Traveling is rough on your immune system. Between jet lag, temperature variations, new food, new germs, inevitable stress and sleep and exercise disruptions… it’s the perfect storm for falling ill. Being sick while away from home is never a blast but I’ve learned some great tips throughout my years of globe trekking and my studies of nutrition and public health to at least mitigate the pain when I do catch a bug.
The preventative stuff that I have found to be very helpful:
1. Vitamins. Especially for women, it’s a good idea to get your vitamin levels checked before you travel. Being iron, vitamin D and B12 deficient is common and often overlooked. This can have a huge effect on your immune system and, combined with the exhaustion of travel can lead to you becoming particularly susceptible to colds, flus, etc.
2. Echinacea. A great preventative if you feel a cold / flu coming on.
3. A multi B-vitamin – great for energy and immunity (and for mornings after you’ve been partying a little too late).
4. Cold / flu meds: lozenges, fever reducers, a few herbal tea bags, etc. The last things you want to go searching for in case you get sick.
5. WATER! Drink plenty of water starting from the moment you get to the airport and through security. It’s so easy to get dehydrated and that is not fun.
6. Probiotics for a happy gut. I like Culturelle.
7. Pack a bunch of healthy bars to snack on so you don’t end up scarfing down something greasy. My favorites are Kind bars, 18 rabbits, Pure bars and Zing bars.
Once you arrive to your destination:
1. Relax! Recuperate. Even a six hour flight is taxing on your system. Don’t push yourself. Check in with your body and do some stretches (I don’t go anywhere without my yoga mat) and breathing exercises to get rebalanced.
2. Make sure you catch up on sleep – this is the number one thing that can make you feel run down and lower your immune defenses. The next is healthy eating.
3. Find some fresh fruits and veggies. You can eat all the vitamins you want, but nothing compares to the power of the antioxidants in fresh foods. If I'm in a rush, I just buy a few fruits and veggies and wash and peel them in my hotel room.
4. WASH YOUR HANDS. A LOT. Do this and you’ll prevent the majority of potential illness.
5. Keep well hydrated. Changing time zones and temperature zones will throw off your thirst and hunger mechanism and flying is dehydrating. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water constantly.
Bon voyage & safe travels!