Traveling can take a hefty toll on your health and wellbeing. If you’ve set aside time off from work for a vacation, the last thing you need is to feel exhausted or get sick. Protect your health with these five tips, so you can return to work feeling relaxed and refreshed.
1. Wash Your Hands
You’ve heard it before, but it’s the single most effective way to fight the spread of germs and minimize your chances of getting sick. Stock your carry-on bag with hand sanitizer so it’s easy to wash up on the go. Tuck a travel pack of antibacterial-wipes in there, too. They’ll come in handy for wiping down germy surfaces like airplane tray tables.
2. Drink Up
Undesirable flight times coupled with dry airplane cabin air can be a recipe for dehydration, which can leave you feeling fatigued, foggy-headed and irritable. Travel with a large, reusable water bottle that you can fill after going through security — and sip it throughout your flight instead of dehydrating drinks like coffee, caffeinated soda or alcohol.
3. Don’t Skimp on Sleep
The sleep deprivation that comes with jet lag can leave you tired, cranky and more susceptible to getting sick. To acclimate to new time zones quickly, try to stick with the local schedule instead of sleeping during the day. Take an afternoon nap if you’re really drained, but don’t snooze for more than two hours. It’ll only make it harder to fall sleep later.
Spend time outside when possible, too. Exposure to sunlight will help you feel more awake during the day and sleepier at night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
4. Try to Eat Right
Staying at hotels often means eating at restaurants, which might mean heavier meals and more alcohol than what you’re used to at home. Allow yourself to let loose a little bit and enjoy some of your favorite foods and drinks, but find ways to make most of your meals healthy. For instance, pick high-protein options (like eggs or Greek yogurt) instead of pastries at breakfast, or make it a rule that you always eat salad with lean protein for lunch. And stick to just one or two drinks per day.
5. Minimize Stress
Believe it or not, the stress that often comes with traveling can actually suppress your immune system and make you more prone to getting sick. Since you can’t prevent long security lines or flight delays, manage the stressors you can control.
A few days before your trip, write a checklist of items you need to pack. Create more space in your suitcase by rolling your clothes instead of folding them. The day before your trip, write out your travel itinerary — including details like flight numbers and hotel names — so you have all of your plans in one place. And confirm how you’ll get from the airport to your destination, so you aren’t forced to scramble at the last minute.
By taking a few simple steps, you can keep up your energy and feel great when you’re away from home. You’ll be at the top of your game for whatever your trip has in store, and arrive back to work healthy and rested.