Many of you may be travelling this winter, either for Christmas holidays, New Year’s celebrations, or to get somewhere sunny early in the new year. The last thing you want to do is get sick. One of the first things I organize when I travel is my healthy travel pack. Your list may vary, depending on your particular needs, where you are travelling, length of travel, and how much room you have in your bags, but here are some of my tips.
Cover the Basics for Healthy Travel
While many have a fear of flying, afraid that the plane is going to crash, we all know that that is highly unlikely to happen. You are, however, highly likely to be exposed to a lot of viruses and bacteria that can leave you sick when you arrive at your destination. The first thing I would suggest when it comes to travel is to support your immune system. It’s also key to be proactive for digestive health, as travel can offer up some challenges in this regard. And how about stress and sleep? Even vacations can still stress you out and cause sleep problems.
Immune Health for Healthy Travel
- Hydrate. Planes, in particular, are likely to leave you dehydrated. Though you may have to bother your fellow travellers so you can get up from your plane, train, or bus seat or ask for a driving pit stop, drink plenty of fluids. And no, wine or other alcohol do not count. In fact, don’t drink alcohol on the plane if you want to stay healthy (if you drink because it calms your nerves, read below for tips on that).
- Use an essential oil spritzer. A small (keep in mind liquid restrictions on airplanes) spray bottle with anti-viral essential oils like lavender and tea tree can be used to spritz your face. It’s refreshing, and if you inhale deeply as you spray, you’ll hydrate the mucus membranes of your nasal cavities, keeping them moist and doing their job of trapping infections before they enter your body deeper. Keep in mind that not all your fellow passengers will like this, so you may want to go to the bathroom to do this. Or, some may ask if they can borrow your spray bottle so they can try it themselves (no problem!).
- Take an immune support supplement with you. I take Japanese red reishi capsules and an anti-viral natural herbal throat spray. I also often take vitamin C or Panax ginseng powder to mix into my water.
- Take anti-bacterial wipes and/or hand sanitizer. I don’t like the conventional ones like Purell (hate the smell and find it drying), preferring instead ones like EO’s lavender hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your face. This one takes practice. You may not realize it, but many of you will touch your nose, mouth, eyes, and ears several times in a day, each time possibly transferring bacteria to those entry points of your body. Use your forearm, sleeve, or tissue if your face is itchy or whatever. This funny video gives you another option for your sneeze: Sneeze into the back of your knee.
Digestive Health for Healthy Travel
- Take a digestive enzyme blend. One of the things I love about travelling, is the chance to try new foods. But sometimes the body takes some time to get used to a change in diet. Plus, many of us over-indulge. I always bring digestive enzyme capsules in my purse, at the ready for culinary adventures.
- Bring ginger. I like ginger candy chews to help with motion sickness and nausea or vomiting from other cause (ugh, many of us have been down that road before).
- Be careful. Of course you know that if you are travelling to a place that is known for the equivalent of Montezuma’s Revenge (not just in Mexico), you’ll want to avoid drinking non-bottled or non-boiled water, ice, and even some raw fruits and vegetables. If you can peel them, you are much safer. I also bring grapefruit seed extract (Nutribiotic) so I can wash fruit I want to enjoy, but can’t fully trust.
- Take probiotics. Probiotics are the good bacteria that support a healthy digestive and immune system. The research on probiotics (and our “microbiome”) is growing exponentially. Look for one that’s shelf-stable (doesn’t need to be refrigerated), if you don’t have a fridge to store them.
- Bring anti-nausea wrist bands. If there’s any chance of someone in your travel party getting nauseous from motion sickness, throw these inexpensive and small wrist bands into your bag.
Managing Stress and Sleep Issues for Healthy Travel
- Make time for sleep. I know that getting ready to take a break from work can mean overtime before and after holidays. But, do your best to still get enough sleep. If you don’t sleep well, your immune system, digestive system, and everything else will not work as well. You’ll be more stressed too.
- Stress manage. Of course you may not be able to avoid all things stressful, but you can be prepared. If you are afraid of flying, get yourself geared up. My husband does not like to fly. But distraction (he never travels without his MP3 player and good headphones), breathing techniques, and explanations (“What’s that noise?!” “That’s the landing gear coming down.”) all help. There are also many natural remedies to help calm the nervous system. Passion flower (e.g.Pascoflair tablets) and Rescue Remedy drops or lozenges are examples. And, if something stronger is needed, I bring Gravol, in case he needs to be knocked out (though it doesn’t always work).
- Breathe. Of course you breathe. But do you really, really breathe? I mean, do you breathe deeply and slowly and with awareness? If you want to be calm when you are stressed, practice calm when you are not too stressed.
- Consider an adrenal support protocol. If stress is your M.O., talk to someone about adrenal support supplements. Acupuncture can also help manage stress with its release of endorphins and chance to reset and restore the body and mind.
- Use sleep supplements, if needed. I know that jet lag, a different bed, hectic travel, a change in routine, and even just being super excited about travelling can all make sleep more difficult. I bring a sleep tincture (with valerian, passion flower, lemon balm, and oats) and/or melatonin. If I don’t need it, no worries. But if I do, I’m grateful to have it handy!
And of course, try to eat healthy and get exercise.
If you’re travelling to a different time zone, check out my blog on jet lag acupressure.
May you enjoy your healthy travel time. Let me know your favourite travel tips. And favourite places to travel (I love to add to my travel wish list!).