There are germs everywhere in our daily lives, but when we travel, it seems we are more susceptible to picking up unwanted viruses. Maybe it’s the fact that we are confined in an airplane with all sorts of airborne bacteria, or we try foods that are new to our tastebuds (and our digestive system), or the fact we’re always on the go, trying to make the most of our vacation. Whatever the reason, our family will definitely be making some changes the next time we hit the road to try and avoid a repeat of the illness that swept through our house after our trip.
When you travel one of the most important things you can try to do for your mind and body is to stay healthy. Most of the time this is easier said than done. On our last trip, one child ended up sick while we were on vacation, my husband and another child were sick the week after we returned, and I came down with the same virus the following week. We were all pretty miserable.
5 Tips to Stay Healthy When You Travel
1. Get outside and exercise
When we are home, we try to engage in some form of physical activity each and every day. When we are on vacation, we are out walking, swimming, zip lining, you name it, we want to get out and do it. Our kids never complain about being active when we travel because we try to make it fun and give them a voice in the activities we choose. Don’t be sedentary on vacation. Exercising as a family is great bonding time, just be sure to find an activity that everyone enjoys to keep complaints to a minimum. Look for opportunities to put a little workout into your daily routine. Take the stairs, go for a hike, borrow bikes from the hotel, or play tennis. Whatever you choose to do, be sure to wear your sunscreen, because that could cause another set of problems altogether.
Before you leave home, be sure to make every effort to get some restful sleep. If you’re flying through time zones, try to adjust your body clock to be closer to your destination a couple of nights before departure. If you want to know how we do this when we travel with kids, check out our 12 Tips for Preventing Jet Lag. When you arrive, it is typical to want to venture out and explore your destination right away. Don’t try to do too much and see everything that first day. Make time for some rest, because your body needs it. Sometimes we forget to do this and maybe that’s why we all ended up sick. There was too much fun to be had. Next time we will plan for restful nights and sleeping in some mornings as needed. This is especially important for kids because tired kids will RUIN your vacation. Trust me, we’ve been there.
3. Eat and drink wisely
Many people use vacation as an excuse to eat and drink anything and everything (guilty), but it is important not to over do it. Don’t sample everything at a buffet, where we are often tempted to eat more than we ever would at home. Try to eat a balanced breakfast, and then choose one meal a day that will be your “splurge” meal.
Choose your dining options carefully. Don’t try new foods just to say you tried them, and avoid any restaurants that might have unsanitary conditions or serve questionable food if you want to avoid stomach issues.
We always travel with a stash of healthy snacks. These are great to have on the plane ride or when we are out exploring and the kids begin to whine. Sometimes it isn’t easy to find snacks for our nut allergic son, so we try to have snacks on hand for this reason as well. Having a stash of go to snacks can really keep everyone eating healthy.
It goes without saying, but don’t over indulge in alcohol when you travel or you may end up missing some of your vacation. Also, remember to drink plenty of water, both on the plane and throughout the duration of the trip. If the quality of water at your destination is questionable, use filter watered for drinking and brushing teeth. Don’t even risk it. Always remember that hydration will help keep you healthy.
4. Wash hands and use hand sanitizer/wipes
I have anti-bacterial wipes at my disposal at all times. You might even call it an addiction. My kids and husband tease me about it, but they always know who to ask when they need one.
When we travel, our kids touch everything and that doesn’t help anyone stay healthy. It starts at the airport, from the security check points to the rails on the escalators, they touch it all, so we wash our hands when we get to the gate. When we get on the plane, I wipe down the trays and the armrests. (Lots of germs here, people). I also do this because of the nut allergy, but everyone benefits. When we are out exploring at our destination they touch everything. Dirty taxi cabs, stair rails, exhibit computer screens, are you feeling me? They are walking germ bombs by the time we leave and now you know why I always carry hand wipes! Also, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have them (and yourself) wash hands before eating. That’s where most of the germs that go in our mouth come from, our hands! Preventing it at the source is where it all begins.
5. Stress less
Our kids can often test our patience when we travel, and it is important to remember that we are on vacation to enjoy ourselves. Elevated stress levels are not helpful for anyone and reminding ourselves to be patient (because kids may be tired) is important. When traveling with children, things will not always run smoothly, that is a given. We do ourselves a favor by realizing that early on in our children’s lives. If you find yourself unable to calm down for any reason, try taking a walk, find a yoga class, or sit down and relax for a bit. Split parenting duties with your spouse if you find you need some alone time, because vacation is not supposed to be stressful, it’s all about enjoying yourself.