With the holidays upon us, many of us are hitting the road (or the sky) in order to meet up with far-away family members or just get a little bit of a winter vacation in. And while traveling is certainly exciting (especially at this time of year), it can also put a strain on your immune system, which is why it’s important to remember that your health should be a top priority.
With unfamiliar environments, the potential for exposure to new germs, and cold and flu season in full swing, you shouldn’t forget to take precautions to protect your health while on the go. To help you stay healthy while traveling, we’ve compiled some expert tips from Dr. Amit Arwindekar, medical director for UnitedHealthcare Global. Find all of his fantastic insight below!
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1. Anticipate potential health issues
As much as we hope that everything will always go smoothly when we travel, it’s important to anticipate the worst–or at least a bit of a hiccup–and take steps to prevent any possible health issues. “Consider a wellness checkup with a primary care doctor before departure to talk about travel plans,” Dr. Arwindekar says. “Packing a portable health kit may also prove helpful, so consider including items such as anti-inflammatory pain relievers, first-aid supplies, earplugs, sunscreen and sunburn relief, motion-sickness remedies and insect repellents.” Noted!
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2. Refill medications
Dr. Arwindekar also reminded us of the importance of refilling prescriptions and packing extra doses. You can’t keep your health in the best shape if you don’t have the medication your body needs to thrive! “Before any trip, it’s a good idea to refill medications and pack extra doses in case of travel delays,” he says. “When traveling by airplane, always pack medication in carry-on luggage to help ensure access. For international travel, be sure to check prescription drug restrictions for each country to help avoid the risk of medications being confiscated.”
3. Reducing jet lag
Jet lag isn’t only frustrating to deal with–it can also take a toll on your health, which is why taking measures to reduce it as much as possible is vital. “To help avoid jet lag, get lots of rest before a trip, and drink plenty of water before, during and after flights. Then, make a point to get plenty of sunlight during the day, which can help reset the body’s internal clock,” Dr. Awindekar says. “Proper sleep can help strengthen the immune system, better regulate appetite and aid in recovery from injury.” Plus, health benefits aside, you’ll be able to enjoy your trip much better when you’re feeling well-rested.
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4. Stay active
The importance of exercise doesn’t go away just because you’re on vacation! “Exercise is a great choice for helping to reduce stress and improve mood,” Dr. Awindekar reminds us. “Incorporating physical activity into sightseeing is one strategy for staying active. Using a fitness app may also help, providing access to thousands of workouts, from high-intensity interval training to yoga, and meditation.” No matter how you choose to do it, finding time to get up and move every day can do wonders for your health–even when you’re away from home.
The bottom line
By following these tips from Dr. Arwindekar, you can help protect your health and enjoy your travels to the fullest. Of course, don’t forget to also take standard precautions like washing your hands frequently, avoiding contact with sick individuals, and following local health guidelines to minimize your risk of illness. With a little planning and care, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip. Happy holidays!