This post has lots of tips on how to stay healthy during holiday travel. I also shared the top 5 things I did during my 4 consecutive weeks of travel (personal + work trips) to stay healthy (and sane!).
Disclosure: I’m partner with MinuteClinic as part of their Healthy Holiday campaign. As part of my involvement, this is a sponsored post from MinuteClinic, but all opinions expressed are purely my own.
Tommy and I were talking last night about how ready we are to get back on our routines. The holidays are lovely, but man, they take a number on us since we are both creatures of habit. On top of all the holiday parties, I’ve had a LOT of travel in the past month, which isn’t that unusual for me at year-end with my job. But while it’s not unusual, it still wipes me out.
There is the stress of different time zones and different hotel beds. Then there is all the food and all the drinks at all the parties. And then that often leads to skipping all the workouts. Add the holiday season on top of that and the stress of all the to-do lists and the stress of family get-togethers (be honest, we all face that at times!) and it all starts to take a toll. With too much travel and too much stress, I often start to feel terribly icky, physically and mentally.
When I start to feel completely frazzled, I take a step back to evaluate the craziness and try to find ways that I can take back my health, especially when I have a lot of travel in the midst of the craziness. After 4 back-to-back weeks of travel this holiday season (1 personal trip, 3 work trips) where I managed (relatively 😉 ) well and stayed healthy (so far!), I noted a few things that made a huge difference for me.
My Top 5 Tips To Stay Healthy While Traveling
1. I took alone time every day. I tried not to overplan/overcommit every free hour, and I took downtime when I could since there were many bursts of activity and non-negotiable events. If I’m going nonstop from dawn to bedtime, I do NOT function and I start to get, well, not very nice. I’m an introvert in the sense that I recharge by being alone.
3. I prioritized sleep. I don’t function without 7+ hours of sleep. Yeah, yeah, I know “Wait ’til you have kids.” But the fact is, I don’t have kids and I’m not accustomed to getting less than that right now and I’m a super finicky sleep as it is. So, I acknowledge and respect my current needs and prioritize my health by doing whatever I can to get enough sleep. And that allows me to function better and be my best self during my trips. And being my best self is important since I don’t get to see my loved ones in Utah enough!
4. I ate well and indulged well. Year round, I try to eat healthy 85% of the time and indulge 15% of the time, all the time. When I travel and during the holidays, that ratio may slip to 80/20 or 70/30, but I try not to just have a “eh, ’tis the season!” attitude and dig into anything and everything because I feel like CRAP when I eat like crap.
I choose my indulgences carefully. Homemade toffee that my friend makes once a year? Totally worth it. Gluten-free snickerdoodle at one of my favorite coffee shops in Utah? Worth it. Candy I can buy year-round that happens to be in the shape of a Christmas tree? Not worth it. (Looking at you Reese’s…and Justin’s cups are better anyway.)
5. I set an alcohol limit set BEFORE I went anywhere. And when I’m traveling, usually that limit is zero. Since I feel like I’m chronically dehydrated when I travel, I try not to make it any worse with alcohol. This is an especially good tip when you’re traveling to holiday parties. Set a limit in advance and stick to it! Maybe your limit is zero at one party and 3 drinks at a different party. Or maybe your limit is zero, always. Maybe you always alternate one alcoholic beverage with a glass of water. Whatever it is, identify your plan BEFORE you go and tell at least one person what your plan is for some accountability. I have two go-to plans:
- (a) no drinking at all — I almost never drink around coworkers for various reasons
- (b) a 2 drink limit at holiday parties, and more often than not, I only have 1
And don’t give in to peer pressure to drink because soon enough, the people peer pressuring you will be too drunk to realize that the soda water in your glass is only soda water and not vodka water. Besides, we’re all adults here – we’re allowed to say no. And the beauty of it all is that they’ll be hungover the next morning and you won’t. Cheers to that!
Here are some additional tips to help you stay healthy for upcoming trips! Prevention and preparation is the best medicine, right? I’m basically a doctor. (Jokes, jokes – I’m NOT a doctor. Please refer to your medical professional if you really need medical help or advice. Or Google. Google never lies, right?)
How to stay healthy during holiday travel
If motion sickness is a concern, try these tips:
- Stick to very light meals before traveling and avoid greasy and fatty foods.
- Try sitting in areas that move the least – the front of a train, wings of a plane, or center of a ship if you’re cruisin’.
- In the car, sit in the front. I get wicked car sickness and try to sit in the front or at least in the middle seat in the back so I can see the road; it helps a lot. Kiddos may need to sit in the back seat, but make sure they can see the road or between seats.
- If you’re really worried about motion sickness, visit your local MinuteClinic for help with
motion sickness prevention. Their practitioners can give you a customized treatment plan, recommend over the counter products, and even write prescriptions if medically appropriate to help you prepare before you hit the road.
- International Trips: If you’re flying off to exotic warmer weather, make sure you’re up to date on your vaccinations. It’s important to have a pre-travel assessment before you go to places like the Caribbean, South America, Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. If you don’t know where to get one, visit your primary care provider or you can even get pre-travel counseling at a MinuteClinic. They’ll help you identify and provide the vaccinations you need based on CDC guidelines, and they can also provide important health recommendations specific to the country you are visiting. (I had no idea they did this prior to partnering with them on this post. So cool!)
Tips to Combat Flu + Cold on the Road
Unfortunately, you’re more likely to get sick when you travel. Germs spread more easily when you’re around others in confined spaces like cars, airplanes, and airports. And, you’re more susceptible because you typically get less rest and exercise and eat outside your normal diet. (Another reason sleep and exercise are part of my top 5 tips!!)
There are a few basic hygiene tips that can help you stay healthy (maybe y’all can print these and hand them out on the plane or to all your family members… juuuuust kidding 😉 )
- Cough or sneeze in a tissue or your sleeve/elbow to avoid spreading it to others. PLEASE don’t sneeze into your hand. That’s just gross!
- Wash your hands frequently, especially if you are helping with meal preparation.
- If you haven’t received your annual flu shot, get one as soon as possible. (Ahem, I’m adding this to my to-do list.)
Seeing a doctor during the holidays
- Seeing a doctor can be tough during the holiday season because, like many of us, primary care providers may be on vacation or operating on holiday hours. But try to avoid using the emergency room unless you have a truly critical issue (speaking from experience here!). Those visits cost more — even with insurance — and they can be very crowded during the holidays and ER doctors are swamped/overworked. (I have a few friends who are ER docs!)
- For something non-critical, like cold or flu symptoms, many urgent clinics or a CVS MinuteClinic can provide adequate treatment until you can see your PCP.
What is a MinuteClinic?
- MinuteClinic is the walk-in medical clinic inside select CVS Pharmacy and Target stores across the U.S. There are about 1,100 clinics in 33 states and in D.C. MinuteClinic is open 7 days a week, including weekday evening hours! And you can just walk in – no appointment is necessary. They always have at least one location (and usually more) in every city they serve open on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Most insurance plans are accepted too.
- I’ve actually used CVS MinuteClinics a number of times instead of visiting my PCP for colds, allergies, flu shots, scratchy throats and sinus issues. It was faster and a lot more convenient with my work schedule.
- You can check wait times at any location at MinuteClinic.com and even hold a place in line in advance of your visit. BOOM.
- You can find a MinuteClinic near you here.
Alright, people, I’m off to bed since I have had a sore throat come on today. (Noooo!) So I’m taking my own advice and getting some sleep. If you have any awesome tips to stay healthy when traveling, please share!