Whether you're heading home to be with family or going on a much needed vacation, staying healthy while traveling can be a challenge. Jetlag can wear down your immune system, a new place can mean new germs, and a busy schedule can leave you feeling exhausted. Luckily, with some planning you may be able to avoid feeling sick while traveling.
Jet lag occurs when your body's internal clock, or circadian rhythm, is out of sync with the time zone of your destination. Rapid travel across multiple time zones disrupts your sleep-wake cycle, leaving you struggling to adjust to the local time. To help prevent jet lag, adjust your schedule before departure - gradually shift your sleep schedule to align with your destination's time zone a few days before your trip. Also, plan short naps during the flight to minimize fatigue upon arrival. Melatonin supplements may help to regulate sleep patterns as well. Consult with your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dosage and timing.
Traveling to new places or to visit family can expose you to germs. Minimize the risk of illness by practicing good hygiene. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer when soap isn't available. Avoid touching your face to prevent the spread of germs, and consider bringing disinfectant wipes to clean commonly-touched surfaces.
Stay hydrated and rested
Proper hydration is essential for overall health, and it becomes even more critical when you're on the move. Carry a water bottle and aim to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Dehydration weakens your immune system, so staying well-hydrated is key to fending off illnesses. Lack of sleep also weakens your immune system. Stick to a regular sleep schedule, even when changing time zones. Create a sleep-friendly environment by using blackout curtains, earplugs, and an eye mask to ensure restful nights.
One last thing! Bring a small first aid kit when you travel. You never know when you’ll need it.