March is a popular time to travel (Spring Break, anyone?), but whether you’re headed to a warmer or a colder climate, it’s important to remember that it’s still cold and flu season. This spring, as flu activity has spiked throughout the U.S., travelers may want to take extra precautions – such as those outlined below – to help keep themselves and their fellow travelers healthy.
- Get some shut eye. Let’s face it – travel can be tiring, especially if you’re traveling across time zones or overseas. Lack of sleep can affect your immune system, one of the most important things you can do to ward off illness is to get a good night’s sleep. How much sleep is enough? Listen to your body – if you feel exhausted, don’t power through. Get some rest.
- Eat something. After a travel day, many people are tempted to jump right into sightseeing at their destination; however, after going without nourishment for several hours, your body is in dire need of nutrients. Add to that the fact that you’re likely using up more energy than you’re used to at home, and skipping a meal is a recipe for disaster. No matter if you’re staying in a hotel or in a vacation rental, take the time to visit the local market and start your trip off right.
- When possible, walk. Not only is walking a great way to get some exercise, but it’s also an easy (and free!) way to familiarize yourself with the place you’re visiting. Bonus: Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp. If you don’t have time for a morning or an evening walk, consider natural ways to weave this activity into your itinerary – for example, walking to your destination and taking public transportation back to your hotel or hostel.
- Protect your skin. Whether you’re planning a day at the beach or touring the town, be sure to apply sunscreen every two hours to protect your skin against sunburn and damage. Doing so may not only reduce your risk of skin cancer, but also prevent you from having to deal with an uncomfortable or unsightly burn on your special trip! If you’re packing light, consider combination products, such as moisturizer with SPF.
- Strengthen your immune system. While the jury is still out on the exact effect of supplements on the body, many experts recommend daily multi-vitamin or vitamin C tabs for travelers, especially if you feel they’ve worked for you in the past. If you aren’t currently taking supplements, talk to your doctor about starting a regimen a few days before your trip to boost your immune system before you get on the road.
- Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated throughout your trip (and especially on a plane) helps your nasal passages stay hydrated, making them less susceptible to cracking and infections. While en route, opt for water over dehydrating beverages like coffee. Once at your destination, load up on your hotel or hostel’s water before you leave for the day and when you return, and consider bringing a reusable water bottle – perhaps with a built-in filtration system – with you during the day as you explore.
- Sanitize after touching germy spots. While they’re not a direct substitution for hand washing, consider packing hand sanitizer and wet napkins so that you have them handy when you don’t have access to soap and a sink (e.g., after touching things like ATMs, door handles, dining trays, etc.) When you sanitize, be sure to cover your entire hand, including any rings, for full protection from harmful germs.