Planes, trains, rideshares – no matter how you travel, you’ll want to stay healthy on the go. Whether you are traveling for work or pleasure, heading to the ski slopes of Colorado, the shops of Paris, the beaches of Hawaii, or on a less glamourous work trip, keeping your immune system healthy is one of the best ways to make for a worry-free trip.
Most people don’t get enough sleep or drink enough water when they travel, and those two factors alone can leave your body more vulnerable and make you feel sluggish. Staying hydrated and well-rested are the two most important ways to stay healthy while you travel, but that’s not all you can do to protect yourself.
Here are our jetsetter wellness tips for staying healthy on the go.
Before You Travel
Don’t wait until you hit the road to think about staying healthy while you travel. Get a head start before you leave home with these tips, plus eating a diet rich in immunity-boosting nutrients and supplement for immune system support.
- Be proactive about immune support. Get started on probiotics and immune system boosters like Echinacea, Vitamin C and B Vitamins. Also, reinforce your diet with essential fatty acids (EFAs) like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Foods to help support your immune system may include citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruit, for vitamin C and B vitamins and whole foods like eggs, avocados and fish for essential fatty acids.
- Buy a reusable water bottle. Hydration is very important when you travel, especially if you’re flying since climate-controlled airplane cabins have drier, relatively less humid, air than your typical home or office. You can take your empty reusable water bottle through security and refill it before boarding the plane, as well as when you get to your destination. This will save you money, and help your body stay hydrated so you’ll be less likely to feel the effects of dehydration, which can include dry, itchy skin, tiredness, irritability and even muscle fatigue. Reusable bottles are also better for the environment, but remember, if you plan to travel someplace where tap water isn’t drinkable, buying bottled water will be unavoidable.
- Pack your vitamins and medications. Find a travel case or use zip-top baggies, which take up less room than bottles. If you are flying, make sure any liquid medication is less than 3.4 oz. per TSA guidelines and be sure to bring copies of your prescriptions.
- Stock up on healthy, protein-rich snacks. Pack snacks that are easy to store and non-perishable like nuts, seeds or energy bars so you’ll have go-to healthy options if you’re delayed or missing meals. Try making these homemade energy bars packed with protein and fiber to help give you energy, stave off hunger, and mindless snacking.
- Get adequate sleep and relax. Travel planning can be stressful, to say the least. Starting a trip without enough sleep is not a good way to kick things off. Reduce stress and sleep better by preparing for you day the night before, reducing caffeine intake and blue light exposure before bed, and supplementing your diet with magnesium or melatonin, which may help you relax and get to sleep. Magnesium also helps your body in many other ways, and to learn more about magnesium, see Magnesium Benefits and Uses.
While You Travel
Pack the essentials — Keep the items below handy while you travel, placing them in your carry-on bag or travel tote bag.
- Ginger for your tummy and digestive support
- Allergy relief to keep you comfortable wherever you go
- Sleep aids like melatonin and magnesium
- Lip moisturizer, lotion, eye drops and saline nasal spray since airplane air is notoriously dry, and the lack of moisture can dry out the skin and membranes inside your nose
- Gum to help ease ear discomfort due to pressure changes during plane takeoff and landing, plus help you avoid mindless snacking
- A face mask to repel germs, be sure to have one handy in case your airline requires them too
- Things that will make you comfy like a blanket or shawl, pillow, eye mask, headphones, ear plugs or book
Take care of you — Keep yourself relaxed, comfortable and healthy with these tips.
- Wear socks if you are flying; they can help keep your feet healthy by avoiding germs when you take your shoes off in airport security lines, and they will keep your toes warm while you travel
- Fill your reusable water bottle, making sure it’s empty if you go through an airport security line, but fill it up before you get on the plane, and then get plenty of water while you’re flying
- Sanitize often since planes and public restrooms are very germy; sanitize your hands after touching popular germ-infested places like airplane armrests, especially aisle armrests, and tray tables, plus anything in a public bathroom, door handles or stair rails
- If you'll be on the water, but your stomach would prefer you stay on land, motion sickness tablets do wonders to keep sea sickness at bay
- Get adequate sleep because getting rest while traveling is especially important if you are flying overnight or for an extended period; if you have trouble sleeping on the go, melatonin supplements can help
During Your Vacation
- Stay active. One of the best ways to see a new city is to walk or bike around. Keeping your body active is a great way to see new sights while burning calories.
- Hydrate. While it can be tempting to try a new beer, wine or cocktail at every restaurant, make sure you get enough water by drinking a glass of water between each alcoholic drink.
- Protect yourself. Be sure to use sunscreen whenever you go outside. Don't let a cloudy day fool you, UV can penetrate through clouds so don't skip out on sun protection! A little bug spray also goes a long way for a pest-free getaway.
- Try local food. Eating fresh fruits and veggies from the area is a great way to give your body nutrients and try new things. Have at least one serving of fresh fruits or veggies with every meal.
- Sleep. Not getting enough Zzzzs while you travel can lead to overeating and moodiness, which is never fun when you are traveling, so aim for at least six hours of sleep each night to stay rested and refreshed.
- Wash your hands often. Sanitize or wash your hands often to limit germs since some of the most germ-infested places are ATMs, hand rails, and door handles; good hand hygiene can help protect you, your family and others.
While many of these tips apply to air travel, most of them are also applicable to road trips, cruise adventures, train rides and more. Hopefully a few of them come in handy for your next excursion. Bon voyage!
Have a tip for staying healthy while traveling that we missed? Add it in the comments below!
To help you prepare for your next trip, you might also enjoy reading Trust Your Gut Health: Build a Healthier Gut with Probiotics and Magnesium for Sleep.
About Lindsey Toth, MS, RD
Registered Dietitian, Swanson Health Products
Lindsey is a nationally-recognized registered dietitian and nutritionist with a soft spot for ice cream. She empowers people to take charge of their health by finding the balance between the pleasure and nourishment in food. Her philosophy is that you should take care of your body because it's the only permanent home you have. It's what inspired her to pursue a career in nutrition and, ultimately, led her to Swanson Health.
Published 2/1/2018 | Updated 6/8/2021