I travel a lot for both work and pleasure and I know that getting sick can ruin your trip. Whether you’re staying close to home, or planning to travel abroad, make sure you are prepared. Healthy travel requires planning, preparation and common sense.
1. Build immunity before you go away. When it comes to immunity, the best defense is a good offense. Supplementing with friendly bacteria, also known as probiotics, is the easiest way to keep your immune system strong. Friendly bacteria protect against pathogens, support immunity, maintain intestinal barrier function (let good things in and keep bad things out), manufacture vitamins, support nutrient digestion, reduce inflammation, and enhance detoxification.
With a list like this you can see why it’s one of the most significant supplements you can take. When choosing a probiotic, look for a high culture count, multi-strain probiotic formula with a protective delivery system. Enteric coating will protect friendly bacteria through the harsh stomach acid and into the small intestine.
If diarrhea is a concern then the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii is a must. Studies have shown Saccharomyces boulardii to be effective in the treatment and prevention of gastrointestinal disorders such as travelers’ diarrhea, acute diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (I.B.S.), H-Pylori and recurrent Clostridium difficile infection. You can get Saccharomyces boulardii at your local health food store and it can be taken 3-4 days before you start to travel to build up your defenses and as needed while you are on your trip for diarrhea.
2. Practice safe sun. If you are traveling to a sunny destination, don’t forget the sunscreen. The sun’s rays will be stronger in warmer destinations south of the border. There can be a lot of harmful chemicals in sunscreen products though so check out Environmental Working Group’s “Guide to Sunscreens” to help choose the best one for you and your family.
3. Don’t use your trip as an excuse to ditch healthy habits. Find some time to stick to your exercise routine; whether that’s booking a hotel with a gym or taking a walk on the beach. It all counts. You’ll be surprised how fast you get behind on your exercise routine while on vacation.
4. Stick to your supplement regimen. You can cut down on the supplement bottles you take with you by getting some stacking containers at your local dollar store. Fill each stacker with your daily supplements and you cut down on space in your suitcase and you are more likely to remember to take them.
5. Eat healthy! Choose foods that will nourish you: fruits and veggies, lean protein, beans and legumes. Avoid the fast, fried and processed foods (and not just while vacationing). Support your body with nourishing foods to give it what it needs to function optimally. Pack nuts, seeds, fruit, veggies and trail mix as healthy snacking options.
If you do overindulge, make sure you have a digestive enzyme on hand to help prevent gas and bloating. Your local health food store can help. Make sure you choose an enzyme that has protease to break down proteins, amylase to break down starches and carbohydrates, invertase to break down sugars, lipase to break down fats and lactase to break down lactose. If you suffer from heartburn or indigestion, you may want to choose one with added HCl (hydrochloride).
6. Drink plenty of water. Being on planes is very dehydrating, so make sure you are asking for water when the flight attendants are offering. While on day trips, hiking or walks on the beach, bring water with you. It’s especially easy to get dehydrated in a tropical climate so be aware and use bottled water as much as possible to avoid the possibility of contamination.
7. Get immunized ahead of time if required. Read up on the health risks in the country you are travelling to at least 3 months before you depart. Some countries may not let you enter unless you have proof of vaccination or a doctor’s note. Talk to your naturopath or homeopath if you want to do natural remedies in place of vaccines.
Read more about natural immune boosters
8. Protect yourself from parasites. If you are going to a country where you are concerned about food safety and hygiene, it is especially important to ensure that you have strong hydrochloric acid in your stomach when you eat. This will kill off any parasites you may accidentally ingest with your food. You can get digestive enzymes with Betaine Hydrochloride at your local health food store. Take one with every meal. Remember to cook your food well and to cover food while picnicking or barbequing. Insects such as flies and wasps carry food poisoning on their legs and bodies, which contaminate food when they walk on it.
Avoid swallowing or drinking the water while swimming in lakes, rivers, ponds, or public swimming pools. Wear a waterproof bandage if you have cuts or open sores or avoid swimming altogether. To avoid parasites in the dirt and sand, wear shoes and avoid walking barefoot.
If you find you may have picked up an unwanted guest upon your return, there are parasite cleanses you can get at your local health food store.
9. Be prepared. Carry an anti-viral tincture on hand in case you do start to catch the cold or flu while you are away. The sooner you take it at the onset of symptoms, the better. Your local health food store will have plenty of selections to choose from. Look for ingredients like oregano, echinacea, astragalus, olive leaf, licorice, shiitake mushrooms, cat’s claw, garlic, ginger, St. John’s wort, and lemon balm. These herbs contain antiviral, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
10. Don’t stress! If your flights are late, you forgot to pack something or things don’t go according to plan, don’t stress about it. Stress lowers your immune system which can leave you susceptible to illness. Give stress a vacation and you’ll be surprised that it may not be there when you get home.
Your best laid plans can go awry when dealing with exotic diets, foreign water and a whole host of other things so build up your immune system, stick to your healthy routines, be prepared and above all, relax and have a great trip!