Planes are not the only things flying in the air. Germs fly too. Here are 5 easy ways to give your immune system a boost in order to travel well and stay well:
1) Wash Your Hands Often
That’s what physicians do. Think of hand washing as a do-it-yourself vaccine. According to the CDC is one of the most effective ways to remove germs, avoid illness and avoid spreading germs to other travelers. Minimize the spread of dreaded diarrheal and respiratory illness with 5 easy steps: 1) Wet 2) Lather 3) Scrub 4) Rinse and 5) Dry.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain 60% alcohol reduce germs and are good alternative when hand washing is not available. However, Sanitizers don’t eliminate all types of germs and washing with soap and water is one of the best ways to avoid illness.
Lastly, avoid rubbing your eyes and touching your face to avoid spreading germs.
2) Drink Water
Airplane cabins are unnaturally low in humidity creating a dry environment. Add to that, an increase in altitude and cabin pressure and the human body experiences significant physiological changes where adequate hydration is needed. Dehydration is often associated with airplane travel and symptoms include thirst, tiredness, constipation, dry eyes and light-headedness.
Rapid heartbeat, extreme thirst, confusion, fever and loss of skin elasticity are signs of severe dehydration. Research suggests drinking adequate amounts of water may prevent heart attacks. Many take water for granted while traveling and some prefer not to drink water so they don’t have to use public restrooms.
Here are a few simple steps to help you stay hydrated and healthy whether you are at home or are traveling:
· Drink a glass of water when you wake up and you will find it is energy booster.
· Fill a water bottle or pitcher in the morning and have it accessible so you drink it throughout the day.
· Drink roughly 8 ounces of water per hour. Alcohol and caffeine are dehydrating so avoid, especially when flying.
· Drink bottled water when flying rather than water poured from a flight attendant’s carafe. Water from a tank has lots of chemicals.
Traveling is stressful often compounded by long lines, increased security checks, weather delays, technical failures and increased anxiety over safety. Stress is a co-contributor to many health issues like over-eating, not sleeping well and not feeling well.
Airports now have many of options to help passengers unwind – from roaming dog therapy dogs, rocking chairs, spas, meditation and yoga rooms to art installations that inspire. Check out the airport website before leaving to see what options are available or just go explore instead of passively sitting at the gate.
4) Nourish Your Body
There are some simple strategies anyone can adopt for eating healthy food at airports.
· Before you leave the house eat a healthy meal: Leaving for your trip on a hungry or half hungry stomach can set yourself up for failure. Plan ahead so you can enjoy a full meal that will be satisfying and nutritious and without much cleanup.
· Pack healthy snacks: There are lots of packable options such as popping unsalted nuts, or carrots and celery into a zip lock bag. Pack fruit that travels well such as apples, pears and cuties. Avoid fruits that get mashed easily like bananas. Dark chocolate is good for you and can satisfy your urge for a sweet without over indulgence.
· Pack a Meal: My 2 favorite go-to is peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread – fairly healthy, very satisfying and travels well.
· Buy Wisely: If you haven’t had a chance to do any of the first 3 steps and you need to buy at the airport, then some good options are yogurt, fruit and finding a sandwich shop that will build a healthy, customized meal. Skip the chips, cookies, sodas and muffins.
5) Get Enough Sleep
Not getting enough sleep makes us feel groggy, cranky, hungry and prone to errors. Below are some ways to feel more rested when you arrive at your destination.
· Relaxing Soundtracks: Listen to soothing music or guided meditation
· Reduce light: Lower the window blind, turn off the TV and/or wear and eye pillow to block disturbing light.
· Travel Pillows: Don’t leave home without a travel pillow or a shawl or jacket that can be rolled into a pillow.
· Seat Selection: For flights longer than 5 hours, I prefer a window seat so I can rest easier.
(Please consult with your physician for your personal health needs).
Camille Hoheb, Wellness Tourism Worldwide | January 18, 2016
About the Author: Camille Hoheb is the editor of and the Founder of (WTW), a leader in the development and promotion of wellness travel providing services to destinations, travel suppliers and travel sellers. WTW provides research and reports, education and training, webinars and workshops, business development and marketing, product positioning and content creation to advance wellness tourism worldwide.
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