There is not one person who plans a vacation and wishes part of that vacation to be an illness.
However, due to stress factors, this is often what happens, resulting in a ruined, or at least drastically changed trip. Here are some tips for a healthy vacation.
The stress begins, for many, while at home and planning the vacation. This is especially true of women who, according to CNN magazine, are the main vacation planners. There often is concern about cost, choices regarding the destination, accommodations, and activities. As the trip draws closer the anxiety over these factors grows stronger.
The healthy vacation planner must consider if they have the correct clothing which can lead to anxiety about fit. If the vacation planner is the mother to small children, she must also consider the clothing of her family (and, let’s face it, that often includes her husband’s clothing). This can also dredge up some extra anxiety about vacation-related expenses.
Other potential stress factors include:
- Concerns about work
- Appropriate travel documentation
- That all plans have been confirmed, including the safety of the home and possible pet care.
All of these stress factors can result in a vacation started in an exhausted and anxiety-riddled state that leaves your body at high risk for illness. Add to this that airplanes, and other enclosed travel modes, allow for easy germ sharing, and destinations often offer germs that we are not used to, and it becomes clear that to fully enjoy our much needed, healthy vacation, we must take precaution to help ward off illness.
Thankfully there are many ways to do just that:
Do not lose rest before the vacation begins. You want to start your trip well rested and ready to have fun, not exhausted and ready to sleep. An exhausted body is also more prone to sickness and has a reduced ability to recover.
Proper hydration is one of the first things that many people forget when rushing from task to task. If flying, the decreased humidity in an aircraft will further compromise your immune system. The fix for this is clean, fresh water. Please do remember that caffeinated and carbonated beverages increase your need for water, as does travel, exercise, and heat. On an average day, you should be drinking about half your body weight in ounces (i.e. a 150-pound person should drink a MINIMUM of 75 ounces per day).
3. Protect your skin
Sunburn is one of the most common illnesses that affect vacationers. This can be avoided with proper protection which includes hats, umbrellas and limited sun exposure. Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapplied throughout the day.
Do NOT try a new sunscreen while on vacation. Choose a sunscreen that you already like, or if you are trying a new one, use it at home at least one month prior to vacation. This is an especially important tip for those with allergies. If a reaction occurs, one month should allow for enough recovery time.
Look for sunscreens that are free of toxic chemicals. My favorite sunscreen is organic, coconut oil which makes me smell like the Caribbean before I even leave home. I actually use this for my daily moisturizer, as well. Bringing along some pure aloe is another great addition to your travel bag and will help to heal abused skin.
4. Healthy Eating
As soon as we plan a vacation, we often look at ourselves more critically, and many ladies decide that they must lose weight NOW! I challenge you not to fall into the extreme diet mentality and instead increase your fruits and vegetables while decreasing your unhealthy fats, processed foods, alcohol (especially with mixers) and sugar-laden snacks. Keep in mind, sugar makes you even more susceptible to illness which means that removing it from your diet will not only help your body look better, but it will also help your immune system keep you feeling better.
While on vacation, concentrate on trying local fruits and healthy delicacies rather than desserts. Of course, make sure that the items are from a trusted source and if you are diabetic, or have any other health concerns, do adjust these recommendations according to your necessity. Also, consider seeing a nutrition specialist for personalized advice.
A good probiotic is a great way to increase your gut flora and crowd out harmful bacteria. Also look at your intake of vitamins, herbs, and other supplements all of which can help to increase your health and vacation enjoyment. A nutrition specialist or herbalist can also help with this.
A healthy vacation is a happy vacation, so don’t forget to care for yourself as well as your family this summer.
Originally published August 23, 2013 Inspiring Women Magazine