THE LAST THING you want in life is to be puking your face off, running a fever, and/or bedridden watching some old movie in a language you don’t know during a trip that you’ve been looking forward to for months!
Its the worst.
And yet, getting sick while traveling, especially during the holidays, is not uncommon. In fact, I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there.
Just earlier this year, (in Costa Rica in the middle of summer!) I definitely caught some kind of bug. I had a fever, migraine, and vertigo/nausea for about three days. And even though it only lasted a few days, it was a bit of a bummer because our trip was only 5 days total and we didn’t get to visit all the awesome places and wildlife we wanted to.
But, its funny because before I even got sick, I knew it was coming. You can always feel it coming, can’t you. I can usually predict when I’m about to get sick cause all it takes is a few key ingredients.
Lack of sleep.
Not eating right. and last but not least,
I know a lot of you are probably getting ready for your holiday travels right now, and with all of the movement and stress that comes along this time of year, it can be really easy to get sick! Even if you are staying in your hometown, the cold/flu is always lurking around the corner at this time of year.
So I thought it would be a good moment to share with you some of the most effective, natural and easy to follow tips on how to stay healthy while traveling, and how to avoid getting sick this winter by keeping your immune system strong!
SO, WITHOUT FURTHER ADO.. LET’S DO THIS!
You need water. To LIVE. WATER IS LIFE! (too much?)
Yes, we all know this, we all try and drink enough water. But have you ever noticed how much less plain ol’ water you drink during the holidays?
I know I’m guilty. I blame the way too many yummy drinks to drink this time of year!
The first defense you can take against getting sick is to stay hydrated. But you need to make sure that you are drinking clean, purified water. No matter where you are.
If you are going out of the country, it’s likely you’ll encounter periods where you really need to keep a supply of pure water on you. Think about how many water bottles you end up buying when you are out and about! I recommend getting a reusable water bottle with a filter like this one and fill it up constantly!
Be careful about drinking tap water. Your body might be fine drinking the tap water from where you are from (although here in America I wouldn’t anyway cause of the fluoride and other toxic contents) but your body really might not tolerate the bacteria that’s in another water system and you will probably get sick. Trust. It’s really common to get sick from the tap water in foreign places. So, having a water bottle with a filter is so useful and will save you tons of money in the long run.
Staying hydrated is absolutely the first step to staying healthy when you are traveling. Try to hit at least 1.5 liters a day of water. (And also, try not to drink too much wine even though its delicious and it’s the holidays and you have all the perfect excuses to drink it.)
2. EAT WELL. EAT PLANTS!
Eating mostly plants is hands down one of the best things you can do to stay healthy year round let alone when traveling. I think there’s enough support on this one to where I don’t really need to get into it. Right?
But as for my personal experience: After two years of vegetarianism, I have never been healthier. And I recently decided to move towards veganism and a Plant-based diet. Since then, I have felt so great and even as people around me have been getting sick with colds here and there, I’ve managed to not get a real cold or flu in over a year! And I don’t even take flu shots. So idk, you can say I’m pretty convinced now that this is the way to go for a healthy.
Plants have amazing properties to help your immune system stay strong throughout the year so that when winter comes, stress comes, and travel comes, you can push right through to spring, unscathed by the icky sickies that most people go through at some point or another in the cold season.
So here is a list of top immune supporting foods and drinks that you should incorporate into your diet during this season and while traveling:
Fermented foods (Kefir, natto, kimchee, miso, tempeh, pickles, sauerkraut, and olives) – Beneficial for healthy gut flora and a barrier to bacteria
- Coconuts/ Coconut oil – contain lauric acid which really boosts immunity.
- Wild blueberries- in particular, are potent immune boosters.
- Green Tea and Matcha – super rich in polyphenols and powerful anti-oxidants.
- Herbs and Spices – GARLIC, ginger, onion, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, oregano (all have been shown to boost the immune system)
- Chlorophyll – promotes the formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells
- Echinacea – potent for fighting colds and our overall immune system.
- Elderberry – ancient medicine used to cure the flu and heal colds quickly
- Raw organic grass-fed milk (if you aren’t vegan) – an outstanding source of vitamins, especially vitamin A, zinc, and enzymes.
- Organic, locally grown vegetables – support all proper cell functioning
- Mushrooms– support healthy gut flora and detoxification process
Citrus and other fruits high in vitamin C – oranges, kiwis, papaya, grapefruit, tangerines, lemons, limes, etc.
3. DONT FORGET YOUR PROBIOTICS
A healthy body has to start from a healthy gut. There is absolutely no doubt about this one, up to 80% of your immune activity takes place in your gut. There are 10 times the number of bacteria in your body than the cells of your entire body. And in order to stay healthy, you need to make sure that bacteria is flourishing. When you intake probiotic foods or supplements, you are basically sending your body the reinforcements it needs to stay strong and fight any foreign invaders.
