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8 Travel Tips for a Healthier, More Comfortable Trip - Everyday Health

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Published on May 26, 2023
8 Travel Tips for a Healthier, More Comfortable Trip - Everyday Health
Travel can open our eyes to unique and memorable experiences. As of January 2023, 52 percent of Americans surveyed for a U.S. Travel Association survey say they’re planning to travel for leisure in the next six months. And both travel and time off work (and our day-to-day routines) tend to be good for well-being. One study from earlier this year found that people who were able to travel frequently reported better mental, physical, and emotional health than those who stayed closer to home. But let’s be real. From flight and train delays to travel-related tummy troubles to jumping time zones, seeing the world isn’t all glamor and awe-inspiring all the time. “It’s hard on our physical bodies,” says Akil Palanisamy, MD, an integrative medicine doctor in San Francisco and the author of  The T.I.G.E.R. Protocol: An Integrative, 5-Step Program to Treat and Heal Your Autoimmunity . “Prolonged immobility can lead to aches and pains,” he says. Think of how much time you spend sitting on long-haul flights and waiting for other transportation. Sitting for long stretches can increase risk of blood clots, which is a serious medical problem, research shows. ”The change of time zones can disrupt our circadian rhythm and impair sleep; and dehydration is a risk, especially if you travel by air,” Dr. Palanisamy adds. Unexpected hiccups during the journey (such as lost bags or traffic) can amplify stress levels. And our digestion doesn’t always dig adventure. Diarrhea, constipation, and indigestion are all more likely to occur when you’re abroad compared with at home, other research finds. Rather than let all of this keep you home or ruin your trip, follow these expert-backed tips for smarter, healthier travel. 1. Move When You Have the Chance To Traveling by car, plane, or bus leaves few options for steps or movement. So, make the most of your time and space between stops, says Haley Perlus, PhD, a sport and performance psychologist based in Denver. “I bypass any moving walkways, escalators, or elevators in favor of walking. Taking every opportunity to move and be active while traveling is so helpful when I’m trying to adjust to time changes, not go stir-crazy waiting at the gate, and keep an overall healthy lifestyle,” she explains. Once she reaches her destination, Dr. Perlus keeps her sneakers handy. It’s okay to take a break from your usual workouts while on vacation (and can be a good thing to mix up your routine if you do typically follow a rigorous exercise schedule). But do make time for some movement, she says. “I try to find ways to integrate physical activity every day of a trip.” No that doesn’t mean you need to spend hours of vacation time in a hotel gym (unless that sparks joy for you; do you!). Perlus prefers to wake up 10 minutes earlier to do a quick bodyweight workout in her hotel room or finding a local trail to hike. 2. Slip on a Pair of Compression Socks During those hours on the road, Palanisamy swears by knee-high compression socks. Research suggests these tall, fairly tight socks (which are available online from many retailers for around $20 per pair) can reduce leg swelling and also decrease the risk of blood clots, which can happen if you do not move for a long period of time, he says. 3. Skip Salty and Fizzy Snacks and Drinks to Help With Bloating Carbonated beverages and salty, shelf-stable snacks are convenient and tend to be more readily available when you’re traveling than, say, fresh fruit or carrot sticks. But Perlus recommends paying attention to your noshing. “Salty snacks and carbonated beverages can cause uncomfortable bloating, which is no way to begin a vacation,” Perlus says. Instead, pack a reusable bottle to refill throughout vacation to make it easier to drink water. And when it comes to snack, look for ones with protein. “Protein helps keep me full, stabilizes blood sugar, and reduces food cravings,” Perlus says. She prefers options like Greek yogurt, grass-fed beef jerky, nuts, and pumpkin seeds. 4. Pack a Few (High Fiber) Snacks And just in case you can’t find those go-to grab-and-go options, pack some snacks to have on hand, says Lauren Manaker RD, LD, owner of Nutrition Now Counseling in Charleston, South Carolina. Airport and gas station snack options can be limited, particularly if you’re traveling late at night or early in the morning. Manaker says she totes along plenty of prunes. Research suggests that high-fiber...


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