illustration by Allison Berg

Travel Tips

How to Stay Healthy while Traveling

Tips for the mind and body.

The search for how to stay healthy while traveling is a pressing one. These days, travelers are not only preparing to stay physically healthy during their travels but also mentally healthy. Travel can be hard on the body with plane germs, dehydration, and time changes that affect your regular sleep schedule, but in today’s world the mental stress that comes along with travel is also a real thing. TSA lines, turbulence, and time management are factors that many mainstream travel outlets seem to gloss over, perpetuating the widespread assumption that most people who travel just know (or should know) how to deal with these things. We’ve come up with a list of health tips for travel that speak to both the mind and the body, which we hope will help you feel more comfortable while you’re in and out of the airports and off to new places.

First, pack a travel kit
This is one of the easiest ways to prepare for a trip. Your travel kit should go directly into your carry-on, so make sure any liquids are TSA-approved size. Good items to put into the travel kit include:

  • Vitamins – a multivitamin or vitamin C to maintain the immune system
  • Packets of Emergen-C or a similar electrolyte solution to dose yourself when feeling sluggish after a long flight or during flight
  • ChapStick or lip balm – a MUST
  • Makeup wipes or baby wipes
  • Bottle of essential oil – lavender is a good one for nervous flyers
  • Packets of your favorite tea – if you’re a tea drinker, you can enjoy your favorite on the plane by simply asking for hot water when the drink service comes by
  • Hand lotion or a rich salve for face and hands
  • Chewing gum or mints – helpful when ears are popping during takeoff or descent
  • Hand sanitizer spray
  • Ibuprofen or something similar – you will need this at some point during your trip, or someone else will

Keep time
Always cushion airport time with a few extra hours. Even the most seasoned travelers miss flights because they underestimate the time it takes to clear TSA! Airport lines are completely unpredictable, and stressing out with bags, bins, and bare feet is no way to start a trip. If patience isn’t your virtue, pay attention in line and avoid following the families with little ones. It’s not their fault you cut it too close, timewise.

Hydrate. HYDRATE!
If you don’t already have a reusable water bottle, it’s time to buy one. You can get one just about anywhere these days starting at about $8, and airports now have stations where you can fill your water bottle for free and take it onto the plane. Flying dehydrates you, so do places with high elevation, and so does that wine you just ordered from the flight attendant.

Wash your hands with soap, water, and sanitizer
Airport and plane bathrooms are germ ridden. In airplanes, sanitizing your hands even after you wash them is a good idea since the water you are washing them with is non-potable. And if you’re traveling to places where the water is not safe to drink, wash your hands and follow up with some hand sanitizer. Also, never brush your teeth with the airplane faucet water. It’s non-potable for a reason!

Think before you eat and drink
You might think you’re playing it safe by ordering a salad while you’re in another country, but oftentimes eating greens abroad can be a gamble if the restaurant’s water isn’t filtered. Also, if your days involve long tours or lots of walking, make sure you start the day with more than a banana and coffee. Carbs and proteins are your friend during intensive sightseeing days.

Grab some purse snacks
Packing some purse or bag snacks is always a wonderful idea, especially if you are with a larger group and decision making around meals is more complicated.

Did you pack those earbuds?
You’re going to need them. If you’re a meditator, download a meditation app and queue it up when that kid behind you keeps trying to crawl over the back of your seat or when the ride gets bumpy.

Check your gut
Food on the road can make the strongest of stomachs quiver. Alka-Seltzer tablets or digestive enzymes are a wise choice for the travel kit.

Bring the workout clothes
People either love or hate working out while on vacation. If you are the latter, bringing workout clothes and shoes never hurts. You can even keep them in your carry-on as a backup outfit in case your luggage gets delayed or lost! A quick workout while traveling can boost your energy and reset you if vacation bloat starts to get you down.

Hit the reset button
Taking a moment at least once a day during your trip to decompress is an often overlooked and necessary thing to do. Do it! Traveling with a big group of your friends? Make time in the morning to go have a quiet coffee alone while everyone is getting ready, or take a brisk solo walk if everyone is sleeping in. If you saw a serene-looking spot with a view, make sure you go back and sit there, taking in the sights and sounds around you. Do you.

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