Everyone wants to stay healthy and energetic while traveling, especially when the travel is part of a move. But the combination of stress and lack of nutritious meals on the road can make you and your family more susceptible to illness. These tips can help you find ways to stay healthy, even during the most hectic part of your move.
Plan ahead for healthy travel
You may be busy with all the move preparations, but a little extra time now can go a long way to keeping everyone healthy and happy.
- Schedule medical check-ups before the move. Make sure all your immunizations are up to date, and consider getting a flu vaccine for everyone in the family if you are traveling during flu season. You may want to use this opportunity to get prescriptions filled before you travel.
- Pack a supply of hand sanitizer and wipes to help keep you healthy when traveling. Keep them handy whether you've traveling by car or by plane.
- Research food options on your route. If you're traveling by air, check out airport websites for restaurant menus. Look for healthy food options at chain restaurants or fast food restaurants you may find along your route.
- Pack a travel first-aid kit. Besides prescription medicines, include anti-diarrheal medicine, pain relievers, decongestants, antihistamines, antibiotic ointment, bandages and hydrocortisone cream. Don't forget to hand carry your prescriptions in their original containers in the event you are separated from your luggage.
- Bring your own pillow or blanket. If you're traveling by air, this can help you avoid germs often found on the pillows and blankets provided by the airlines.
- Take time out to de-stress. Whether that means going out for a walk, lunch with friends or a trip to the gym, take the time to do whatever it takes to keep you feeling healthy and energetic.
Avoiding germs while you're traveling
Even if you're not a germophobe, traveling through airports and train stations - especially with kids - can make you feel like one. These tips can help you avoid germs:
- Avoid touching airport escalator handrails, which can be some of the dirtiest places in the airport. Other germy places include security checkpoints, bathroom doorknobs, ATM keyboards and water fountains.
- On the airplane, use a sanitizing wipe to clean the tray table and armrests. You'll also want to use hand sanitizer after the restroom.
- Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. When you pick up germs, they can easily make you sick if they are transferred to these areas.
- Wash your hands often, particularly before eating. To really clean your hands, you need to wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and running water. If you're not able wash your hands, use hand sanitizer.
- Bring your hand sanitizer to restaurants. Menus can harbor cold and flu germs for up to 18 hours, and they are rarely cleaned by restaurant staff. Other areas in restaurants you'll want to pay attention to are restroom doorknobs and soap dispensers.
- Take precautions to avoid traveler's diarrhea if you're traveling abroad. Stay away from raw foods and unpasteurized dairy products. Generally, boiled foods and fruits you peel yourself are good choices. It's usually best to drink only from commercially sealed bottles.
Eating well on the road
Traveling often forces you to eat out in restaurants, where healthy choices may be limited. But eating nutritious meals on the road can help you stay healthy and feel better.
- At the hotel breakfast bar look for fruit, yogurt, oatmeal and whole grain cereals. Stay away from sugary cereals, sweet pastries, muffins and other processed foods.
- At a restaurant, try to stick to whole grain breads, lean meats and vegetables. Sandwich restaurants typically offer healthier options than burger joints. In a fast food restaurant, try replacing fries with a piece of fruit or a salad. A baked potato is good choice if you can avoid the unhealthy toppings.
- Keep hydrated. It's important to stay hydrated when traveling, especially when flying. Stay away from caffeinated beverages and alcohol, which can have a dehydrating effect. Keep water bottles handy for everyone in the family.
- Whether you're traveling by car or plane, stock up on healthy snacks. These include fresh and dried fruit, string cheese, yogurt and nuts. At many airports, you'll find fresh fruit and water bottles available past the security checkpoint.
- Visit a grocery store for healthy meals in your hotel room. Many supermarkets offer healthy alternatives, such as salad bars and nutritious, pre-packaged meals.
With a little planning and a few precautions, you and your family can arrive at your new duty station healthy and ready to move in to a new home. For more information on nutrition, fitness and other ways you can stay healthy, visit the Military OneSource Operation Live Well page.