Despite the stress associated with packing, traveling, visiting family and buying gifts, there are many joyful and relaxing moments during the holidays.
However, if you're hit with a cold or other illness, it means you either have to skip activities or feel miserable while everyone around you celebrates. Don't miss out by falling ill from careless traveling behavior.
Follow these seven holiday travel tips to stay healthy.
1. Hand hygiene
Experts say it over and over: Wash your hands. People often worry so much about the toilet seat that they forget most surfaces are covered in germs, especially on planes. Wash your hands to prevent the spread of germs and protect yourself from illness. This includes washing children's hands, as well.
2. Get a flu shot before traveling
Though you may feel squeamish about needles, your best chance of avoiding the flu is to get a flu shot. Anyone can get the flu, especially during the holiday season. If you think getting vaccinated is a waste of time, compare that with the five days (at least) you’ll end up spending in bed trying to feel better when you get the flu. Don’t miss out on festivities because you didn’t make time for a quick appointment with your doctor.
Keep up your health, comfort and immune system by drinking water. Drinking water and taking a multivitamin can do wonders for your immune system and digestion, along with your overall feel-good factor. Staying hydrated will also help you avoid holiday overeating, a healthy goal for this time of year.
4. Hoard healthy snacks
One of the main health drawbacks during the holidays is the need to partake of every deliciously sinful holiday treat. If you pack healthy snacks and drinks, you can avoid holiday eating fallout. With enough healthy things to eat, you’ll be fueled up for a road trip and not tempted to overdo it on fast food. If you’re flying, pack a few healthy snacks to avoid overeating holiday treats at a relative’s house when you land.
5. Catch some Zs
When traveling, it’s vital to get enough sleep. Lack of sleep makes you vulnerable to illness, increased stress levels and mistakes. You don’t want to forget your boarding pass or cellphone, keys and wallet just because you were too excited (or busy packing) to sleep the night before your journey. Avoid illness and discomfort by getting ample amounts of sleep before, during and after your journey.
6. Avoid travel injuries
Pack light to avoid injuries from a heavy bag. It’s worth the extra money to check bags that are too heavy to lift into the overhead compartment. If you carry your luggage carefully and leave plenty of time for boarding and layovers, you can avoid many common travel injuries caused by rushing to catch a flight. One way to make your suitcase lighter is to ship heavy or bulky gifts ahead of time. Better yet, consider giving gift cards to a favorite store or cash.
7. Manage stress
No matter how you travel, you’ll run into unpredictable situations like bad weather, delays, traffic and so on. Make a habit of taking deep breaths to keep stress at bay. Even with canceled flights, lost luggage or terrible traffic, you can stay composed and even have a funny story for later. Bringing earplugs for flights and hotels or bedrooms at relatives' homes will help you take a mental breather from potential annoyances. You can also do meditation, breathing exercises and airport yoga to keep travel demons at bay. Lowering your stress level is good for your heart and immune system, so find what works for you, and then do it.