Posted: November 2023
(4 Minute Read)
My family loves to travel. Who doesn't, right? Years back, we promised to travel more often. As a dual-physician household, we were extremely busy. But, we valued time away with our children, and we wanted to explore the world together while they were still living under our roof.
We've taken some incredible winter trips: skiing in Colorado, exploring geysers in Iceland and soaking up legends in Scotland. That said, traveling isn't always easy, and it's especially tricky during the winter months. While winter travel can bring immense joy and thrilling adventures, it also presents unique challenges for maintaining good health.
First things first, if you're traveling internationally and need to get up-to-date on vaccinations, you can check what immunizations are available online. If you know the vaccinations you need, go ahead and schedule an appointment ahead of your trip.
Now, let's explore some practical tips and valuable insights for staying healthy while embarking on holiday getaways and winter vacations. Whether you're looking for essential items to combat winter ailments or methods to beat the dreaded jet lag, these holiday travel tips will hopefully ensure not only a safe trip, but an enjoyable one, as well.
Stock up on cold and flu remedies, such as decongestants, cough suppressants and throat lozenges, to address common winter ailments. Nothing's worse than finally going on that trip you've been planning, only to come down with a potentially preventable illness.
Ensure you have an ample supply of hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes to maintain hygiene and reduce the risk of infections. They may offer you a wipe on your flight, but everyone knows that one is never enough. And don't forget to pack a first aid kit containing bandages, antiseptic wipes and pain relievers for unexpected minor injuries. You'll avoid having to search for a pharmacy, whether on a mountaintop or while soaking up the sun at the beach.
Prioritize a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals to support your immune system. This is not exclusive to vacations, but when you're traveling, it's important to ensure your body is in its optimal state.
Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and consuming warm beverages to combat dry winter air and potential in-flight dehydration. Consider keeping a water bottle on hand during flights and taking small sips throughout its duration. Take it a step further and use undereye hydration gels to maintain a fresh look and keep this sensitive area moist.
Gradually adjust your sleep schedule a few days before your trip to help acclimate to the new time zone. According to the Sleep Foundation, this causes less of a discrepancy between your circadian rhythm and the local time when arriving at your destination.
To alleviate the effects of jet lag, stay hydrated (another reason to do so!) as well as moisturized, avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption, and take short naps. Dr. Matank Shukla of the Asthma & Sleep Institute suggests travelers' carry-on bag includes "...a bottle of moisturizing lotion, lip balm and a hydrating spray with essential oils (not just water) to spritz your face with occasionally."
Layering clothes helps us adapt to varying temperatures both indoors and outdoors. Be sure to invest in a quality winter coat, gloves, hat and scarf to protect against the cold and wind. Make a list ahead of time — and check what you already have at home. It's always great to stay within budget and not have to buy something new for a single trip.
Choose nutritious meal options, incorporating fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains into your diet. Be mindful of portion sizes and avoid overindulging in heavy or high-calorie foods. If you have dietary restrictions, be sure your dining options can accommodate them. The last thing you want to deal with while traveling is an upset stomach.
Engage in regular physical activity to keep your energy levels up and maintain overall well-being.
Before you leave home, research your destination's safety guidelines and local COVID-19 protocols to ensure a secure and enjoyable experience. The U.S. Department of State provides country-specific COVID-19 travel rules.
Travel is tiring. It often necessitates long hours to reach your destination and welcomes you with jet lag. The excitement of being away from home and experiencing new things can be draining. It's important for our bodies to recharge.
So, be sure to schedule downtime in your itinerary to rest. This will help prevent burnout and fatigue. And keep in mind that rest doesn't have to simply mean sleep. Consider low-key activities, like taking a walk outside, reading or practicing yoga.
It's important to find ways for everyone to have fun. For instance, if you're exploring the architecture of a historic place — which your little ones might not find too thrilling — give them a job to do while the adults soak up the history. Put them in charge of photography, or start a location-themed I Spy game. Try to remain flexible when traveling, and enjoy each moment. You never know what you may stumble upon!
Winter travel can be just as enjoyable as summer vacations. Pack essential items to combat potential illness, manage jet lag, dress appropriately, maintain a balanced diet and stay active. These practical holiday travel tips empower you to make the most of your time while safeguarding your health throughout the journey. Enjoy making your winter memories!
These articles are intended for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in these articles. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise or medication regimen.