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10 Tips for Staying Healthy on the Road

by Ilana Murphy Oct 26, 2017

1. Pack a complementary first aid kit

In addition to any medications recommended by your primary care provider, it’s helpful to create a complimentary first aid kit for your journey. This can include simple natural remedies, such as chamomile tea or melatonin to help with sleep, charcoal for early stages of minor diarrhea, and even diaper cream if you suspect your skin might get irritated on a long hike or in humid weather. If you have any specific needs or fussy preferences, such as allergies to certain materials, it’s best to assume you won’t be able to find your go-to specialty product wherever you’re going.

2. Prioritize immunity

Do everything you can to boost your immune system before, during, and after your journey. Bring whatever you normally take to stay healthy or recover from illness, and then some. Tools such as Airborne are great for travel days or when you know you’ll be in a crowded place. Wellness formula is a go-to immunity booster for preventing a cold or flu and fighting one off. Check in with your holistic healthcare provider or at your local health food store or natural pharmacy for suggestions.

3. Protect your respiratory system

The respiratory system is the front line of the immune system that tends to get sick first, especially when traveling in new environments. Take extra good care of your system during plane travel, in crowded areas, and if you will be in dry climates or exposed to air pollution. Rub a little coconut oil, or something similar (even chapstick will work if you’re in a pinch), just inside your nostrils to moisturize and protect the mucus membranes; when these are dry or irritated the system becomes more vulnerable to pathogens. If you know you’ll be in areas that will particularly challenge your respiratory system, such as a big polluted city, or if you suffer from asthma or similar conditions, it is worth packing or buying a good-quality mask with a filter. Also, developing a breathing routine — as simple as focusing on taking several slow deep breaths — is great for lung health, calms the nerves, and clears the mind.

4. Pamper your digestive system

Your immune system and digestive system are inextricably linked, so it is worth going out of your way to keep your gut as healthy as possible. Give it a boost by eating clean and healthy foods on a regular basis, consume adequate fiber and take your probiotics to maintain healthy gut flora. If you eat or drink something of questionable cleanliness and caliber while on the go, add a few drops of grapefruit seed extract to food or drink to kill off any potential bacteria. Drinking ginger tea regularly supports the digestive system, and it can relieve a stomach ache. It’s cheap, effective, and accessible in much of the world and is also helpful for fighting off colds.

5. Hydrate and find the shade

Drink plenty of fluids on your journey to fend off unpleasant, inconvenient, and potentially dangerous dehydration. Once you are feeling the early effects of dehydration, such as a headache, difficulty cooling down, and irritability, it will usually take hours to catch up by increasing fluid intake. Stay ahead of the game by making a habit of hydration. Equip yourself with portable drinking water wherever you go, especially in hot climates, isolated areas, and during strenuous activities. Consume plenty of local fruits, veggies, and juices (healthy and hydrating!). You can easily throw together a natural homemade Gatorade, or isotonic beverage, by adding a touch of salt, sugar, and lime or lemon juice to your water to help replace electrolytes lost through sweating (also helpful for rehydrating following mild diarrhea). And, of course, be careful not to overdo with sun exposure, remember to wear a hat and apply (and reapply) sunscreen.

6. Practice good hygiene

This might seem obvious to you, but we all know it’s worth pointing out. Don’t forget to shower, and wash your hands whenever you get the chance. Remind yourself to scrub under your finger and toenails to get rid of unwelcome bacteria and fungus that can get onto your food or into a cut (ew!). Have a few portable cleaning tools in your day bag, such as hand sanitizer or wet wipes. Carrying grapefruit seed extract to add to any questionable food or beverage, or even to dilute and use as a cleanser, is also wise.

7. Don’t skimp on sleep

Equip yourself with some simple tools to enable a good night’s (or day’s, when necessary) sleep in order to be fresh for your travel itinerary and to stay healthy. Earplugs are a must for travelers, whether you use them on a plane, bus, or in a transit station, or if you belatedly discover your hotel is three doors down from the 24-hour karaoke bar. Certain ear plugs also reduce uncomfortable pressure in the ears during plane travel and help keep water out when swimming. Headphones or earbuds are useful for moments when you want to drown out the surrounding noise with your audio of choice, whether it’s a soothing lullaby or just white noise. An eye shade can help create a sleep-friendly environment, particularly valuable for light sleepers. A travel pillow can make all the difference for getting some good sleep, especially when changing beds frequently or for long journeys. If you think you might need a sleep aid, simple chamomile tea works well. Melatonin, valerian, and hops are a few other reliable sleep-support tools.

8. Create a portable exercise routine

Start and end your day with some movement to diminish the aches and pains caused by travel. Any simple yoga stretches, such as “cat-cow,” downward dog, or bridges are great options. Pack a yoga mat or blanket to create a small movement space wherever you are. Or use available tools, for example, do a lunge by putting one foot up on your bed with the other leg angled slightly back behind you with the foot on the floor. Get up and move whenever you get the chance, especially on long travel days. Take advantage of the local resources where you are staying, such as walking with the locals on a beach promenade or using an outdoor public workout area. If you are carrying a heavy bag, remind yourself to stand as tall as you can and think of pushing up into its weight to relieve pressure on your vertebral discs — no slouching!

9. Appreciate your feet

Your feet will be working hard throughout your trip and their well-being is essential to your positive travel experience. Put in the effort before you travel to find reliable, versatile, and supportive shoes. Practice a few simple foot-care routines, such as self-massage at the end and/or beginning of a walking-intensive day, roll out your foot with a small, firm ball or tennis ball, and indulge in an occasional professional foot massage, if available.

10. Slow down, rest, and enjoy

Make a point of scheduling in some R&R after a marathon of exploring somewhere new. This scheduled rest will balance out the excitement and busyness of your journey. Some dedicated downtime is key to staying healthy on your journey and for returning home a more relaxed and inspired person.

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