The Best Tips For Staying Healthy When You're Traveling

Maybe you have one of those internal thermostats. If your home's indoor temperature is even 1 degree cooler than usual, you get a chill. And if it's 1 degree warmer than normal, you register that, too. Whether your body is sensitive to temperature changes or you're prone to picking up bugs, it's normal to be a little worried about staying healthy while you travel. After all, you'll probably be frequently moving from indoors to out, pushing through changes in humidity, and maybe climbing on and off airplanes, where you may be sitting near an infectiously ill person for a long period of time, per Inside Science.


Couple these influences with some natural travel hiccups, such as erratic sleep and unusual food, and it becomes clear that it's wise to take proactive steps to stay healthy while you travel. Because as fun as travel can be, there's no denying it can tax your body and play upon a weakened immune system, Complete Care says.

Health experts are remarkably consistent in offering advice, which should bolster your confidence — and ensure you look back on happy and healthy travels.

Conquer jet lag

Jet lag may seem like the absolute worst way to begin a vacation. But actually, it could be worse: Trying to beat jet lag by "knocking yourself out" with alcohol will make it worse, as will pumping yourself up with caffeine, Advanced Infectious Disease Medical says.


Before jet lag triggers a domino effect — from fatigue to sickness — do your best to adjust as best you can to the current time zone. Your goal is to make the adjustment as soon as possible while drinking plenty of water. It will keep you hydrated, along with aiding in digestion and detoxing bacteria from your bladder, Harvard Medical School explains.

Pack a first-aid kit

The guy standing in line with a portable first-aid kit may attract chuckles, much like that kid in grade school who made people laugh with his bulging pencil case. But remember how many people ended up relying on that resourceful kid?


Complete Care recommends following this practical lead by either buying a ready-made first aid kit or assembling your own with over-the-counter pain relievers, anti-nausea meds, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and anti-bacteria wipes. Bring your usual meds, too, and keep your kit with you rather than tucking it in a carry-on. 

Keep your hands clean

Whether you're at home or traveling, hand washing is the best way to protect yourself from germs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises. The necessity for keeping your hands clean is magnified when you're on the road, since the potential for touching germy substances increases, too. Be especially careful not to touch your nose, eyes, and mouth with dirty hands.


Soap and running water can be hard to find, so keep a travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer with you at all times, the U.S. Travel Insurance Association recommends.

Stay hydrated

Heat stroke is probably more common than you think — and it strikes with lightning speed. It can take only 15 minutes for the body's internal temperature to soar to 106 degrees Fahrenheit in the hot, stifling sun, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And then all types of maladies can occur, including loss of consciousness.


Keep your body cool by making a water bottle your constant travel companion. Since you can lose track of your water intake in a snap while you travel, New York-Presbyterian's website Health Matters recommends starting the day by downing two glasses of water so you can get a jump on this good habit.

Walk or bike, but move

It can be a challenge to tip the scales just right when it comes to food. You don't want to fall asleep completely exhausted from exertion but you don't want to be stuffed to the gills from overeating, either. Maintaining a steady amount of exercise by walking during your travels will keep your blood flowing and ensure you stay balanced and healthy, Travel Bugs World explains.


Plus, there's nothing quite like visiting a new town or tourist attraction on foot (or, if you prefer, by bike). It takes longer, which fitness enthusiasts often say is precisely the point.

Get plenty of rest

If you've ever heard someone who has just returned from vacation announce that they now need a vacation, you can be almost certain they overdid it while they were gone. You may never know whether they ate too much, drank too much, or danced too much, but chances are they didn't sleep enough. And this is exactly when people are most likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus — when they already feel tired and run down, Mayo Clinic says. 


No one says you have to go "lights out" by 10 p.m. every night while you're away, but getting seven or eight hours of sleep will help your immune system recharge and stay resilient.

Eat nutritious food

If you equate traveling to adventure, then you may make some thrilling food choices while you're away. It's part of the fun of having an adventurer's spirit. But there are limits while you travel, especially if you assume your digestive system will be okay with you eating anything you want and as much as you want, all hours of the day. 


Be sure to send postcards to your nearest and dearest if this occurs. You should have plenty of time to address them as you roll on the bed, clutching your stomach in pain.

To avoid that, stick to a nutritious diet while you travel. You'll give your body one less reason to revolt on the way home.