How to Stay Healthy When Traveling

Right now it feels like no matter where you look, you see something about the COVID-19 outbreak. It can be daunting, especially if you have travel plans on the horizon. Millions of people, including myself, are questioning whether to go on that work trip or still take that vacation. 

While I wish the answer was easy, no two people have the same situation, so decisions should be handled on a case by case basis. My recommendations are to decide whether to travel based on the below factors.

  1. Above all, follow guidance from the CDC and WHO. These organizations exist to protect people and save lives during health crises. They have tons of expertise and keep up-to-date lists of locations that are high risk to travel to. If your destination is on that list (and your mode of transport hasn’t yet been cancelled) you should probably cancel or reschedule your plans. You’ll also be more likely to get your money back from any hotels, transportation companies etc. if the travel is not recommended by these trusted organizations.
  2. Know your body and the status of your own health. If you are older, already sick, pregnant, or have a medical condition that weakens your immune system, you should consider pausing your travel plans. These populations can be more susceptible.
  3. Consider all the factors…
    • How long will you be gone for? If the answer is just a few days or a week, the answer is likely easier than if you’re committing to a full month abroad. 
    • How far will you be traveling? A few hours of flights is a lot easier on your body and provides less contact with others than 24 hours of travel to get to the other side of the world.
    • What type of accommodations will you have at your destination? If you’re staying in a hostel or something similar, you could be sharing common space and facilities with other people. If that makes you nervous, consider relocating to a place more private (this will likely come with an increased cost, but your peace of mind might be worth it). 
    • Do you have the ability to self-quarantine yourself after your trip in the event that you do feel unwell? If you have a job where you can work from home, this might not be a concern, but for some that is more difficult. 
    • Can you get refunds for your bookings? If I can’t get a refund, I’m likely still going! 
    • Will you still enjoy yourself? If you’re someone that has a lot of anxiety about getting sick abroad, you might want to consider talking to a therapist so that you can enjoy your trip to the fullest. If you’re reading this article, you’re hopefully already learning ways you can put your mind at ease.

If you still feel good about traveling after considering the above (I still do!), here are some ways I suggest staying healthy while traveling! 

General Travel Tips

  • Give your body the sleep it needs! If you’ll be up for more than 12 hours, you want to set your body up for success.
  • Vitamins, vitamins, vitamins. Give your immune system an extra boost with multivitamins, Emergen-C, or whatever it is that you feel you need.
  • Get outside! Fresh air can be great for feeling rejuvenated (permitting that you are not in a region with poor air quality), especially if you’re sharing small quarters with others.
  • Eat healthy. It can be tempting to spoil yourself on vacations, but make sure you’re still eating nutritious and balanced meals. Pack some granola bars or healthy snacks in advance if you’re worried about not having access to it. 
  • Pack hand sanitizer. Washing your hands is always the best, but hand sanitizer can be valuable for moments when that’s not possible. Also- avoid touching high traffic surfaces like escalator railings.
  • Avoid touching your face. Sooo many germs can live on your hands and you don’t want those anywhere near your nose or mouth! If you’re really bad about this, consider putting a lotion on your hands that you don’t like the smell of. 

Flight Tips 

  • If possible, choose seats on the plane that are farther from others. Grab that solo window seat or make sure you’re next to your healthy travel buddy. While many airlines charge extra for seat selection, I find that it’s super nice to be able to know my location and even change it last minute on an airline’s app if needed.
  • Travel with disinfecting wipes! That tray table, seat belt and enticing entertainment screen are germ city.
  • Travel with your own water bottle. Hydration is super important when flying and having your own bottle means you know that no one else has breathed on it or touched the inside. 

Cruise Tips 

  • Dodge those buffets! Food sitting out near lots of people is a recipe for sickness. If you can’t resist the buffet, at least avoid using the communal tongs by using a new utensil to grab items.
  • Purposefully seek out open air spaces. Opt for the stairs or walking on the deck versus an elevator or enclosed hallway.
  • Book an outside room. I recommend this for anyone cruising in general. It’s so fun to watch the boat pull into ports, but it’s also great to be able to conveniently get fresh air.

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