5 Ways to Stay Healthy During Holiday Travel

Jake Newby

| 3 min read

Have you ever felt a sniffle come on or a cough develop just as you are getting ready to go on vacation? It can be an awful feeling. No one wants to get sick ahead of some fun time off from work and school, especially around the holidays. But since the holidays overlap with flu season, the possibility is always there.
Luckily there are preventative measures you can take while traveling to lower your odds of getting sick. These tips are most applicable to travelers who are flying but can also benefit those preparing for a lengthy road trip.
Hydrate: Drinking lots of water is always important, and it should be a priority for anyone traveling. Get your trip off on the right foot by avoiding alcohol while on the plane. Want something more flavorful than water? Bring packets of dissolvable electrolytes to mix into your water. You can also pack low-sugar sports drinks or carry on water to the plane.
Wash hands often and sanitize: When you’re in and out of different airports or rest stops, use those times to thoroughly wash your hands. Did you know that 97% of people fail to properly wash their hands? You should wet, lather with soap, then scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Read the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) detailed guidance for more information. You could also pack a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer, and be sure it has a strength of at least 60% alcohol.
Stay current on vaccinations: Although there has been lower reported flu activity in the past several years due to many public health measures for COVID-19, experts have bene concerned that this will weaken the community’s natural immunity against the flu. September or October is the optimal time to get a flu shot, but often, flu activity peaks between December and February. So it’s not too late to get your flu shot now if you haven’t already. According to CDC guidance, it is also safe to receive flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time.
Sneak in walking or other activity: Failure to exercise regularly makes you more likely to catch a cold than someone who does work out often. Obviously, it’s not feasible to break out a full-on exercise regimen during breaks in travel, but there are creative ways to get your steps up. At a rest stop, take 10 minutes to walk, jog, or do jumping jacks. Those 10 minutes count toward the recommended minutes of physical activity you need every week. At an airport, walk to your gate, when possible, instead of taking a shuttle, and avoid a moving walkway. Any physical activity is better than none, and even light walking can help your immune system fight infection.
Avoid peak travel times, if possible: This tip applies more to those booking flights. You can’t always choose our travel time, but when you have the luxury to do so, travel during non-peak times, like the middle of the week and mid-morning or midday instead of the early morning or evening. This strategy can help minimize your exposure to germs, while also keeping you on your normal sleep schedule.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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