Greetings from San Diego! I am in southern California for the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine annual conference and board certification exam. This means I’m studying my butt off and networking and learning like crazy! Please pencil in a to-do on Halloween to send me a prayer, good thoughts and other mojo for my exam!
Earlier this week I had asked myself what I should write about this weekend and, since I’m traveling I thought I would write about ways to stay healthy while traveling. It’s not easy to keep your routines up while on the road! Getting OUT of your normal routine is a stressor, and as you know stress lowers your immune system and makes you more prone to pick up germs.
So how do you keep your immune system strong while traveling? There are 3 major ways to stay healthy while traveling.
1. Get enough rest
Yep. We tend to burn the candle at both ends while traveling. Isn’t it funny how we go on vacation to rest and rejuvenate, then cram our schedules full of activities and must-do lists! This is normal and natural, but you have to make sure to leave enough time for healthy rest.
You should ideally try to stay on your normal sleep schedule while traveling. For those with kids, that means doing your best to stick to their normal wake-up times, naptimes and bedtimes. You know your kids, and you know how flexible they are. My own kids can sleep anywhere, anytime. (They are related to their Aunt Becky who once slept through the whole car ride from Cincinnati to Hilton Head, only emerging for meals and rest stops.)
Traveling to the West Coast made me think a little about jetlag. I’ll be here for over a week, so I won’t be able to avoid shifting my sleep cycle. If it were just for a few days I’d do my best to stay on East Coast time, but for this length of trip it’s just too hard to fight my brain’s response to daylight and dark. When I get home I’ll have to just be extra careful about my sleep so I don’t let myself get run down.
2. Eat and drink healthy
When you’re traveling it’s easy to eat crap. Fast food, junk food and unhealthy restaurant fare are quick and convenient. Some of us overindulge in alcohol if we don’t have to drive or get up for work the next day. And often if you’re going to be trapped in an airplane seat you don’t want to drink as much water as you should. Trust me, I get it! Airplane lavatories are NOT where I want to spend my whole plane flight.
If you’re honest with yourself, you have to admit that you don’t FEEL well when you don’t EAT well. And it’s not hard nowadays to find healthy alternatives. Even at O’Hare I was able to find a grilled portabello mushroom sandwich (without cheese!) at a little Mediterranean place. Salads, whole-grain breads, and unprocessed foods are not hard to find.
Depending on where you’re going and what you’re doing, adjust your water intake accordingly. The climate is pretty dry here in San Diego and I’m thirstier than usual, which of course means I need to pay more attention to my fluid intake. If I were going on a hike or doing something physically challenging I would be sure to get advice from a local about how much water I would need. Dehydration contributes to fatigue, can make motion sickness (like seasickness on cruise ships) worse, and can make you prone to mistakes.
3. Take supplements
This is not nearly as important as the other two! However, even though it is a distant third I felt I should mention it because it can definitely contribute to feeling well and keeping your immune system strong.
You should pack and take your high-quality multivitamins, of course. Just like you wouldn’t leave home without your prescription medication, you should bring along your normal supplement regimen. Vitamin C and echinacea are two supplements that help to support the immune system.
Here are some examples of immune-support supplements you might consider. I brought my Vitalized Immunity with me, along with all the other supplements I take daily!
It’s easy to get out of your routine when traveling. Burning the candle at both ends with fun activities, not sleeping enough, eating the wrong foods, overindulging in alcohol, skimping on water, and forgetting your supplements are common enough and can put you and your family at risk of getting sick. With a little discipline and foresight, though, you can arrive back home after your trip with only great memories and WITHOUT any unwanted souvenirs!