips will help you stay healthy when you’re on the road.
- Stay hydrated. “While drinking water throughout the day, aim for eight-8 ounce glasses or about 2 liters to avoid dehydration,” says Melissa Darlow, a nutritionist at Nao Medical. She notes that certain foods can also help with hydration. Says Darlow: “Fruits such as mangoes, blueberries, papaya and blackberries are not only hydrating but packed with vitamins and minerals. Specifically, these fruits are rich in Vitamin C which plays a role in supporting a healthy immune system while on the go. Bonus points if you pair these fruits with a source of protein and/or healthy fat for optimal blood sugar control and satiety – such as fruit, a handful of nuts or Greek yogurt.”
- Wash your hands. “Washing your hands regularly is one of the easiest things you can do to avoid getting sick while traveling,” says Alyssa Wilson, RD and Metabolic Success Coach for Signos Health. “Remember to give them a thorough wash before meals, after using the restroom, and after you’ve touched a lot of different surfaces (like handrails, elevator buttons, and countertops). If getting to a bathroom to scrub up isn’t an option, carry hand sanitizer with you to minimize the risk of catching any viruses.
- Get vaccinated. Being updated on your vaccinations can help protect you from getting sick while traveling. “Since different areas of the world have different risks, it’s important to check with your doctor or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to see what vaccinations are recommended for the countries you’re visiting,” says Dr. David Seitz, the Medical Director for Ascendant Detox. “If you do need to get vaccinated, do so at least four to six weeks before your trip, so if there are any side effects, you have time to recover before your trip.
- Pack non-perishable snacks. Foods such as nuts, freeze-dried edamame, roasted chickpeas, protein bars and jerky are portable and nutritious. “Having a source of protein or a healthy fat on hand will maintain your blood sugar levels, keep you full, alert and ready for traveling,” says Darlow. “I would not recommend reaching for an energy drink, since most energy drinks contain over 30 grams of sugar and cause a huge spike and inevitable crash in blood sugar. So while you may feel that initial surge in alertness, it ultimately comes with a slump in energy and leads to fatigue. I recommend staying hydrated with plenty of water, green tea and if you do choose a cup of coffee, stick to one to two cups earlier in the day and with minimal added sugars.”
- Eat breakfast. Traveling to a new place often goes hand in hand with getting out of your normal routine. “While tasting the local cuisine is part of the experience, I recommend starting your day off with a balanced breakfast,” says Darlow. “Aim to eat at least 20-30 grams of protein with a source of complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. By doing this you will start the day off strong, keep your blood sugar levels stable and ensure a sense of normal routine. A great way to incorporate these nutrients is avocado on whole grain bread with scrambled eggs.”
- Pack OTC medication. It’s always a good idea to keep a few basic medications with you while traveling. “Things like ibuprofen, antihistamines, decongestants, and motion sickness meds might come in handy,” says Wilson. “If you have prescription medications, make sure to keep them with you at all times in their original containers with the doctor’s prescription written on the label.
- Prioritize sleep. Sleep is key to staying healthy while traveling. “Sleep helps keep your immune system strong and prevent any illnesses,” says Wilson. “Lack of sleep hinders your body’s ability to produce infection-fighting cells, increasing risk of illness.”
- Avoid junk food. Try to avoid foods high in refined carbs or added sugars. “A candy bar or chocolate chip cookie may be tempting, but can also lead to glucose spikes,” says Wilson.
- Exercise. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, use the bathroom furthest from you on the plane, do an extra lap before heading to your gate or at a rest stop. And while in the destination, walk, ride a bike, swim—do something active every day.
- Avoid risky foods and beverages. “When you’re traveling, it’s important to be cautious about what you eat and drink,” says Seitz. Avoid tap water and ice cubes made with tap water. Stick to bottled water, and only drink beverages that have been sealed. Says Seitz: “Be careful with raw fruits and vegetables, as they may have been washed in contaminated water. Opt for cooked or peeled options when possible. Avoid meat that is not cooked all the way through, as well as unpasteurized dairy products. While it’s good to be adventurous when traveling, sometimes it’s best to play it safe when it comes to food.”
- Be prepared for emergencies. No matter how well you plan, there’s always a chance you could get sick while traveling. Be sure to have travel insurance in case you need to see a doctor or be hospitalized while on vacation. It’s also a good idea to research the nearest medical facilities in the event you do get sick while away from home.