How to Stay Healthy When You Travel

Jessica Peterson

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Living on a tiny island at the edge of the Pacific Ocean means I regularly travel for 24 hours straight to get to the Mainland. I’ve even gone around the world in 40 days. The human body, no matter how healthy, can only handle so much. The worst thing that can happen is a sickness that ruins your travel. At the risk of sounding mom-ish, here’s how to stay healthy when you travel!

Skip the recycled air

Why? Because it’s recycled germs. Duh! I am always cold on airplanes, so I don’t mind forgoing that little burst of viral plague that hits you right in the eye. Instead use a fan or a cold pack to cool yourself.

Stay warm

I’ve gotten the most sick when I’ve gotten the most cold on a flight. Wear warm layers even if you’re flying to a tropical island. I always bring a scarf, sweater, and thick socks, especially for red eye (overnight) flights.

Stay hydrated

It is essential to health to replenish the body’s fluids at altitude. Hydration also lessens the effects of jetlag. Airlines are unreasonably stingy with water on some flights. This is one of my biggest pet peeves! Don’t let that get in the way of drinking lots of water. Yes, I push my button and request water often. I also like to sit in an aisle seat near a restroom so I’m not tempted not to get up and pee. I also drink Emergen-C Vitamin C packets if I feel a cold coming on.

Get Sleep

For long-haul flights of seven hours or more, consider taking a sleeping pill or having a stiff drink. I know some don’t recommend drinking while flying because it’s dehydrating, but stay with me on this one… The body repairs itself during sleep, so it’s essential to get some shut-eye, even if you have to force yourself. This goes for the time you spend on the ground. Bring an eye mask, ear plugs, and an inflatable travel pillow for maximum comfort. I bring a an inflatable foot rest as well to avoid back pain in those awful coach seats!

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During road trips, I’m sometimes guilty of borrowing sleep time to get from Point A to Point B, but I don’t recommend doing that more than once a week while traveling.

Keep hands clean

The easiest way to infect yourself is with your hands — touching eyes, nose, and mouth. I may look OCD, but I’m constantly using scented hand wipes to keep my hands clean, so I bring at least a pack for each flight. Wipees are great when siteseeing because bathrooms are downright nefarious in some places.

Take your medicine

You will find that pharmaceutical regulations vary from country to country. Over-the-counter drugs in the States may require a prescription in say, Australia. Then again, you may be able to get fairly strong prescription medications over-the-counter in other countries! Bring more than enough of your own medication and prescriptions and ask a local pharmacy tech or doctor to explain use and dosage of unfamiliar medications in foreign countries.

Bring Band-aids

In the effort to avoid infection in cuts, band-aids are essential. They also double as blister pads and Lord knows I’ve had my share of those!

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Jessica Peterson
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Jessica Peterson

Jessica Peterson is a travel filmmaker, photographer, and journalist. She released her first documentary film about indigenous culture on Guam in 2016, after having lived nearly 7 years on the Pacific island. Jessica is currently on the Great American Roadtrip in her Airstream trailer.
Jessica Peterson
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  • These are some great tips! I have never heard of an inflatable footrest, what a great idea.

    http://worldbloggers.net/

  • There are some really good tips. I find airplanes are the worst for catching a cold or the flu. So many people and germs are everywhere. I like to use a disinfectant cloth to wipe the area around my sit, especially before eating.

  • lavieenliz

    great tips!

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  • Great tips! I always find I get sick towards the end of each journey, which makes the journey on the plane almost unbearable.

    Tessa / Bramble & Thorn

  • Robyn

    These tips are seriously so useful! I just spent 6 months travelling around Europe and staying hydrated was SO key for me. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    http://www.skinnybelle.com/

  • Love the tips – water and sleep are SUPER crucial! I sometimes spare time for sleeping early/in once in a while during travels, better than getting sick!

    Oh and don’t worry, you’re not the only one looking OCD sometimes for too much hands cleaning, haha!

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