You've planned your dream trip for over a year.
You've saved your hard-earned money.
You've spent money on flights and reservations.
Now the day is finally here.
Excitement surrounds you as you finish zipping up your bag.
Your trip turns to one of despair instead of delight.
And it’s down to one simple thing—your health.
The #1 thing you need for an awesome trip is health.
Here’s some ways your health can sidetrack you and ways to eliminate or mitigate them.
1. Picking the Wrong Trip.
What am I really capable of? This is the first question you should ask yourself when determining what type of trip works best for you.
A friend told me of a trip she’d taken to Spain. The trip included a bunch of women traveling together. Every day they would set out to see the beautiful sites of the cities they were visiting.
Unfortunately, one woman ended up spending over 90% of her trip in the hotel. She simply wasn’t physically able to spend days out walking.
Many sights will not only include a fair amount of walking but can include many stairs. Historic buildings may not have elevators.
When you think about your trip, you may often think I’m going to see “this” or I’m going to do “that.” When you consider where you want to go, you will also need to consider what you will do when you get there and how much physical activity each day includes.
2. No Physical Stamina.
The fact is that unless you are being carried or pushed in a chair, you will spend A LOT of time standing and walking.
On a trip to Italy with my daughter and some friends, we estimated that we spent each day walking 10,000 to 15,000 steps and climbing an average of 8-10 floors. For active people, that's not difficult. For people who walk less than that on a daily basis, walking that length can take a toil on you.
You don't need to break the bank by getting an expensive fitness tracker either. You can get a basic pedometer and tracker that will help you see how you're doing and help keep you motivated. If you're planning on a trip, start walking now!
You may struggle on trips if you are overweight. You can also have no physical stamina if you are thin or underweight. Feet, leg, and hip pain, can surprise you.
If there is one thing I would encourage anyone who wants to travel to do, it’s to walk on a daily basis. You want to be able to build up your stamina. If you’re not used to walking, start slow and continue to build up so you’re walking an average of 3-5 miles (or more) a day.
3. Not Strengthening your Immune System.
I should have known better.
In fact, I do know better.
Yet, I didn’t take the time to strengthen my immune system in the weeks before my trip.
As we said goodbye at the airport, my husband (who’d been sick with bronchitis) kissed me goodbye. Now, that normally probably wouldn't have caused any issue.
Traveling in airplane with recirculated air and then venturing into a new environment can quickly sideline you.
I made it through Paris and jet lag with no issues. But the next day everything changed.
The first day in Rome. Sick. Terrible chest congestion and fever. I hadn't been sick in years, if not more than a decade. So I had taken my immunity and my health for granted. I'd hadn't strengthened my immune system. So I bid goodbye to my travel companions and headed back to our cozy apartment. While they enjoyed the sights, I sought the comfort of a bed and sleep...
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Oscillococcinum is great as it's a homeopathic medicine. In other words, no added liquid for any baggage. Travel is bound to put you in contact with some germs so take 'Osco' at the first sign so you don't delay your trip.
Thieves oil is a life-saver in my book. A few years back, I was traveling over the holidays to visit relatives. I got an abscess on my gum by my tooth. If you've had that happen, you know how painful it is.
My dentist was closed until after New Years so I began applying the area with the oil. Over the week, the gum returned to the right color and the pain stopped. When I went to the dentist, he couldn't find any infection.
A while back, I noticed my gums bleeding so I got the Thieves mouthwash. No more bleeding gums. There are many products but I normally just take the small bottle of oil with me when traveling. You can also get Thieves hand purifier. What's nice is that you get three bottles so you can have one in your purse and one in your carryon and one to share.
...Back to my Rome story.
I felt horrible. I rubbed a vapor salve and Thieves essential oil on my chest and feet and spent the day sleeping. By the next day I was ready to hit the sites again with only a lingering cough. Thankfully, I was the only one who succumbed to my illness.
Now I'm certainly not a doctor and my results may be different from yours. I'm just telling you what has--and does--work for me.
Learn from my lesson.
Build up your immune system.
As someone who prefers natural methods as much as possible, I normally spent at least a week to a few weeks gearing my immune system up for a trip.
Here are some simple, natural ways to strengthen your immune system. (As always consult your physician.)
4. Idealizing your Itinerary.
You’ve seen all the beautiful pictures of the city you’re going to visit. You've envisioned how wonderful it's going to be.
It's quite a bit different when it’s cold and raining and you’re standing in a long line to get into the cathedral.
You chose some really cute fabric shoes for the trip that are now soaked. Your feet are cold. You've stood in a line, wet and miserable, for over an hour.
Conversely, you may find yourself in a place that affords no shade. You're hot and sweaty and need to get hydrated soon.
Remember that you are traveling to a real place.
In that real place, there will be changing seasons and different weather. Some times it will be ideal.
There is no bad weather, only bad clothing and bad shoe choices.
Your clothing and shoes can impact your health in many ways.
A windbreaker or rain jacket is a must for some areas while a hat or sunscreen may be travel essentials in other areas.
These may not be thought of as health items but they can impact your health tremendously if you lack them.
Consider real scenarios so you don’t catch a cold or find yourself with a sunburned face.
5. Food-borne or Water-borne Illness
That was our name for it.
That’s what happens very often with food or water-borne illness. It comes on quickly. And often before you even have time to prepare or react.
When food poisoning occurs, it strikes hard and fast. It may be include diarrhea, vomiting or both.
It’s a horrible way to spend your vacation.
