Keeping healthy is crucial all the time — especially in the winter during flu season. But there’s nothing worse than getting sick on the road. Whether driving from state to state or taking a plane across the country, avoiding illness can be difficult.
Although it’s easy to catch a bug in an airport or at a hotel, it is possible to steer clear of germs. I consulted with a few experts and compiled a list of ways to stay healthy while traveling.
Get enough sleep
Dr. Lisa Doggett, a board-certified family physician in Austin, Texas, recommended snoozing as much as you can. The National Sleep Foundation suggests adults between the ages of 18 and 64 get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night.
“Sleep is critical to allow our minds and bodies to rejuvenate after a stressful day,” Doggett said.
Doggett advised going to bed and getting up at about the same time every day. And if it’s too noisy to get some zzz’s, try using earplugs.
Keep your hands clean
Kate Fuss, a physician assistant and a wellness blogger at The Healthy Habiteer, said hand washing is key to good health. She proposed scrubbing before using the bathroom, before eating and before touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Doggett agreed. “Hand washing may be the single most important way to prevent the spread of infections,” she said.
Hand sanitizer is also a useful item to pack and come in handy in a pinch.
And while you’re taking care of yourself, watch out for others. To avoid passing germs onto your fellow travelers, Fuss recommended coughing and sneezing into your elbow.
Surfaces used by multiple people — like restaurant tables or the seat back tray table on an airplane — can get dirty and grimy. That’s why Fuss endorsed bringing along disinfectant wipes. “I wipe down the tray, knob and the armrest for extra measure,” she said via email.
Stay on top of your health
Though it’s demanding to eat healthy while away from home, Doggett and Fuss said it’s important. Doggett suggested eating fruits or vegetables with every meal and limiting alcohol consumption to one drink at most.
“I try to eat foods with the least amount of ingredients, ingredients I can recognize and non-GMO or as organic as possible (within budget),” Fuss added. “Additionally, refraining from highly processed foods and drinks is a smart choice, as having high blood pressure makes it more challenging for your body to heal,” she said.
Eating isn’t the only way to keep your body in tip-top shape. Doggett noted that preventive care is necessary for staying in healthy. Seeing a doctor regularly (typically every one or two years, depending on your age) and getting a flu shot are great ways to maintain good health.
Don’t bank on herbs or supplements
As an Airborne lover, this news was hard for me to hear. But Doggett said the evidence that Echinacea and Vitamin C actually prevent infection is poor. They’re okay to take, but don’t count on the fact that they’ll keep you healthy.