Planes, trains, and automobiles – oh my! Whether you’re traveling for work or vacation, you’ll likely agree that while traveling is fun, it can be incredibly stressful. Travel throws off our schedule, eating habits, and sleeping patterns, which can wreak havoc on our immune system. Here are some tips to help keep you healthy whether you’re pounding the pavement, traveling the roadways, or flying the blue skies.
Eat as healthy as possible. Not eating well can lead to digestive distress, which is no fun while traveling. As a general rule, try to maintain your typical diet, and focus on eating healthy proteins, vegetables, fats, fruits, and vitamin C-rich foods.
- Purchase foods like hummus, yogurt, salad, nuts, protein bars, or fruit at the airport
- Bring snacks to avoid becoming over hungry on long flights or between work visits
- If you’re near a grocery store, buy healthy food and water to bring back to your room
- Avoid sugar as much as possible, as it can depress our immune system
- Consume minimal alcohol, and stay well hydrated to avoid cramps and headaches
- Take probiotics (preferably with Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) to assist your digestive and immune system
- Use a broad spectrum digestive enzyme when dining out
Maintain your exercise regime. Many hotels have fitness centers available at no additional charge. Exercise can decrease stress, improve immune function, and raise serotonin levels. As we get older, it becomes increasingly important to get up, move around, and stretch, since our tendons and ligaments tend to shorten and become less pliable.
- Walk between appointments or while waiting at the airport
- Use stairs instead of escalators and elevators at airports, hotels, and business meetings
- Get up, move around, and stretch on the airplane, especially during longer flights
- Take supplements like tart cherry, serrapeptase, and curcumin for joint health
Get enough sleep. Sleep helps keep our immune system healthy and is the time when our body can rest, detoxify, and repair itself.
- Go to bed at the same time you normally do, and sleep for the recommended 7 hours
- Take melatonin for sleep support and to help adjust to time zone changes
- Keep your room dark and cool, and avoid electronics at least 30 minutes before bed
- Avoid alcohol before bed, as it can disrupt sleep due to adrenaline production
- Eat at a reasonable time before going to bed and avoid caffeine
- Take a warm bath or shower before bed to help with relaxation and restful sleep
- Travel with bath or body oils like lavender to aid in sleep
- Progressive relaxation and deep breathing can help calm our body and promote sleep
- Magnesium with calcium and pharma GABA also promote relaxation and healthy sleep
Keep stress levels in check. One of best things you can do is deep breathing techniques, which help with relaxation and calming. Deep breathing can be done while driving, waiting in line at a store, or walking in between appointments. Breathing at a pace of 4-7-8 is a relaxation program Dr. Andrew Weil created. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. This can be done two to three times in a row, two to three times per day.
- Pace yourself and try to spread out your schedule
- Make time for meals, snacks, and breaks
- Listen to calming music to help relax
- Read an enjoyable magazine or light-hearted movie
- Pamper yourself with a warm bath or massage
- If you meditate, try to maintain your routine while traveling
Remember to relax as much as possible and to stick to your daily supplement routine. A multivitamin and mineral formula, omega-3, and probiotic are important. Vitamins A, D, C and zinc will also support immune health while traveling. Although your stress level may be elevated and you may feel a bit “off,” try to maintain consistency with food, sleep, and exercise, so you can feel your best while enjoying your travels.