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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information. It was originally published on July 7, 2019.
Honestly, is there a worse time to get sick than when you’re on vacation?
All you want is to enjoy your trip and make the most of your time. And then, boom! A cold. Or worse. You’re away from the comforts of your home, it takes more effort just to get simple remedies, and visiting the doctor you’re familiar isn’t an option. It has happened to all of us.
On the bright side, there are precautions we can take to reduce our chances of getting sick while traveling. I used to come home sick after pretty much every trip. After I started doing these things, I almost never spend the last few days of my trip coughing and sneezing, and then end up confined to my bed for several days after returning home.
Here are my top ten tips on how to not get sick while traveling!
begin preparing far in advance
This has to do with your state of well being even before you embark on your adventure. Instead of leaving all the important things for the day before you leave for your trip, begin your countdown at least one week in advance, (two is better.) You’ll know you have things under control and you’ll be in a more relaxed state of mind before you even leave. Not to mention, you’ll won’t be pulling any all-nighters in a last ditch effort to get everything done on time!
anticipate jet-lag & prioritize sleep
Speaking of sleep, we all know the importance of getting a solid 7-8 hours per night. However, that can be hard when you’re crossing timezones and are just excited to see everything your destination has to offer. Who has time for sleep? YOU! Not sleeping weakens your immune system and prevents your body from recovering from all the stress, bumps, and germs it faced during the day.
One of the best travel tips I’ve ever learned is to set my watch (I like using an old-fashioned analog watch for this,) to whatever time it is currently at my destination. This determines what I need to be doing during my flight. If it’s sleep time at my destination, then I will get out my eye mask and neck pillow and will myself to sleep. If it’s day time at my destination, then I will do whatever it takes to stay awake.
carry disinfecting wipes + first aid kit
In my humble opinion, hand sanitizer is basically worthless. Because, really, does a little squirt of hand sanitizer make you feel good about picking up your burger with you hands after touching who knows what all day? It sure doesn’t make me feel any better. Instead of hand sanitizer, I carry disinfecting hand wipes with me on the go. They kill germs, but they also physically wipe away grime that sanitizer leaves behind.
While we’re talking about disinfecting, I suggest carrying a well-stocked first aid kit with you on your travels. Having items like alcohol wipes, antibiotic ointment, Bandaids, and Tylenol handy can help prevent a small problem from turning into a big problem if not treated.
for goodness sake, WASH YOUR HANDS
If you can possibly, possibly, find a place to wash your hands, soap and water is always your best defense against viruses and bacteria. TBH, I’ve always been a bit of a speed hand washer. The time I would spend scrubbing my hands was literally about one second. This is not sufficient.
We’ve all been advised to sing Happy Birthday, twice, while washing our hands apparently to keep our brains occupied for a whole 20 seconds while we washed sufficiently. I think that sounds like a very uninspired way of killing 20 seconds. Pick a tune you like and make washing your hands entertaining. Personally, I’ve been bopping to John Denver’s Country Roads, the chorus of which clocks in at an overachieving 22 seconds.
Oftentimes, you’ll encounter a source of running water that is completely devoid of soap. I’ve taken to carrying a refillable mini bottle of soap in my handbag so I can wash my hands wherever I can find water.
stay hydrated & fueled
You can’t spend your trip running on fumes. (Or sugar, though I’ve tried that.) Making sure you stay hydrated and fueled at all times will keep your strength levels up in ways that you can see, and in ways that you can’t. I carry a water bottle wherever I go and I take little sips of water regularly. Additionally, travel is all around unpredictable and sometimes finding a healthy meal when you need one is difficult. I like keeping an energy bar in my day bag for moments when I need fuel but the only food nearby is a popcorn stand.
I am guilty of not drinking enough water because I’d rather not worry about hunting down a restroom in an unfamiliar places. To help with this, there are apps you can download such as Flush that help you locate restrooms on the fly.
This (hopefully) won’t be the last trip you ever go on. Instead of running yourself into the ground trying to see and do everything, plan a lighter schedule of activities. Give yourself more time to enjoy the scenery, rest and relax when you need to, and get excited for all the activities you get to do next time.
keep stress to a minimum
I don’t know about you, but I get super stressed out when I don’t have a plan. I’m a worrier, and I hate feeling like I’m either missing out or making a big mistake by not working out all the little details in advance. Here’s the problem, over-planning tends to lead to over-scheduling, which is the opposite of pacing yourself.
This is what I do: I make a solid plan. Like, down to the minute planning. And then I put it away. In keeping with the spirit of my last tip, I use the main points of my plan as a guide, while letting the in-between parts of the day flow however they do. But if things ever start feeling out of control, I have my play book that I can whip out and use to get back on track. It’s like a safety blanket of sorts that helps me enjoy my time and not stress myself out.
invest in essential oils
This isn’t for everyone, but recently I’ve been a believer in the power of essential oils as preventatives and remedies for minor issues. If you don’t know the story of Thieves, here it is. As the story goes, there was a group of robbers, “the thieves,” who wanted to steal from the dead during the Black Plague, but of course they didn’t want to catch the plague themselves. The figured out that a blend of Cloves, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, Lemon, and Rosemary fought off the germs so they could steal to their hearts’ content and stay healthy. Lovely, huh?
Several reputable essential oils sell versions of the blend. My favorite is Plant Therapy Germ Fighter Synergy. Rub a little of the diluted oil on your feet and wrists every day, and be surprised at how resilient you become!
be smart when eating local cuisines
People around the world cook with different ingredients, adhere to different standards of cleanliness and doneness, and just have different tolerances than you may have. What the locals eat may be totally fine for them, but isn’t great for you.
If you aren’t sure about the local food, go for something that is fully cooked and served piping hot. Avoid foods and snacks that could have come into contact with tap water, such as apples or lettuce. When in doubt, seek out foods that are as simple as possible so it’s easy for you to determine what’s in it.
take a multivitamin supplement with C & B12
Vitamin C helps your body fight infections, and B12 is important for keeping your energy up. Perhaps some of you are great about taking your multivitamins, but I am not. You’ll rarely find me begrudgingly chewing a gummy vitamin at home, so there’s no chance of me packing anything of the sort in my already light luggage.
For me, the only way to get vitamins in (besides food, obviously,) is to mix them with fluids I’m already consuming. My regimen starts as soon as the first drinks come rolling out on the plane. I ask for a cup of water and sip my Emergen-C while I settle in with a good audiobook.
bonus tip: limit alcohol consumption
Did I tell you about the time that against my better judgement, I ordered a drink on opening day of Lamplight Lounge in Disneyland? Long story short, I had one cocktail and then I struggled to remain vertical as I ambled miserably back to my room, with a terrible stomachache, might I add. Alcohol makes minds fuzzy, stomaches gurgly, and balance non-existent. Basically, you aren’t at your pinnacle of health after you’ve had alcohol.
And honestly, I don’t understand what kind of fun alcohol can provide that you can’t experience non-inebriated. Am I being judge-y? Perhaps. There’s no shame in ordering “virgin” drinks so you too can have that pinky-raising, slow sipping experience.
That’s all for today!
Like this post? You’ll love this one too >> 34 Things To Do On A Plane (That Don’t Require Purchasing Internet Access!)
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Till next time ♥︎
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