What’s even worse than being sick? Being sick while traveling. A strange bed, strange bathroom, strange food and strangers are usually not conducive to recuperation, and no one wants to spend their precious vacation days holed up in a hotel room hugging a box of tissues with the shakes and chills.
To avoid this happening to you, develop these habits of the healthy traveler.
• Start the trip rested. Allow DOUBLE the amount of time that you think it will take you to pack, finish the laundry or gas up the car, and plan on getting a full night’s sleep the night before you leave. Starting a journey in a rushed state of mind will set the stage for your whole trip, and you want to begin with a “full house” of health – which includes plenty of rest.
• Take your vitamins. For some reason it is easy to take a daily multivitamin at home, but when travel rearranges your schedule and the time zones, pills can slip through the cracks. Carry your nutritional supplements with you in your carry-on or day bag to make sure you continue your normal, healthy regimen.
• Your secret weapon: Vitamin C. This revered vitamin is a known immune system defender, and a high dose from a supplement (I swear by Emergen-C with a 1000mg dose) can buck up your system and fight off invaders. Take a big dose of vitamin C before you leave your house, carry a few doses for the times you feel a bit run-down during your trip, then dose again after you arrive home.
• Fried potatoes. Mild stomach pains are often a part of traveling to new places, however fried potato dishes like French fries or hash browns – while not your healthiest options! – are easy to find almost anywhere and can calm a rolling tummy. The easy starch and soothing fats of fried potatoes can settle your stomach when nothing else sounds good to eat – and the comfort factor doesn’t hurt, either!
• Go local. If you do find yourself feeling slightly ill or like a bug is coming on, dose up on vitamin C and then go see a local doctor (or in some countries, pharmacist). Local medical care is usually much less expensive and much better than you might expect, and it will be the quickest way for you to get help and feel better. If you don’t speak the language, find a translator – often your hotel concierge can set you on the right path to finding medical service.
• Sleep. While spending time on vacation snoozing doesn’t sound too exciting, it is imperative that you listen to your body and rest when you need to. This means that you might have to miss museum #3 for an afternoon nap – and that is just fine. Always travel with earplugs and an eye mask for those times when you cannot control your environment – which happens quite often when traveling.
• Drink lots of water. Many travel pains can be attributed purely to dehydration, so drink tons of water, especially if you are traveling to a climate that is much hotter or a different humidity than you are used to (beach residents may not notice dehydration on their mountain vacation because they are not sweating). Carry a refillable water bottle with you everywhere you go, and supplement your liquids with juices, teas and other local beverages!
• Be flexible. Every trip will contain some sort of snafu, whether you miss a train, eat the wrong dinner or come back to the hotel to find your boyfriend doing your laundry in the bidet. Expect a few snags and be ready to roll with the punches. Stressing out will never help your situation and will only knock your immune system down a few notches.
• Give yourself an extra day. When arriving home from a big trip, tell everyone that you will actually return the following day – this gives you a whole 24 hours to decompress, unpack, clean up and sort through your thoughts before the barrage of “How was your trip?” phone calls and inbox overflow. Give yourself one more day of vacation to spend at home straight chilling in order to ease yourself back into reality.