Staying on Top of Your Health, Even When You’re on Vacation

woman with suitcases

The Labor Day weekend is coming up, and I’m looking forward to some quality family time away from work, with a little traveling thrown in. And I’m not alone. Almost 35 million Americans traveled last Labor Day weekend, and I’m sure this year will be no different. The thing is, traveling to new places can be hard on our immune systems. It can throw our usual healthy routines out of whack and expose us to some nasty germs and dangers getting from point A to point B. I thought I’d share a few of the key rules I stick to when I travel, along with a few ways to keep you and your family safe.

Highway Hazards

Long weekends mean both long traffic jams and long hours behind the wheel. With a short period of time to visit, it’s tempting to power through to make it to your destination as soon as possible, but this can be dangerous. Sleep is an often-overlooked cause of accidents and death among those behind the wheel. Statistics have shown that six out of 10 drivers have driven while drowsy and, amazingly, one third has actually fallen asleep at the wheel. Here’s what you can do to avoid nodding off behind the wheel:

  • Get a good night’s sleep before you travel: Most adults need seven to nine hours to function effectively.
  • Schedule breaks: You should take a break every two hours or 100 miles, whichever comes first.
  • Bring a buddy: Another person in the car can keep you awake or switch out if you’re getting tired.
  • Don’t get distracted: Sleep deprivation eats up your attention and adding a cellphone in the mix is a recipe for disaster. If you need to use your phone, pull over or get to it at your next rest stop.

Flying Fears

Planes are by far the safest way to travel, but they often lack healthy eating options and can be incubators of illness. Here’s what you can do to ward off germs and illness in the air:

  • Wash your hands regularly: This is the number one way to fight infection when traveling, especially when you can’t get away from someone who’s sick. Always use a paper towel to open the door when you leave the bathroom since knobs can be particularly germy.
  • Bring healthy snacks: While liquids aren’t allowed through security, food certainly is. Airports are notorious for having nothing healthy to eat, so plan ahead and bring your own snacks or even food for dinner. Fruits and vegetables can also boost your immunity and protect you from sick passengers.
  • Don’t get dehydrated: Dehydration dries out your nose, mouth and throat, which can make you more susceptible to infection. Bring an empty water bottle with you through security and fill it up when you get inside.

Disrupted Routines

You may have started a new exercise regimen or a new diet over the summer, but a weekend away can throw everything off. Here’s how you can stay on track while traveling:

  • Make do with what you have: While your hotel might have a gym, you can get a great workout without one. Check out some of the workouts I did with Shaun T for some seriously challenging body weight workouts.
  • Do the best you can: Eating out doesn’t have to be a disaster. Waiters can often provide good guidance to someone looking for a healthier meal and understanding how menus work can help you to find the best options. Fill up on greens and protein over starches and try to skip seconds if you’re eating at home.
  • Forgive yourself: Falling off the bandwagon once when it comes to food or exercise isn’t the end of the world. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you indulge and be mindful to make healthier decisions at your next meal.