Staying Healthy & Energetic While Traveling

Going on vacation is good for the soul, but getting there can sometimes be…not so fun. Whether you’re jet-setting around the world or just trying to make it to grandma’s house in one piece, there are bound to be bumps in the road. Long travel days plus exposure to a lot of new germs can add up to one major challenge on the immune system. But with the right self-care and a little planning, you can give yourself a leg up in the health and vitality department. Try these all-natural tips for staying happy and healthy while traveling — or minimizing the damage when it’s already too late.

Soak Up Your Vitamin D

Whether you’re a sun-worshipper, a pill-popper, or an eat-your-nutrients kind of person, any way you get your dose of vitamin D will be good for your immunity. Studies show that healthy vitamin D levels are linked to better immunity and fewer colds. Plus, in addition to keeping you healthy, vitamin D has also been linked to overall happiness, with studies presenting evidence that that vitamin D deficiency is a common cause of depression. What’s not to like?

Triumph Over Tummy Troubles

A certain amount of indigestion, upset stomach, constipation, or even (gasp) diarrhea is pretty common during travel. A constellation of factors, including eating unfamiliar food, drinking bad tap water, and significantly changing your schedule and surroundings can shift your stomach into distress mode.

The good news is you can ease your suffering with something as natural as peppermint oil. Try taking a few drops orally to cure belly pain. Just remember that less is more, and too much can be toxic.

Expose Yourself to Good Bacteria

Sure, you may be spritzing yourself with hand sanitizer every other minute of your trip to avoid the cooties generally present on planes, trains, and every other mode of public transportation. But to really boost your immunity in transit, you should expose yourself to some bacteria — just make sure it’s the beneficial kind. Probiotics, literally “good bacteria,” have been shown to be beneficial in boosting immunity against a number of common illnesses, including plain old colds and flus.

Drink your fluids

You probably already know that staying hydrated is crucial to your health and vitality. But with all the sneaky little obstacles involved in travel (like that tasty Bloody Mary to make your in-flight experience more bearable,) it’s easy to get sidetracked from your normal water-drinking goals. Try to stay ahead of your thirst by sipping a water bottle consistently throughout the day — especially if you’re sweating.

Try this cold-busting trick

While there’s still no “cure” for the common cold, zinc may be the closest thing we have.

Studies have shown that taking zinc orally, in lozenge or throat spray form or in a pill, can shorten the duration and severity of yucky colds, and maybe even prevent them from occurring. If you think you’ve been exposed to a respiratory illness, take zinc for a few days even if you’re not feeling symptoms yet, since it works best if you take it as soon as possible after exposure.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Take a Big Whiff

Have you noticed that the stresses of travel, combined with being away from your comfortable home routine, can set your emotions on edge? Well, if you want to trigger happiness, research says that you should breathe in citrus scents. Lemon essential oil is a great aromatherapy choice for an instant mood lift. You can even spritz a few drops into your sparkling water for an extra refreshing boost.

Get Your Daily Steps In

You probably already know that getting frequent exercise is essential for your physical health — but what about your mental health? Spoiler alert: the two go hand-in-hand. Studies have consistently shown that sweat sessions are a secret weapon in your arsenal for overall well-being. Some research even suggests that regular exercise can be effective at lifting depression. Of course, busy travel days, combined with being away from your gym, can easily get you sidetracked from your regular fitness regimen. Here’s the good news: walking, perhaps the oldest form of exercise around, is still one of the best ways to give your system a boost. Plus, it’s free, it’s a great way to explore a new place, and it doesn’t require any special equipment, so you can get your heart pumping no matter where you wind up.

What if You’re Foiled by Delays or Cancellations?

Being stranded by a cancelled flight or delayed on the way to your next destination can be a major stressor. So how do you keep your mind and body in balance? Take deep breaths, make sure you’re hydrated and well-fed, and put things in perspective. Listen to a meditation podcast on your headphones, or write a mental list of all the things that are going right for you. You’ll be on your way in no time.

Cammy Pedroja, Ph.D.

Cammy Pedroja, Ph.D. is a freelance writer and journalist covering lifestyle, culture, and women’s issues for both print and digital outlets, including USA Today, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and HealthyWay. With degrees from Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College, Cammy earned her doctorate from SUNY Binghamton. www.cammy.live/ Twitter: @CammyPedroja