You don’t have to vacation in the jungles of Peru for your travel to pose health risks. Domestic travel, as well as that to any developed part of the world, can also result in illness. Perhaps you just returned from a four-day weekend in Las Vegas and now you feel like death warmed over. Why is post-travel illness so common and what can you do to help prevent it?
Boost Your Immune System
A healthy immune system is a must for warding off the ill effects of travel. Before you leave on vacation be sure your immune system is as fit as possible. Get plenty of sleep, eat lots of antioxidants, exercise regularly and practice relaxation techniques that can be continued while you’re traveling.
Get Plenty of Sleep
A lot of things can interfere with your normal sleep schedule while you’re travelling. Unfamiliar surroundings, noise in the hallways – even a lumpy pillow can cause you to lose valuable sleep. Your busy itinerary may also be to blame.
Although the relationship between sleep and the immune system is complicated, scientists now agree that not getting enough sleep has the potential to make you sick. Sleep expert, Diwakar Balachandran, MD, says that, “A lot of studies show our T-cells go down if we are sleep deprived, and inflammatory cytokines go up. … This could potentially lead to the greater risk of developing a cold or flu.”
To avoid becoming vulnerable, be sure to pack your sleep mask and ear plugs for your trip. You may even want to bring your own pillow. Most importantly, however, keep your itinerary manageable and be sure to allow yourself plenty of time for a good night’s sleep.
Moderate Your Diet
Just the word “vacation” can be synonymous with “splurge.” Vacation is often a time when we eat rich foods and drink more alcohol. That bowl of oatmeal and half a banana that we usually have for breakfast gets tossed aside to make room for eggs Benedict or Belgium waffles. This abrupt change in diet can cause many health issues, including constipation, diarrhea and heartburn.
To avoid these risks, keep your splurging to a minimum, try to eat a healthy breakfast, and don’t eat a heavy meal right before bedtime.
Avoid and Mediate Stress
You may already be aware of the negative effects that stress can have on your health. Even short-term stress like that encountered during a vacation can cause headaches, bowel irregularities, muscle tightness and fever blisters.
To avoid as much stress as possible on vacation be sure to plan for the unexpected and leave yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going. Exercise each day and perhaps splurge on a nice relaxing massage half-way through your trip.
Most of us don’t have the luxury of spending a week in bed when we return from vacation. Spending just a little time in advance of and during your travel can help ensure a safe and healthy return.