It’s that time of year when people are concerned about getting sick or contracting some ‘new’ bug out there. Since I’ve been on the road traveling extensively for years, this has been on my radar, too, particularly as it relates to toxic exposures. Here are some of my personal tips, but note that these are not recommendations to you, as your health situation is different than mine. Of course, there can be some general application of what I mention below, but the specifics for you may be different. Always best to consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner to find out what is appropriate for you. (Dr Deanna Minich)
1. Hand washing: This tried-and-true strategy is essential. If you don’t have access to a washroom, bring a package of wipes (not sanitizer with triclosan, however) with you so that you can clean your hands, your airplane tray, and cell phone. I like to wash my hands the moment my plane has landed and I have deplaned so that I’m not carrying the plane ‘germs’ with me to the hotel. Speaking of germs, don’t forget that your suitcase, purses, and shoes are hide-outs for all kinds of bugs, so wipe them off or leave them at the door, even in your hotel room.
2. Hydration: Before flying, I like to get in at least a liter of water within 2 hours of flying so that I’m properly hydrated and less subject to dehydration. I bring with me a large glass container (no plastic) to fill up with purified water at the airport when I arrive. In addition to drinking water, I include in it vitamin-mineral packets (ones without sugar, and that use stevia) or sometimes I’ll bring matcha packets. I do the same when I’m off the flight, aiming for about a liter of purified water within 2 hours of landing. Purified water dispensers can also be found in the workout facility or gyms in hotels in case you need to fill up. In fact, I just returned from staying at a hotel in San Diego that had a purified water dispenser by the front desk – I thanked them for it!
3. Foods: It’s so important to ensure that you have the best nutrition when you are on the go. There’s no other way but to prepare for it! I shop at the grocery store ahead of time, usually the day before, so I have what I need and don’t need to buy any food at the airport (which is more expensive and usually limited in healthy options). Great travel foods include avocadoes (I love my “avocado taco” in which I split it in half with a clean thumbnail, and squish up the contents and eat!), nuts and seeds (I don’t eat roasted as I don’t want the damaged oils from the roasting process), and whole-food bars (I have a variety to choose from here). In addition to bringing these foods and even packets of tea (like green tea, mushroom teas like cordyceps, spearmint tea sachets, etc.), I bring with me my washable fork/spoon combination so I can eat whole foods if I go grocery shopping. One of the first things I do when I land and arrive at the hotel or place I’m staying at is go to the grocery store (usually a Whole Foods because they are readily accessible most places I’m in, although I’ve also been to Sprouts, Natural Grocers, and other healthy food stores) to get what I need to sustain myself for the duration of travel (make sure you have a small refrigerator in your room! It’s worth it to even pay extra if you have to because eating out is toxic and expensive!). I usually will get a high-antioxidant smoothie at a healthy food market or restaurant (I seek out the healthy places on Yelp) to replenish my depleted travel reserves.
4. Dietary supplements: This one always changes, but, in general, I personalize to my needs. I bring a small bag with all my supplements in it and even have separate, individually-wrapped single-serve supplement packets already prepared that I purchase ahead of time. If I have them all in one bag, I make sure I remember what they are and how they look. I’ll usually put a desiccant in there with the supplements to ensure they stay fresh and protected from moisture, which could cause them to swell or degrade. Yes to B vitamin complex, lysine, vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium, fish oil, as part of the medley, and often, I have others. I also bring with me a silver spray and essential oils to help with my immune defenses.
5. Sleep: I do what I can to sleep soundly the night before the flight. Sleep is big for me, and if I don’t sleep well, I’m definitely not at my best. For this reason, I avoid red-eye and early-morning or very late-flights whenever possible (and, mostly, it is!). I prefer morning or late afternoon flights when the sun is not at its peak to have less radiation exposure. Some people like to take melatonin as a dietary supplement to help them with normalizing sleep exposure, however, that never worked well for me. If I’m in a different time zone, I simply stay in synchrony with that time zone with respect to eating and sleeping. If I feel myself getting tired, usually hydration and movement help me.
6. Dress in layers: Keeping a comfortable temperature is important, and the way I’ve managed this aspect is by wearing several layers of clothing (unless it’s summer!). So, that means two pair socks, an undershirt or tank under my blouse, shirt, or sweater, and a scarf. That way, I get to pack less and bring more!
7. Massage/move: I’m concerned about deep vein thrombosis and blood clots when flying which is why hydration is essential, and so is movement. I avoid crossing my legs and try to do gentle stretches with my feet and legs throughout the flight. I am a person who makes time for massage/bodywork on a monthly basis, and if I’m traveling, I treat myself a day or two before the flight, and then, when possible, when I’m at my location. If I can’t get a massage, I head to the gym and get some walking in, or simply walk outside. I’m actually amazed at how many steps I can get in when I have a travel day! If I’m early for a flight, I refrain from sitting at the gate because I know I’ll be sitting a lot on the flight anyway, so I walk throughout the airport. In doing so, I sure get a lot of steps! You can track your steps on your smart phone (I do it on my Apple phone) or a smart watch or pedometer.
8. Use UV for your phone and glasses: We know that UV can be dangerous. But it also has its upside in that it can eradicate microorganisms. I have a UV sterilizer at home that I can put my cell phone in (yes, the whole thing goes in) as well as my glasses. It’s handy for getting at commonly used items that have cracks and crevices that are difficult to clean with some kind of spray.
9. Wear glasses: Even though people may be thinking they are protecting themselves with handwashing and mask-wearing, we are still vulnerable to viruses through mucous membranes like mouth and eyes. Since it’s a dry atmosphere in the plane, I typically don’t like to wear my contact lenses (especially, too, because I might fall asleep and then my eyes get even more dry!). Instead, I wear my eyeglasses, which is somewhat of a protectant and shield against microorganisms. Some people like to wear blue-blocking glasses on their flight if they are traveling through different times zones. Those are typically non-prescription glasses. I have a pair of those, too, and use them for nighttime if I’m on the computer.