Travel Health: 10 Tips To Help You Avoid Getting Sick When You Travel

GETTING SICK WHILE traveling is a real bummer. And not just because you have to miss out on a vacation you meticulously planned months in advance. Falling ill while on the road can also cost you thousands of dollars if severe symptoms force you to seek medical care outside of your insurance network.

To ensure a healthy travel experience, first, be sure that you’re not showing any symptoms of illness before you depart. If you are, do not board your flight. The stress, lack of sleep and physical stress you’ll encounter while on the road will only amplify any pre-existing ailments you may or may not be battling. Assuming you’re starting your travels feeling healthy, here are some simple tips to ensure that you do not get sick on vacation.

The Window Seat

Simply choosing the window seat can actually keep you out of pesky bacteria’s way. This is the seat that keeps you as isolated as possible from other passengers who may be sick. Your only interactions will be with the person next to you and the two behind you. Whereas if you are in the middle or especially the aisle seat you will come into contact with whoever walks past you or squeezes past you to get to the bathroom. People are constantly walking up and down the aisle and putting their hands on the top of seats which means germs could be placed right where your face is. Ick!

Wipe Everything Down

The tray and the armrests are two of the areas on a plane that are rarely cleaned. The trays are never wiped down during the cabin cleaning which means leftover food residue and everybody who has used that tray may have coughed on it or at the very least touched it. The same goes for the hand rests. All you need to do is carry some antibacterial wipes with you and give everything a quick wipe down.

Drink Lots Of Water

This is a big one. Staying hydrated while you fly can make a huge difference when you land and while in the air. Flying is incredibly drying which means you will most likely want to use a nasal spray like Otrivin to fight dryness as well as drinking as much water as possible. It might be tempting to drink alcohol but this will further dehydrate you and may make you feel poorly if you have not been drinking enough water.

Keep Your Hands To Yourself

It might be tempting to rub your eyes or eat something with your hands but unless you have thoroughly sanitized them you will definitely want to avoid doing this. This can introduce any bacteria or viruses you have come into contact with directly to your body which means you can get very sick very quickly once you land which is terrible.

Eat A Balanced Diet

Lots of us think, “I’m on vacation and can eat or drink as much as my body can handle,” but that can disrupt our digestive system and our overall health. Eat healthy, balanced meals with lots of fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables to keep your immune system healthy and strong.

Get Enough Sleep During Your Trip

Our white blood cells increase in number while we sleep, especially at night. When you are sleep deprived, the body’s defense mechanism weakens.

Be Careful With The Water, But Keep Hydrated.

You don’t quite have to go to Survivor-type lengths of building a campfire and boiling the water over it (your hostel/hotel owner will probably be upset about this, and as much as you’d probably like to vote out that snoring guy at tribal council, it’s not going to happen), but as I’m sure you’re already aware, drinking the local water can sometimes be a bit dodgy for your unaccustomed system. So bottled water is your friend, but you should also be aware of other things that water is being used for. Avoid salads washed in water – indeed, unless it contains items that have been peeled, traveling is the ideal time to be a salad-dodger (can’t peel it? Don’t eat it). Sauces can also often be made with large amounts of the local aqua; until you’re acclimatized, it might be better not to risk it. The role of water in how to avoid getting sick while traveling really can’t be overstated.

Use A Nasal Mist.

Remember that nasal mist I mentioned above? Here’s where you want to use it. The air in your average plane is extremely dry, thanks to the recirculated air system, and your nose will obligingly dry out too. This isn’t good for you though; your respiratory system works far better when there’s a bit of moisture or mucus (I know; sorry) in your nose, happily catching all the germs that the air system is swirling around. A nasal mist will artificially provide this for you until you’re back on the ground.

Don’t Eat Boiled or Peeled Food

This is an old traveler’s standby; when in doubt, eat only food that is either boiled or peeled. Germs will be killed off pretty much universally by boiling, and germs can’t get into food that has a peelable skin in most cases.

Eat at a Deserted Restaurant

Spoiled or tainted food can cripple travelers for a few days, or worse; a good indicator of the freshness and edibility at any given restaurant is how many people are eating there and how many of them are locals. Establishments favored by the hordes and by the locals are less likely to have a reputation for tainted food. Even if the flora differs a bit from that at home, the fact that heaps of folks are eating the food is almost always a good sign (and high turnover means the food is probably fresher too).