Healthy Hints For Holiday Travel
Easy Steps That Can Make All The Difference!
STORY BY: LESLIE RESCHLY, BSN, RN
Holiday Stress is enough to handle without the complications of trains, planes and automobiles! If you find yourself taking this necessary travel step to celebrate with loved ones far or abroad, you may consider the following health-related helpful hints.
Implement the 3 R’s – Routine, Rhythm and Ritual. Stick to your morning, afternoon or evening routine as much as possible. This relates to workout periods, eating and sleep. A lack of sleep can make you irritable and cause you to make poor choices regarding diet and exercise.
Healthy Diet. Pack healthy snacks for car rides or air flights. These may include energy granola-type bars, fruit, veggies or even hummus. Consider those, which can go periods without refrigeration. Options available prevent you from choosing those less than nutritious circus peanuts at the GAS STOP (Gummy anything is my splurge of choice!). Preparation also helps to avoid the high fat, high carb food at airports and on the plane. I am a big proponent of finding a local grocery market as soon as possible upon arrival to my destination. Fruit, cheese or other healthy snacks prevent eating out at every meal. If you are forced to stay in a hotel, ask for the mini-bar to be removed and replaced with a refrigerator to store yogurt, fruit and other healthy options. Many local markets provide a sampling of several fruit bowls, cheese or hummus with veggies to go. If you are forced to eat out, consider portion sizes typical of what you would eat at home. But by all means, try the local cuisine!
Hydrate with water. Dry mucous membranes are more prone to germs! In addition, adequate hydration helps to curb hunger. Take a reusable water bottle to fill and drink throughout your trip. You will be avoiding plastic waste and always have water with you. Avoid sugar substitute drinks that often stimulate hunger and remember to drink water prior to a meal help decrease caloric intake. Beware of excess alcohol or caffeine which can both be dehydrating and contribute to jet lag symptoms.
Explore and Exercise. Consider exploration by foot around your area – be it grandma’s house or a new city. Stick to your exercise routine by contacting local gym facilities for drop in rates or selecting a hotel with exercise equipment. Use a layover to walk the airport if there is time. It seems I am always in Zone 27 to board so I know I can at least walk for 5-10 minutes! Attempt to walk around the airplane while in flight if allowed. At minimum, move your ankles in circles and up/down to assist in prevention of blood clots. Compression stockings may be beneficial for long flights. If traveling by car, use every opportunity to get out, stretch and walk around before returning to the road.
Be a “GERM A PHOBE”. Carry your own hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes. You’re your hands before eating or touching any of your mucous membranes such as nose, eyes or mouth. Wipe down surfaces you may be in contact with…especially those notorious airplane trays!!
Hit the OTC (over the counter) area of your pharmacy prior to travel. Many people exalt the positive effects of extra vitamin C products. Saline nasal spray is a favorite of many travelers because it helps to moisten those drying mucous membranes perhaps preventing invasion by cold or flu viruses and other germs. Increase your water and fiber to prevent constipation but again consider your normal routine and allow time for your body. Consider the need for sunscreen or insect repellant if your travels take you somewhere exotic.
Be safe and comfortable. Acupressure wristbands are available for those who suffer from nausea or motion sickness. Consider RFID blocking wallets to prevent identity theft from scanning of credit card or other documents. Bring along travel aids as necessary. As airplane seats no longer recline to any degree, perhaps consider a travel pillow–inflatable ones are perfect as they take minimal space upon arrival to your destination. In addition, pack lightly in a bag that you are allowed to check on. This prevents unnecessary costs and keeps your luggage with you in event of a change in flight schedule. There is something incredibly liberating about traveling with as little “ stuff “ as possible. Layer flight clothes and minimize jewelry and accessories. If this is not an option for you, at minimum take a carry on with your medications and basic change of clothing for 2-3 days. Often during winter travel, flights are changed and baggage is lost. Several shawl-like wraps are available for women that provide warmth as well as fashion and a blanket for travel. Consider pressure – venting earplugs that block noise but allow air to pass thus are more comfortable.
Should you be so lucky as to be changing multiple time zones for your travel, Source: Sean MacEntee remember to prepare for jet lag. Jet lag is the disruption of your normal sleep and waking cycle due to changes in time zones. It often takes your body and it’s internal clock a few days to catch up with travel. At least 4-7 days prior to your departure begin to make adjustments to your sleep and wake cycle. Attempt to be as rested as possible at the start of your trip. Implement your normal routines and rituals as soon as possible on arrival. Avoid over-eating, caffeine and excess alcohol. I have heard it said, “ one if by air, three if by land” meaning one alcohol drink on an airplane at altitude has the same equivalent as 3 on the land. Use sleeping pills with caution to avoid extreme grogginess. Hydrate as dehydration worsens symptoms of jet lag. Stay in the daylight on arrival to assist with resetting your internal clock. Avoid napping for greater than 20 minutes or turning in early for bed as you may find yourself awake at 2 AM with nothing to do!
Finally, Be Present in the Moment! You have traveled great distances to be with loved ones. Have fun and enjoy this Holiday Season! May you have Safe, Healthy and Happy Travels! See you in 2017!