Find out about the country you will visit. Most developed countries will have adequate clean water sources. But food poisoning can hit you in many places. Water-borne illnesses can as well. If you're going to a place that the water purification may be "iffy" then consider taking some purification tablets or a purification straw with you.
If you shouldn’t drink the water, don’t forget that even swishing your mouth with water after brushing your teeth will be enough to send you crawling to your bed. Trust me on this one!
While our bodies want—and should—get rid of the offending problem, you can mitigate the issue by being careful around raw foods, drinking bottled water, etc.
Unfortunately, sometimes after the first wave of poisoning runs through your system, the effects of it may continue or linger. This is why I highly recommend bringing a good fiber in your medicinal kit.
Fiber will create bulk so you have less watery stools. If you become constipated from too much rich food, it will help keep you regular. Fiber will also help to settle your stomach.
On a trip to Egypt and Jordan, fiber kept me healthy while many others were sticking close to bed and bathroom.
In the event that you do get sick, eat some yogurt or probiotic rich food to help repopulate your intestinal tract with good bacteria. In most cases you can find an electrolyte source at a local store. However, if you're away from a source that sales it, you can make your own.
Electrolyte Drink Recipe: At its most basic you need water, sugar and salt. (10 parts sugar to 1 part salt). You can also add citrus (fresh lemon, lime or orange juice) or other juice. You can use plain water or coconut water. You’ll want 1 part juice to 3 parts water. You can use sugar, honey (preferably raw), or maple syrup for your sweetener.
When you have a bout of diarrhea or vomiting, ensure you replenish your electrolytes. It’s also important to replenish your electrolytes if you get dehydrated. Here’s some possible signs you need to replenish your electrolytes: dizziness, nausea, tiredness, muscle cramps or twitching muscles.
6. Motion Sickness
Going on a cruise? Taking a long train trip? Will be sitting on a bus or in the back seat of a car cause you angst? Prepare in advance to minimize any motion sickness. One way is through the use of a motion relief wristband that applies pressure to an acupressure point.
7. Feet and Leg Issues.
Walking can cause a lot of issues beyond sore feet. You’ll want to have shoes that fit comfortably and don’t pinch. Blisters or sore toes from hitting the toe box will make walking difficult. Tight hamstrings and thighs from walking and climbing can be alleviated through periodic stretches.
Additionally, if you are walking during particularly hot periods or you are prone to water retention, you may experience edema (swelling of the legs and feet). Drinking nettle tea can help ease symptoms. Plus, having a cup of herbal tea is a nice way to end your day.
I like to carry tea bags with me on my trips. You can include chamomile for calming, peppermint or ginger for stomach issues, or a favorite blend.
Soak your feet (or have a long tub soak) with epsom salts at night. Most apothecaries or stores should carry epsom or mineral salts if you don't want to bring some with you.
After a long day, soaking in epsom salts has many therapeutic benefits, including relaxation, soothing back or leg pain, easing muscle strain, as well as drawing toxins from the body.
8. Menstruation or Menopause
The joys of physical cramping or night sweats don’t take a vacation.
Address your women’s health issues at home so that you can enjoy your trip.
Do certain foods trigger hot flashes?
Can you mitigate cramping?
What supplements or medication can you bring that will keep you active and healthy while traveling?
The excitement or stress of a trip can aggravate symptoms or start your period early. Be prepared on how you'll handle it when you're away from home.
9. Physical Illness or Disability
Do you already struggle with a physical illness? How will you handle it on the trip? Will you need to have medication or access to a pharmacy?
Will you be traveling with others who understand what to do in case of an emergency? Or that will take a slower pace for the trip? Make sure that everyone understands how much you aim to participate and when you will stay behind on other excursions.
Travel is an experience that anyone can enjoy. It may take a bit more preparation but it can be achieved. Understand your limitations. Ensure someone knows what to do is something occurs. Take precautions and then go enjoy your trip.
10. Heat Stroke or Hyperthermia
It seems like you're invincible. Certainly you know when you are becoming overheated or too cold. But minor nuisances can quickly turn deadly.
Know the symptoms of heat stroke. When traveling you are often active and the combination of high temperatures, lack of water sources, etc., can quickly make you seriously ill.
While maybe not as common, you could also experience hypothermia. Rain or snow with low temperatures and inadequate clothing can cause mild hypothermia.
If you can't get cool or warm, get out of the elements, sit down, get hydrated and access your symptoms.
To get cool: Apply cool cloths, get into a cooler environment and drink a cool drink.
To get warm: Remove any damp or wet clothing that you can, get into a warm environment and partake in a warm drink. Don't drink alcohol which can make you think you're warmer but may cause heat loss due to expanded blood vessels.
11. Delaying Treatments or Lack of Preparation
Make sure your teeth and gums are healthy and cavity-free. A toothache is a bad enough experience without it happening in a foreign country.
If you take medications, have you ensured you have enough for the trip and a prescription in case something happens?
Did you bring along another part of glasses or have a prescription?
Do you have severe allergies to certain foods? Have you planned how you will handle it if you have should have an issue?
What about asthma or the need for an inhaler?
Are you adequately insured in case of a medical emergency while traveling?
In most cases you will never need to use insurance or require a prescription be filled, but it will give you peace of mind knowing you have covered the possibility of any events.
Health is wealth.
Take these steps to health:
· Prepare for your trip by getting healthy.
· Ensure your trip runs smoothly be being proactive.
· In case of illness, know ways to quickly get back on course.
· Be kind to yourself if you do become ill.