How to Stay Healthy While Travelling
With winter in full swing now is the time our minds wander to warmer climates - and the opportunity to travel to them isn’t far behind! Unfortunately, some aspects of travel can cause a pause in the fun. While we look forward to being whisked away to somewhere new, we often forget that drastic shifts in climate can open us up to attacks on our immune systems, new environments hold a variety of unexpected flora and fauna, and experimenting with local cuisines can play roulette with our digestive systems.
In spite of all of this, I love to travel too! That’s why I’ve developed a list of the most important precautions to take prior to taking off for your next exotic destination so you can get the most out of your upcoming vacations!
Taking a daily multivitamin to ensure you’re getting the vitamins and minerals you need for optimal health is always a good idea, but it’s extra important when you’re preparing for a trip that could include flying and staying in various accommodations. Be sure to include Zinc, B-complex, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D3 to strengthen your immune system before and after your trip.
Making sure you’re well hydrated is critical preparation for trips as dehydration is a major factor in travel. Since travel generally includes conditions such as travelling in un-humidified airplanes, being in hot or arid climates, or exerting more energy than usual; we need to ensure that our hydration levels are optimized to support changes in bodily functions. When the airline attendant asks for your beverage order take it as a signal to have a glass of water and avoid those cups of coffee or glasses of wine. And - never be shy to ask for refills. If anyone knows in-flight dehydration, it’s the cabin crew!
It’s not just fun to experience new places, travel can be so exciting that it can send your body into high gear. Think for a moment about your last vacation. How many new situations, thrilling moments, and unexpected occurrences did you experience? While you worked through each of them, your body’s coping mechanisms were in full effect, helping you to experience joy, exhilaration, and stress - all heightened by brand new circumstances. When you consider it that way, it’s clear that everything including your digestive system, immunity, circadian rhythm, and even your adrenal glands are on active duty. Help your body to manage these ups and downs with natural supplements:
Adaptogens like reishi, ashwagandha, and holy basil can help fight stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Begin taking your preferred adaptogen at least a week before you travel. Natural supplements take time to build to reach peak efficacy.
Antimicrobioals are proven pathogen killers that can assist your digestive and immune systems in warding off new strains of bacteria to which your body might not be accustomed. Sometimes our best efforts to avoid foods like washed salads and raw vegetables that cause common stomach bugs still don’t keep us safe. In that case it’s good to know you can start early and ward off traveler’s tummy and diarrhea with antimicrobials like oil of oregano, grapefruit seed extract and colloidal silver.
Melatonin helps your body rebalance its circadian rhythm or find homeostasis in its wake and sleep cycle. This is the supplement of choice for fighting jet lag! Most melatonin supplements suggest taking the dose before going to bed in your new destination, and to do for a couple of days until you feel you’ve adapted.
We talk about the benefits of these good bacteria often - and for good reasons! Keeping your gut flora nice and strong is of extra importance when travelling since there are many instances when you could encounter new or different foods and beverages. Even a seemingly innocent salad could harbour a surprise when eaten in a foreign land, since bacteria in water differ greatly around the world, as do food care standards! Help your gut to be as healthy as possible prior to and during your trip by supplementing with a great probiotic.
Ginger is world renown for easing nausea, stomach upset, indigestion, and even motion sickness. Sometimes there’s no need to try over-the-counter medications when a good natural supplement can also do an effective job. Keep some natural ginger chews with you at all times for when those unforeseen moments strike.
First Aid Kit
A classic first aid kit is always welcome when going away. You can purchase a travel sized one at any pharmacy or make your own. I always include:
Adhesive bandages (multiple sizes)
Antiseptic wound cleanser (like alcohol or iodine pads)
Blister pads or moleskin
Safety pins and scissors
Whether you’re going surfing or snowboarding or something in between, you always need to protect your skin from sun exposure. The reflective glare from sea and snow can make your skin more prone to burns which not only make your trip less enjoyable but it can also be dangerous in the long run. Look for natural ingredients such as zinc oxide which is a mineral used to create a physical block from the sun. Additional ingredients such as vitamin E or C are also nice ways of giving your skin a nice boost of topical antioxidants. My favourite sunscreen is the Garden Goddess brand. We carry it at the clinic.
If you’re taking any prescription medication, please be sure to have enough for the duration of your trip, plus a couple of extra doses, in case of unanticipated travel changes. Always make sure that your prescriptions are in labelled bottles and that you also have a doctor’s note if necessary, as some medications might not be universally understood or accepted in different countries.
Travel is exciting and has so many benefits from providing a well-deserved break from routine to exploring history and learning about different cultures to taking on new challenges and building new skills. We want you to get the very most out of your adventures, no matter how relaxed or extreme they might be.
If you’re travelling soon and want to review how to best prepare you and your family before heading away, please book an appointment here. Together we can make sure that you’re ready for all the excitement that lies ahead in good health!
Here’s to your next adventure!
Dr. Lisa Vecchi, ND