Between an interrupted sleep schedule, dietary changes, and exposure to countless pathogens, traveling can be incredibly tough on the body.
A visit to the doctor's office might not be on your itinerary, but it's a very real possibility—and nothing has the potential to derail your carefully mapped out trip faster than a bout of illness.
The good news? You can drastically reduce your chances of getting sick or just feeling unwell by following a few healthy travel tips.
To keep you covered every step of the way, we've broken this guide down into three separate sections:
Healthy Travel Tips: Before you Take Off
Practicing a little self-love and taking a few extra precautions before you leave can make a world of difference. Remember: a strong body doesn't happen overnight, so use the weeks leading up to your trip wisely.
#1. Get Necessary Vaccinations Out of the Way
No one likes injections, but when it comes to avoiding infectious diseases, vaccinations are a must. While some vaccines are only necessary when you're visiting certain parts of the world, others can be beneficial no matter where you go.
Depending on your vaccination history, health, and travel plans, you may need some or all of the following:
Routine vaccinations: Are your standard immunizations up to date? It's a good idea to check before you leave home. These vaccinations cover common infectious diseases, like influenza, measles, mumps, tuberculosis, polio and more, that are known to occur in virtually every part of the world.
Recommended vaccinations: Even if there are no government-required vaccinations for your particular destination, the CDC recommends that travelers get itinerary-specific vaccinations when visiting moderate to high-risk areas. These vary from country to country, but often include vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, and Japanese encephalitis.
Required vaccinations: Yellow Fever is prevalent in some parts of Africa and South America and you may require a vaccination before you'll be allowed to enter certain countries.
Some vaccines require follow-up shots while others may have a window period before becoming fully effective, so don't wait until the last minute. Visit a travel clinic or consult your physician at least four to six weeks before your trip. Not sure which vaccinations you need? Find out here.
#2. Bolster Your Immune System
Scary fact: You'll find more bacteria on an airport security screening tray than you would on the average household toilet seat.
It's true. Traveling exposes you to countless germs and viruses, and unless you wear a hazmat suit, you're bound to come in contact with some pretty nasty stuff somewhere along the way. While there's no avoiding pathogens, a strong immune system will help you fight them off before they do any harm. Make sure yours up for the challenge by putting these tips into practice.
- Eat a balanced diet. Nutrition has a major impact on the immune system, so be sure to round out your protein and carbs with a generous helping of veggies and fruit.
- Take a multivitamin. Sometimes vital nutrients slip through the cracks. Supplementing your everyday diet with a good multivitamin can help fill in nutritional gaps.
- Take probiotics. Not only does good gut health give your immune system a serious boost, but it will also help your stomach cope if you decide to indulge in some exotic cuisine during your travels.
- Chug that h2o. Drinking plenty of water can reduce pressure on the immune system by flushing out toxins and ensuring your entire body is firing on all cylinders.
- Rest up. Not getting enough hours in the sack can severely compromise your body's ability to fight off infection. Aim for a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night in the week before take off.
Not all that complicated, right? Consider making the above-mentioned tips part of your everyday routine for year-round wellbeing.
#3. Pack a First Aid Kit
Minor afflictions like cuts, burns, rashes, hay fever, motion sickness, or travelers diarrhea can crop up at any time. And when you're in a foreign country, a quick trip to the pharmacy isn't always simple (or quick). Be prepared for anything by packing a TSA approved first aid kit in your carry on, as well as a handful of OTC medications like antihistamines, antidiarrheals, antiemetics, and mild pain relievers.
Of course you always want to ensure that you have your prescription medications filled and ready to go before travel. If you're leaving on a last minute trip or just don't have time to hit up the doctor before you go, you can fill your prescription online with a service like Felix.
Healthy Travel Tips: In-Flight
Sitting in a cramped seat for hours on end and breathing in dry, stale air along with hundreds of other passengers as you hurtle through the sky at approximately 575mph isn't exactly kind to your body. These in-flight tips can help minimize the negative effects of air travel.
#4. Sanitize your Seat
There's just no way of knowing how many passengers used your seat before you or how well it was cleaned between flights (if it was cleaned at all, that is).
Pack some antibacterial wipes in your carry on and wipe down your entire seating area before you get comfy to reduce the risk of getting off the plane with more than you bargained for.
#5. Drink Plenty of Water
Drier-than-average cabin air sets the stage for dehydration. While cracked lips, tight skin, and stuffy sinuses are nothing to sniff at, dehydration can also cause more serious symptoms, like slowed blood circulation and reduced immunity.
Sipping on water throughout your flight will help tremendously, but be sure to bring your Travel Water Bottle—commercial aircraft water tanks can be downright nasty.
#6. Snack Smart
Packing a handful of healthy snacks is a great way to prevent hunger pangs and nourish your body while it's in the air.
#7. Boost your Circulation
Sitting for extended periods of time can result in blood pooling in the feet and legs, potentially causing swelling and discomfort.
If your flight is longer than four hours, you could even run the risk of developing blood clots and DVT (deep vein thrombosis). Keep your blood pumping by getting up and taking a stroll down the aisle every so often, doing some seated leg exercises, or pulling on a pair of compression socks.
Traveling at high altitudes, crossing time zones, and sitting in the same position for hours on end can really do a turn on your body. Sleeping on a plane isn't always easy, but if you want to avoid a post-flight crash, catching some Zzzz's is essential. Just can't drift off? Try wearing loose, comfortable clothing and don't forget to pack a few creature-comforts in your carry on (think: a supportive travel pillow, an eye mask, earplugs or noise-canceling headphones, and a soft blanket).
#9. Take a Travel Health Supplement
Your body can use all the support it can get when it's up in the air. Carrying separate supplements to combat common flight health issues like dehydration, bloating, fatigue, and compromised immunity is always an option, but, honestly, who has that much carry-on space to spare?
Inflight Elixir brings all the key players to the table without crowding your carry-on. Each serving is specially formulated with potent natural ingredients to:
- Restore hydration
- Roost immunity
- Counter cosmic radiation
- Improve digestive health
- Support healthy blood circulation
- Reduce jet lag.
Healthy Travel Tips: At your Destination
It's all too easy to get a little lax about travel health once you reach your destination when you're on vacation. While you have every right to kick back and enjoy your well-earned break, throwing caution to the wind could land you flat on your back (and, no, we aren't talking about sunbathing).
#10. Be Water-Wise
Drinking enough water is important, but be mindful of the source. The chemical content and overall cleanliness of tap water can vary dramatically from country to country.
If you aren't 100% sure about the quality of the tap water at your destination, do yourself (and your stomach) a favor and stick with bottled or boiled water.
Don't overlook the ice either—more often than not, this comes straight out of a tap as well.
#11. Watch What You Eat
Enjoying authentic local cuisine goes hand in hand with exploring different countries and cultures, but if you aren't careful, you could find yourself spending a good chunk of your trip in the bathroom.
#12. Set Aside Time to Rest
When you're visiting a different country, you want to make every moment count and take in as many sights as possible. We get it. Planning each day and scheduling activities for certain times will help you cram in as much as possible, but if you're too rigid about it, it can also leave you feeling too exhausted to truly enjoy any of it.
Penciling in a few hours of "open time" everyday will give you the freedom to choose between sightseeing, activities, or some much-needed downtime without inducing FOMO.
Listen to Your Body
Doing your research and following healthy travel tips and advice is a great starting point, but don't forget to listen to your body. If we had to guess, it's probably saying, "rest when you need to, stay hydrated, eat well, and be kind to your tummy".
Have more healthy travel tips? We'd love to hear them, so don't be shy—share them with us in the comments section below!