It is estimated that 46 million people will partake in holiday travel during the holiday season. That is a lot of hands touching everything from airplane tray tables to door handles to luggage racks. The potential for millions of germs to be spread during this time is unavoidable. So what can you do to keep yourself and your family healthy during holiday travels?
In my previous career, I traveled all over the country via airlines on a weekly basis. I would stay hydrated, bulk up on vitamins, use hand sanitizer religiously and maybe the most unusual thing was to smear a little Neosporin ointment on the inside of my nose before each flight. I read somewhere it would help prevent inhaled bacteria. I didn’t know if that was just an old wives tale or not, but let’s take a look at some valid information on staying healthy.
Della Tuten, a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner and co-founder of Celebrate Primary Care, says the very most important factor to staying healthy is good nutrition and hydration. Avoiding junk and processed food and making sure to eat appropriate amounts of fruits, vegetables and healthy protein sources along with plenty of water will ensure your own immune system is in top shape! Taking extra vitamins or supplements aren’t usually necessary, but probably aren’t harmful either unless you have a medical condition that prevents them. Be sure to talk with your own healthcare provider before taking any supplements.
- GETTING YOUR FLU SHOT AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. It takes two weeks for it to be fully effective.
- PRACTICE GOOD HAND WASHING. Wipe down surfaces with anti-bacterial wipes and avoid touching your face if possible.
- GET ENOUGH SLEEP. Sleep is essential to keep our immune systems strong; we should get 7-8 hours each night! Most importantly, Tuten said “To find whatever it is that brings you peace; listening to music, reading, etc., and take the time to be mindful and do it.” Holidays can be stressful and traveling only adds to that. Keeping a healthy mind definitely helps to keep your body healthy as well. “Mental health is as important as physical health; they are very much entwined.”
Cigna.com offers some more proven advice to keep healthy while traveling:
- STAY ACTIVE. If possible you should get up to move and stretch your legs to prevent a blood clot (or DVT). If you aren’t allowed to leave your seat, try stretching out your feet and rolling your ankles to keep the blood flowing properly
- HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE. The stale air in the cabin can wreak havoc on your body! Drink water to keep your thirst at bay. A little spray bottle of water to mist your face and saline nose drops will help keep your skin and nostrils from drying out.
- HAVE A SNACK, BUT NOT TOO MUCH. You don’t want to end up air sick. This isn’t the time to try out new foods either.
This holiday season a little forethought can help you stay well and allow you to enjoy the time with family and friends! Enjoy your holiday travels!!
If you want to see first hand WHY planes can be so dirty, head over to @PassengerShaming on Instagram. You are forewarned; there are some things you cannot unsee. Bare-feet, dirty diapers, toenail clippings and more explain why surfaces are not as clean as they may seem.
by April Tisher