The holidays are a time of joy, celebration, and cherished moments spent with loved ones. But for many of us, they also signal the start of a season filled with travel, indulgence, and potential health challenges. Whether you are road-tripping or traveling by plane or train to visit family or friends, maintaining your well-being can sometimes feel like a daunting task.
We are more likely to get sick during travel for a number of reasons. When we travel we tend to be more stressed, especially at airports. We also tend to eat more fast food and drink less water. Add in all the people we are coming into contact with and you have a higher chance of encountering a pathogen, particularly at a time when our bodies are compromised. However, with a bit of preparation, some practical tips, and a dash of mindful planning, you can embark on your holiday journeys feeling your best, inside and out. In this blog, Crystal Sciarini, ND, shares a few natural ways you can stay healthy while traveling.
Be mindful of your nutrition and hydration
There’s a lot we can’t control when it comes to traveling, but we can control our nutrition and hydration. I understand part of being on a trip is enjoying all the foods and drinks, but we should at least make sure to get in some vegetables and fruit daily.
Food choices like broccoli, bananas, and almonds restore electrolytes, which can improve immune function. A proper electrolyte balance can also help with jet lag and anxiety. Not to mention you will be less likely to get traveler’s diarrhea because you are keeping your immune system strong.
Overall, most people tend to drink less when traveling, especially flying, because they don’t want to use the airplane bathroom or have to pull over every 30 minutes. Electrolytes can temporarily help you stay “hydrated” with less fluids. As soon as you are done traveling though you should return to the proper fluid intake.
Manage stress levels
Traveling takes us out of our usual routine, which can often lead to increased stress levels. Since stress can weaken the immune system, it’s important to try and manage it as best you can. Here are a few steps you can take to manage stress:
- Be prepared. I start a list ahead of time and then start to pack about a week before leaving. That way I’m not frantically packing the night before. I aim to be ready to leave 24 hours before hand. The night of I relax and go to bed early, or at the very least, at my typical time.
- Leave early. I would rather be bored and sitting at the gate waiting than stressing about making it on time. This will allow you to check in and pass through security at your pace rather than rushing. Bring a book or your laptop or iPad to ensure you have something enjoyable or relaxing to pass the time. I’m currently writing a book, so for my flight in a few days I’m actually looking forward to the downtime and anticipate being able to finish the book while traveling.
- Be pleasant and honest. Unforeseen travel incidents can sometimes shorten tempers. But remember, you catch more flies with honey. Staying in control of your tone and attitude is more likely to bring better results and help you manage your stress levels. State your problem clearly and include a statement that shares how you honestly feel. “Ma’am I am fuming right now, but I know it is not your fault. I’m doing my best to control my frustration and share just the facts with you. Please help me.”
- Anxiety. If you know you are an anxious flyer, or whatever the cause of the anxiety may be, be prepared with coping strategies, a constitutional remedy, or use a nervine (such as lavender oil capsules) or other calming botanicals like kava or chamomile. If you are seeing a counselor discuss your travel anxiety with them and be prepared with multiple options to control your anxiety.
- Breathe. Traveling is supposed to be a journey to a destination. Enjoy the travel part as much as the destination! People watching at the airport can be fun. My best friend and I will make a game of it by either making up stories for some of the unique characters or we will make up a conversation between two people and just be silly. Enjoy the moment and just have fun. At the very least enjoy the gate wait as a few minutes to just stop and breathe.
Create an all-natural health care travel kit
When you travel, bring with you a few items that can help improve your travel experience and ensure you stay healthy.
Lavender capsules or another gentle nervine
Nervines, or a plant remedy that helps the nervous system in some way, can have a calming effect on the mind and spirit. Research has shown that lavender in particular can help reduce anxiety and stress. It is also believed to promote a restful night’s sleep.
Depending on your preferences, other nervines work too such as California poppy, catnip, chamomile, hops, kava, lemon balm, passionflower and valerian.
There are homeopathy remedies available for several of the ailments you might encounter while traveling. However, because homeopathy treatments can vary by individual, this may mean that each family member needs a different remedy for their jet lag. To find what works best for you, it’s best to consult a naturopathic physican in your area. All remedies can be either 30C or 200C. Choose based on preference or experience.
- Aconite (1M) for any emotional trauma.
- Arnica (1M) for physical trauma.
- Arsenicum album – Travelers Diarrhea or food poisoning
- Arnica montana – jet lag with fatigue and muscle aches.
- Cocculus indicus – jet lag with exhaustion, dizziness, and sleep disturbance. (Also indicated for motion sickness with a need to lie down)
- Nux vomica- jet lag with GI symptoms and irritability.
- Gelsemium sempervirens – jet lag with anxiety and mental dullness. (Also indicated for motion sickness that is worse with slight movement and irritability.)
- Argentum nitricum – jet lag with anxiety and restlessness (such as restless leg). (Also indicated for motion sickness accompanied by anxiety or excitability and a perception of loss of balance or equilibrium.)
- Coffea cruda – jet lag from overstimulation or insomnia.
Remember to have fun! Stop trying to get everything done. Choose one special activity for each person and then enjoy it to the fullest! Take a real camera and leave your cell phone in your pocket for emergencies only.
Enjoy the people you are with and remind them that you love them. The trip should be full of joy and laughter. Even my worst vacation ever is remembered with fond memories. In between all the chaos, we still laughed and had fun. Be silly and carefree for at least one day, you will never regret enjoying the moment.