And who doesn’t want to do that?!
I’ll probably make an entire post about this soon, but for now, if anyone is interested, here’s the quick and fast version of my probiotic story:
Probiotics have made such a difference in my overall health and quality of life. I’m not kidding. I used to have crazy digestive, intestinal and feminine health issues, and they got so much worse when I started traveling. Like, I’m talking IBS, candida, migraines, and UTI kinda stuff. But since incorporating probiotic foods into my diet like the ones I mentioned up above, and a more than anything, a daily probiotic supplement, I can’t believe how many of my these debilitating and frustrating ailments have gone away.
If you plan to travel I highly recommend taking a probiotic every day (start early) so that your gut is in good shape to handle all the random food you are probably gonna eat.
4. TAKE A MULTIVITAMIN
When you are traveling, you are doing a LOT of physical activity. You’re running around, you aren’t sleeping normally, getting up early, sleeping late, you’re doing all this crazy stuff you never did before. It is physically draining. And during the holidays its pretty much the same story.
Taking a high-quality multivitamin is a good idea because it just keeps all your bases covered. Try finding one that contains Vitamin D and C! And if not a multivitamin, at least these two would be a really good idea.
Vitamin D is nearly impossible to get from the sun during the winter, and even in the summer you’re gonna want to stay protected from the UV’s with sunscreen. So a Vitamin D supplement is a good idea pretty much all year round (although check with your doctor to see if you are deficient as up to 40% of the population is).
For Vitamin C, you can easily get and bring those powdered packets (I think they’re called Emergen-C) and put them in your water bottle every so often. I like to keep a few in my purse or carry-on.
5. KEEP EXERCISING
A little exercise, even just 20 minutes a day, 3 times a week, can go a looong way.
Usually, this isn’t an issue for me while traveling, since the places I have been to have all required a lot of walking around. But, I know in the winter months we tend to want to get cozy inside, have our hygge time and enjoy the luxuries of indoor travel experiences. I mean, it’s pretty easy to refuse to go for a walk when its like 3 degrees outside (-5 including wind chill).
If you do yoga, this is one of the coolest things about it in my opinion, because you can do it anywhere. And in the winter months, while traveling, it’s great to have that convenience.
Whatever you do to stay in shape and stay active, try and keep that up rather than get lazy about it during the holidays.
Keep in mind that exercise reduces your stress cortisol levels as well so it could be that extra boost for when you’re in a chaotic mind-state from all the planning and multi-tasking and need to take a break mentally. A walk into town or on the beach is just what your immune system ordered.
6. If your body tells you to stop. JUST STOP.
Your body needs sleep. And it’s not just so you have energy the next day. While you sleep, every cell in your body is repairing itself from the wear of the previous day. If you are running around this holiday season, stressed, trying to get a million things done, you need to make sure you sleep enough too. And if you have trouble getting enough sleep in general, feel free to check out my last post for some of my favorite all-around tips for getting better quality sleep.
To be honest, this was probably our most fatal flaw when we went to Costa Rica this year. Well, in part it wasn’t our fault, but the airline we flew with that decided to blast us with cold misty air as we were boarding, and then bumped the heater up so high during the flight that we started sweating profusely and couldn’t get even a minute of sleep. We had been up for nearly two days trying to finish up projects for our jobs on our laptops in Mexico, (with absolutely terrible Wi-fi) and at the same time decided to cancel our flight home and book a last minute flight to Costa Rica. Without any previous thoughts about going to Costa Rica, we suddenly had to start looking for places to stay and plan out what we would do there the night before taking off!
Needless to say it got hectic pretty quick, and we were tired and stressed out as heck. lol
The day we arrived, we were finally on the way to our hotel from the flight, exhausted from not sleeping, the 100 degree cabin and this crazy toddler that was crying next to us the whole time, and that’s when it hit us. Were probably gonna get sick. We both had pounding headaches, felt dizzy and disoriented. Then, my boyfriend got so nauseous that we had to ask the driver to pull over. Yep. And that was just the beginning.
Moral of the story: Know your bodies limits. And listen to them.
I know it’s the holidays, it’s a trip to a new place, and you want to see everything and do everything you possibly can, into that little window of time you have. But don’t spread yourself too thin, or you will probably get sick and it will ruin all your fun.
I hope these tips help to set you up to build your bodies natural defense up to keep you protected from all those colds and flu’s lurking around this time of year and while you travel.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could always avoid getting sick?! LIKE, ALWAYS. How awesome would that be?
I’d love to know if you have any tips to prevent you from getting sick during travel and in winter and if you do please share it with me in the comments!
With much gratitude,