ANR Health: Staying Healthy while Traveling

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Staying Healthy while Traveling

Most of us enjoy traveling.  Getting away. Seeing new sights.  Not answering to a boss, deadlines, or emails.  Someone else making the bed.  And there are so many choices - road trip, cruise, city sightseeing, reclusive getaway. 

Whatever the choice and reason, staying healthy on vacation and returning healthy can make or break a trip.  No one wants to be held up with a cold while the others are enjoying the river rafting.  You could go, but you might get popped off the raft while blowing your runny nose during a white water run.

Common sense reminders from our childhood could just save a great getaway:

Wash Hands Often!! 
There are staggering statistics about the number of germs on door handles and no matter how you travel there are handles and railings: cars, taxis, buses, restrooms, hotel rooms, your own luggage.  Do you really want to think about how many people have held your luggage and did they wash their hands?  Once your hands touch the guard on the Disney ride and then you rub your eye or itch your nose, the germs are planted.    


Use the kindergarten trick of singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", while washing yours hands WITH SOAP.  (Of course, sing using your silent voice.)  This is a more thorough washing  than swiping your hands under the water or even using only hand sanitizer. Think about how thoroughly a surgeon scrubs to keep germs off you. Now strive for that type of cleansing.

Drink LOTS of Water
Traveling and change of routine can easily cause constipation.  Whether a mild case or a very uncomfortable and even painful case, it can interfere with a good time.  Drinking large amounts of water can help the GI track to keep waste loose. Enough said.

If going into high altitudes to ski, or hike, water can ease the effects of high altitude sickness.  Often people not used to being over 10,000' can experience headaches and nausea.  Drinking plenty of water (at least 8,  8 ounce glasses) and avoiding alcohol can help to alleviate these symptoms.

Dehydration can cause headaches.  Alcohol and caffeine are dehydrating and are consumed copiously while traveling.  If these substances are not going to be avoided, then at least match them ounce for ounce with water.  Again strive for 64 ounces of water a day.  And your skin will appreciate it, especially in dry climates.

Eat Better
This doesn't mean eat better than at home by having rich, creamy, fried or starchy food.  Quite the contrary.   This blogger once believed that calories eaten on vacation didn't count and after all - it's a vacation from life and common sense, right?  Wrong.  Paid the price with stomach aches and pounds.  To truly enjoy a trip you want to feel healthy with energy to keep up with the crowd. 

This means consciously consuming veggies and fruit.  Strive to have half the plate at any meal veggies and fruit and a quarter of it protein.  This will keep down the starches and carbs which can make you feel sluggish. If the protein can be a low fat fish, all the better. 

This can be done on a cruise.  Really!  There are fruit areas, salad bars and fish. 

Take Vitamins
It's actually easier to remember to take vitamins on a vacation than at home.  Pack daily packs.  Count out the number of mornings you'll have on the trip, take that many of these packets which have exactly what you need (multi-vitamin, calcium and Omega-3) and stuff them in your shoes while packing.  Then put them next to your toothbrush in the hotel room and watch them disappear each day.  One less thing to bring home, but you have boosted your immune system. 

Use Sunscreen
No matter the altitude or location, sunscreen is a must. We all understand the beach, but what about the mountains?  In Colorado and other high altitudes, the air is thinner, the rays stronger and you can burn faster.  Even if you don't see the damage, it's there.  Road tripping?  The arm next to the window is at the greatest risk for skin cancer. 

Apply sunscreen every morning.  Reapply if swimming.  Reapply every 2 hours.  No matter the age, everyone's skin is damaged and put at risk for disease without sunscreen.  It might be cool to come back from Aspen with a goggle tan, but those in the know will know how dumb it is.

Take your water, vitamins, sunscreen; order veggies and protein; wash your hands.   You will have a great time, you will remember it and you won't pay for it with your health.

Have a fabulous trip!

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